Seen above speaking in the Deuble Room on the Malone University campus in Canton, Ohio, Professor Elizabeth Patterson Roe is informing an audience of students, faculty, and interested guests about her 2017 sabbatical.
Dr. Roe worked with World Relief to learn about refugee resettlement. She was uniquely qualitifed in community development, international development, international social work, and qualitative research skills to study and then develop a model to empower refugees as they settle in the United States.
Refugees are people who have been forced to flee their country because of persecutio, war, or violence. They have well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. They cannot return to the country they left because of war, ethnic, tribal, and/or religious violence.
She described what it would look like for a refugee to be empowered in the U.S. saying they would have English language skills, independence and financial security (jobs), and be able to help others. They would also have relationships within and outside their own refugee community.
For refugees to be empowered, they would have the authority and ability to earn an adequate income, to advance in a career, to speak English, and to have independent transportation. Along with those attributes they would have sufficient housing, educational opportunities, and confidence in negotiating the financial, legal, medical, social, and education systems available to people in the United States. Moreover, they would have confidence and self-sufficiency in conducting these activities.
Among the several barriers to refugee empowerment identified by Dr. Roe were transportaiton, mental health, oppression, lack of language, lack of independence, isolation, and even prejudices within the refugee community. Sometimes refugees face hostile and unwelcoming attitudes from US citizens, making refugees feel they are not regarded as deserving dignity and worth.
Pictured to the right of the young man is Kara Ulmer, director of the Akron office of World Relief, a nonprofit evangelical organization that helps refugees adjust to life in the U.S. Director Ulmer and World Relief were integratively supportive of Dr. Roe's sabbatical activities.
Dr. Roe's description of her sabbatical activities, that also included writing a journal article, developing a fact sheet on refugee resettlement, conducting interviews with refugees and knowledgeable sources, and assisting refugees and case management staff, was followed by enthusiastic applause from the audience members.
Selected BCAA activities are chronicled in this blog.