CFPL Launches Refugee Youth Mentor Program
Fairfield students will put into action the core Jesuit value of being men and women for others, mentoring young refugee students throughout the Spring 2017 semester. The Refugee Youth Mentor Program launched on February 16 with 37 Fairfield students and 24 refugee students. During the 10-week program, students between the ages of 13-18 years old will engage in a number of activities with Fairfield students including workshops, tutoring, college essay assistance, recreational activities and conversation. The program is sponsored by the Center for Faith and Public Life.
The Refugee Youth Mentor Program is a continuation of the Fairfield University Mentoring Program with International Institute of Connecticut (IIConn) youth, which began in Spring 2016 with student Molly Camp ’16 and was continued in Fall 2016 in Professor Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka’s African Politics service-learning course. Students in the course engaged in a variety of activities with IIConn youth including homework assistance, tie-dying shirts, campus tours, meetings with college advisors and more.
Camille Giacovas ’18, a student in the service learning African Politics class and now the student coordinator of the Bridgeport Refugee Youth Mentoring program, has adapted the initiative to be a University-wide program. She hopes that it will become a nation-wide model for campus-community collaboration. Giacovas states, “My goal is to ensure this program is not just a temporary opportunity, or a glimmer of light at Fairfield University amidst the darkness surrounding the refugee crisis world-wide. Instead, I envision this program as a seed, planted at Fairfield University, that will flourish into a nation-wide initiative by students, educators, administrators, and legislatures alike, in communities shared with refugee populations."
“The mentoring program has been beneficial to both college mentors and youth mentees who teach and learn from one another,” stated Melissa Quan, director of the Center for Faith and Public Life. “Moving ahead, attention will be given to bringing more structure to the mentoring program, focusing on cross-cultural sharing and college preparation.”
The program has also received a generous donation from Whole Foods to provide healthy snacks to the participants.
Pictured: Professor Jocelyn Boryczka’s African Politics service-learning course, Fall 2016