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Humanitarian Action Club

The Humanitarian Action student club raises awareness on campus about humanitarian issues and builds strategies for responding to humanitarian crises. Interested in how you can take action during a humanitarian crisis?

From responding to natural disasters, to refugee support, to education and advocacy global crisis and concerns, students make the connection between their coursework and real, humanitarian needs on the ground.

  • Each year, students organize refugee camp simulations to help raise awareness of the refugee crisis and to promote advocacy efforts.
  • Students travel to New Jersey each semester to help rebuild homes destroyed during Super Storm Sandy.
  • A spring break trip is offered each March for students to work with refugees at the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) resettlement areas in Texas.
  • Fairfield participates in the conflict simulations offered by the Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education (CHSE) each spring providing students with the opportunity to experience what humanitarian work in a conflict zone entails.
  • Each month, students share their experiences in choosing their career paths with middle and high school refugee youth from Cesar Batalla Elementary School and Bassick High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
  • Fairfield participates in the biennial national skill-building JUHAN conference for undergraduate students of Jesuit universities.

Humanitarian Action Fellows

Gina Melone ’20, Priscila Roman ’20, Luckario Alcide ’21 and Magdalena Dutkowska ‘22 are the 2019-20 JUHAN Fellows!

"We, as students, sometimes forget how much power we have. We have so many opportunities to spread the word about issues going on all over the world. We have opportunities to engage with influential people and inspire them to care and to take action. We are powerful and influential; we just need to remember that we can make a difference.”

— Sophia Bolanos '19

Luckario Alcide headshot

Luckario Alcide

Class of '21

Read Luckario's Testimonial
"The Humanitarian Action Club has helped me pursue humanitarian goals as an undergraduate and has led me to strive to be an ethical leader in my everyday life. Whatever I end up choosing, I know I followed my heart and my passion because of the experience I have gained as a fellow."

— Luckario Alcide '21
Major: Communcation

Magdalena Dutkowska headshot

Magdalena Dutkowska

Class of '22

Read Magdalena's Testimonial
"I believe that being a part of the Humanitarian Action Club has allowed me to play a greater role in my community through educating myself and my peers about local and global issues and the change that we can be a part of. I am interested in pursuing a career in International Studies or Politics, and being a part of this organization, as well as the Humanitarian Action minor, has given me a well-rounded foundation of information and skills that I will be able to apply towards my future."

— Magdalena Dutkowska '22
Major: International Studies, Spanish, Politics
Minor: Humanitarian Action

Julia Neal headshot

Julia Neal

Class of '23

Read Julia's Testimonial
"Being a Humanitarian Action Fellow has helped me pursue my academic and career interests because it pushes me to be more aware and have discussions about topics and events that are going on around the world that may be hard to talk about. By working as a fellow and with the Humanitarian Action Club, I am gaining more knowledge on the reality of what our world holds, not just what I see on a daily basis. I am striving to be a nurse, and by seeing different cultures, I hope to be able to use my knowledge and my expertise to help people who are less fortunate. This fellowship enables me to see different opportunities in which I can help and promote awareness, especially in healthcare."

— Julia Neal ‘23
Major: Nursing
Minor: Humanitarian Action

First Year Experience

First year students can choose a humanitarian-themed FYE course with a community-engagement component. The course integrates humanitarian topics as well as a service into the first year curriculum. If you are an incoming first year student and are interested in being part of the Humanitarian Action FYE, please contact Julie Mughal.

Service & Simulations

United Nations Security Council Simulation Course: Each May during the intersession, a five-day, three-credit course simulating the UNSC’s annual debate on the Protection of Civilians is held on campus. As part of the simulation, students receive briefings on child protection from experts in the humanitarian field as well as training from the former Chief of the Secretariat of the UN to the Security Council. Students also visit the UN Headquarters in New York for a tour and briefings.

United Nations Global Citizenship Seminar: Offered each fall, the trip provides students with an insight into the inner workings of the UN as well as many of its sister agencies. In addition to touring the UN Headquarters building, students receive detailed briefings focusing on humanitarian issues, refugees and other forces behind global migration. On past trips, students have met with senior level administrators, representatives from the UN, UNICEF, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration. For more information about the next United Nations trip, contact Julie Mughal.

International Rescue Committee, Abilene, TX: Offered each spring, the trip provides students an opportunity to work with the International Rescue Committee in its work to help newly resettled refugee in Texas.
Working with refugees is an honor in itself. The portrayal of the refugee in America’s media is skewed and inaccurate. It seems that refugees are seen as helpless and vulnerable people. That perception of these people is far-fetched. More often than not, refugees are people who held well-balanced lifestyles with a steady job, income, educational background, families, social network and more. Tragic and unfortunate situations have occurred to them causing them to leave their lives behind them in their countries and to seek refuge in a foreign nation. With the refugee clients, I worked with the stories all had similarities, life dealt them a “bad hand”. It is important though to understand that all refugees hold distinct stories and no story is the same despite their similarities in country fled, refuge country, and more. –Student reflection

Florida Hope: Offered each spring, a limited number of students are able to participate in the Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education’s (CHSE) intensive hands-on simulation of a humanitarian relief operation.
My experience being involved with Florida Hope exceeded my expectations. I was able to put to use a combination of my nursing skills, mental health knowledge and leadership while being pushed out of my comfort zone…It was definitely an experience I will never forget and left with more confidence and skills than I ever thought possible. – Student reflection

Post-disaster Rebuilding: Each semester, a group of our humanitarian action students, working with SBP (a post-disaster recovery agency), help rebuild homes that were destroyed during Super Storm Sandy.

Alumni Notes

Life After Fairfield - Our Amazing Students!

Recent Fairfield alumni whose studies focused on humanitarian action have pursued careers in the humanitarian action field and graduate studies at leading institutions. For example:

Emma Cannon ’14 headshot

Emma Cannon ’14

Peace Corps Volunteer
Get to Know Emma
A JUHAN fellow at Fairfield, Emma double majored in international studies and Spanish with a focus on Latin America. Emma was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala for two years, where she worked in support of the Healthy Schools Project, a national initiative that aims to improve basic health and hygiene in primary school students in rural Guatemala. She received the JUHAN Humanitarian Citizenship Award in 2014. She currently works at University Research Co., LLC (URC) & Center for Human Services (CHS) Support Zika Response activities in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador and Jamaica. She is currently pursuing a degree in nursing.
Patience Mhlanga ’14 headshot

Patience Mhlanga ’14

Peace Corps
Learn More About Patience
Patience currently serves as a Peace Corps Health Volunteer in rural Zambia. She lived in Zambia as a refugee for five years and was excited to be able to return to Zambia to serve in the Peace Corps. While at Fairfield, Patience tutored English and mentored middle school students in Bridgeport through the AmeriCorps Program. She then served full-time as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Minnesota through Minnesota Alliance with Youth organization. While in Minnesota and after discernment, Patience decided to pursue Theology at Duke University. From there, she joined the Peace Corps. In Zambia, she focused primarily on HIV and malaria prevention, nutrition, and sanitation. Patience also worked with women to develop activities to generate income for themselves and their families. Patience is a Paul D. Coverdell Fellow at George Washington University a Master’s in Public Health.
Julianne Whittaker '12 headshot

Julianne Whittaker '12

Fulbright Scholar
Get to Know Julianne

Julianne worked in the Humanitarian field in Jordan after completing an English Teaching Assistantship Fullbright in that country in 2013 and is the founder and co-director of the Amal Foundation which provides university scholarships for Syrian refugees in Jordan. She completed her Master's in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University in 2017. After graduating, she was a Catholic Relief Services (CRS) International Development Fellow in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza and currently works for CRS as Livelihoods Program Manager in Iraq.

‌‌Julianne also received a Fulbright teaching scholarship to Jordan. Watch the video!

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