History students to accept donations for refugees


Imagine getting off a plane from a warm, war-burdened country and finding yourself in a cold, dark Erie.

The only clothes you own are shorts and flip-flops, no winter coat to protect yourself from this frozen white water falling from the sky.

Unfortunately, this is how many of Erie’s refugees are welcomed to our city.

To combat this issue, Carolyn Baugh, Ph.D., an assistant professor of history, has begun to engage her History Without Borders students by starting a campus-wide collection of clothing, household items and school supplies.

In each of Baugh’s classes she stresses the roots of conflicts such as war, genocide and persecution that have produced so many refugees to come to Erie.

“I always want to help my students understand that refugees are people like us, with homes and families and prized possessions and a sense of place that is often key to their identities,” Baugh said.

They may look different from us or speak a different language, but at the bottom of it all, we aren’t really all that different.

We all have dreams to become physician assistants or businessmen and women. Refugees have to put those dreams on hold to pick up their entire life, move to an entirely new country and be expected to learn and speak this country’s language quickly, all while owning almost nothing.

Young children are also among the adult refugees and the transition to Erie public schools is not an easy one, so giving them things like a backpack to help them fit in could make a world of difference.

Refugees have no choice but to leave their home, and it is incredibly important for not only Gannon students, but everyone else to welcome them after enduring so much hardship just to get here.

Baugh’s students have decided to act on this issue and begin a collection of items that incoming refugees will need.

Abby Printz, a freshman physician assistant major and a student in one of Baugh’s History Without Borders classes, said she thinks the project is a great opportunity for students to get involved in the community.

“People should donate items because it’s a great project that has the potential to help a lot of people in need,” Printz said.

This includes but is not limited to gently used clean clothing, dishes, household supplies, backpacks and school supplies.

Students and community members will be able to find collection barrels in Waldron Campus Center, Palumbo Academic Center’s Honors Wing and the third floor Women’s Studies Lounge, Finegan Hall, North Hall, Wehrle Hall and the Recreation and Wellness Center.

All donations will benefit the refugee population of Erie through the International Institute of Erie, which is a branch of the federal government’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Dylanna Jackson, the director of the International Institute of Erie, often visits Gannon to educate Baugh’s students about the different types of refugees that Erie encounters and the situations they may have experienced before their resettlement.

Collection Barrels can be found around campus until April 28.

To learn more about the International Institute of Erie and Refugee Resettlement at http://refugees.org/field-office/erie/ or email them at [email protected], and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook.

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