Class supports refugee groups

Gannon University students in a leadership seminar have worked together in groups to produce informational pamphlets to provide information about the members of the refugee population in Erie to the local community.

The project is intended to be centered on a global issue and bringing awareness to the topic of refugees and also portray leadership – giving students specific roles – in making this project come to life, Chris Vilevac, adjunct professor and associate director of Global Visitors Program, said.

Class members have been focusing on multicultural experiences and eventually discovered the large refugee population in Erie – leading to their main focus for the project.

“Many refugees have come from unpleasant living situations and as a class, we believe it is important for the Erie community to be affable to this relocation in Erie,” Jessica Scouten, a senior legal studies major, said.

“Each student’s role provided so much in completing this project,” Vilevac said. “I think they have developed relationships with others from various cultures.”

According to Scouten, the group’s prompt was to create a project that centered on a global issue by advocating awareness, a sustainable solution and the Gannon mission statement.

For Vilevac, the project was about demonstrating the fact that everyone has a role in society, work, church and community.

“The purpose of this project is to develop management and leadership skills that will allow students to work together towards creating and implementing a goal and also to learn more about others and how to do things for people in our community,” Vilevac said.

Scouten was nominated to be the CEO of this project.

She said that her main responsibilities in this position included overseeing all the activities completed by the sub-committee and making executive decisions about the direction of the project, including design and scope.

Dan Weiss, a senior mechanical engineering major, said he was given the task to manage the identity segment of the project.

“One job of this unit was to make sure we were aligned with Gannon’s mission so we could put the school’s name on the pamphlet,” Weiss said.

Many students in the group project were unaware of the large number of refugees in the area, including myself, Weiss said.

“I think the importance of this issue is to not only help the refugees that are new to Erie, but to also raise awareness of others in the community,” Weiss said.

Weiss said that the leadership aspect of the project is portrayed any time a person is put into a group to get something accomplished – it requires leaders to step up in different capacities and others to take on other roles to support the group as a whole.

“I personally tried my best to bring my skills to the table and to build on my leadership abilities when doing this project,” Weiss said.

Erie has some fabulous community partners, Vilevac said.

“We want to make sure that new people are being connected to these folks so they can resettle in their new home knowing that there are resources available regarding language, classes, immigration and support,” Vilevac said.

 

COLLEEN LANGHAM

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