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The MATESOL English for Refugees Fellowship program is planning a speaker series called, “Refugees in the USA Today: Gaining Some Perspective.”

Marlboro College recently entered a partnership with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), creating an English for Refugees Fellowship, which enables MATESOL students to serve at one of six resettlement centers in the U.S., and to teach English to refugees and immigrants while completing their graduate degree.

Talks will be held in the Snyder Arts Center from 3 – 4 pm on the following Wednesdays: July 12, July 19, July 26, and August 2.

A brief description of each talk is below.

On July 12, Amila Merdzanovic and Ashraf Alamatouri will speak about “Resettling Refugees: The inside story.” Amila came to Vermont in 1995 as a refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina and is the first former refugee leading the USCRI Vermont field office. She has an MA the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and brings over 10 years of experience working in refugee resettlement providing direct services, program management, and advocacy in Vermont. Ashraf Ashraf Alamatouri is the English language learning coordinator at the USCRI Vermont field office. He taught English at Kalamoon University, Syria, conducted teacher-training courses throughout that county, and was the director of the language department at the International Center for Human Construction before joining USCRI.

On July 19, Connie Woodberry, retired senior program officer, World Education, will discuss “Transitions: From camp to community.” As a consultant and caseworker for Southeast Asian refugees in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine, Connie provided translation, cross cultural consultation, and job orientation. She went on to be senior program officer for World Education, where she coordinated programs for Lao, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Burmese refugees living in the Thai refugee camps.

On July 26, Ana Rawson, will speak about “Students dealing with trauma or interrupted schooling. A teacher with 30 years of experience, Ana established the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program for Windham Southeast Supervisory Union (WSESU), where she currently directs the program. She has also taught at School for International Training in the MATESOL program, and has taught Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) classes for St. Michaels University. Ana will be joined by Jennifer Course, who has 15 years experience as an ESOL teacher in WSESU.

On August 2, Lloyd Dakin, retired senior officer for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, will give a talk titled “Refugees: Never ending story?” Lloyd has held several positions in the UNHCR, part of an international career stretching four decades. These included program officer in Thailand, deputy representative in Tanzania, desk officer for Central Asia, representative in Armenia and Hungary, regional representative for Central Europe, and interim director of the Division of External Relations.

A Special Appeal by The Little Sister Fund

We would also like to tell you about The Little Sister Fund, an organization highly recommended by one of our WWAC Board members, Professor Renate Gebauer of Keene State College. The Little Sister fund is an organization that gives girls from impoverished families an education, girls who would otherwise end up in child marriages or even worse in human trafficking and prostitution.  Now two Nepalese young women from the Little Sister Fund have been accepted to Keene State College.

The organization is now reaching out to fully fund the undergraduate education of the two talented girls, Puja Thapa and Benajil Rai, who are arriving in Keene in August. To do so they have set up a crowd funding site, which also includes an explanatory video


We are bringing this to your attention because this project falls under the vision of the Windham World Affairs Council of promoting international understanding, Will you consider offering your support to this effort?


A Screening in Brattleboro

Carry Me Home, a local non profit that ships humanitarian aid to refugees along the Balkan route, is sponsoring a screening of the documentary film called “Sauti”  that tells the story of five young women who have been working hard to pursue their dreams and goals within the Kiyangwali refugee settlement in Uganda. The screening is being sponsored as a benefit for CIYOTA. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Bahati Kanymanza and his wife Angelique, as well as one of the young women from the film who will be visiting from Kenya. The film maker has offered to fly her here for the event, as she herself will be in Colorado for another screening.

Bahati Kanymanza moved to Brattleboro from  Uganda to attend SIT.  Bahati is a co-founder of an amazing non-profit based in Uganda Called COBURWAS International Youth Organization to Transform Africa (CIYOTA). He helped found this organization when he was in high school. CIYOTA has done incredible work building an educational system for youth in the Kiyangwali refugee settlement in Uganda. The first handful of students that made it through this school system are graduating this spring from universities in the U.S. and Kenya.

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