Villanovans Meet to Address the Refugee Crisis

On the day following the UN General Assembly Summit on Global Refugee Protection, Villanova students, faculty, and community members gathered to discuss pressing issues facing refugees. Co-sponsored by the Law School’s Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES), this “Who Are Refugees Forum” aimed to raise awareness and understanding concerning the plight of refugees. Bringing together various individuals with insightful perspectives on the topic, the event featured Villanova Law Professor Michele Pistone, third year law student and former unaccompanied minor from Honduras, Luis Canales, and three former refugee clients of CARES.

To provide background on the current situation, the forum began with an explanation of the term refugee, a short video of Pope Francis urging people to address the refugee crisis, and a TedX Talk by Alexander Betts on helping refugees help themselves. Once this context was provided, the featured speaker panel shared their personal experiences with this global concern. Of note, Canales discussed how he left his family at the age of 15 without knowing if he would ever see them again. After his stirring testimony, he proudly announced that his parents were sitting in the back of the audience today. Calling for people to act, he urged people to help teach refugees English and vote for politicians who support policies that benefit migrants and refugees. In order to make his own impact on the refugee crisis, Canales is planning on dedicating his career in law to help children who are going through the same trials that he experienced.

Towards the end of the event, CRS Ambassadors encouraged people to sign prepared letters addressed to government representatives, in order to promote refugee causes. Concluding the forum, Pistone encouraged everyone to share what they have learned and to use social media to explicitly state their support for refugees.