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WSU community helps resettle refugees

Closeup of members of the local NASH-ECAR group.
Members of the local NASH-ECAR group.

The Hameedi family — Parwiz, Fatima and their young son, Adeeb — arrived at their new home in Pullman after short stays in Qatar and Spokane. They left Afghanistan because Parwiz had worked at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, which put him and his family in danger when the government fell to the Taliban. 

Paul Whitney, associate vice president for international programs, worked with the International Rescue Committee office in Spokane to develop a co-sponsorship agreement to support resettlement of the family in Pullman. “Refugees face many challenges before the U.S. can feel like home. With the help of International Programs colleagues, the President, the Provost, and especially dozens of volunteers in the Pullman community, WSU’s ECAR chapter has helped a wonderful family from Afghanistan get a new start here,” Whitney said. 

Parwiz says Pullman has good people and is a good, safe place for families and children. He likes his job at WSU and he and Fatima are continuously improving their English proficiency with the assistance of WSU’s academic English team and help from programs in the community. 

WSU’s Every Campus a Refuge chapter has received financial support from RRI and ECAR to host another family arriving soon. The WSU chapter will also use the funding to provide opportunities for students in Pullman and at WSU’s other campuses to help solve the challenges faced by refugees resettling here.

WSU helps international collaborators 

As a Tier 1 Research university, WSU has a long history of collaborating with people from around the world on research projects. 

But with the instability in many countries where WSU research projects have occurred such as Afghanistan, university collaborators can find themselves targets for extreme prejudice by their new governments.

The situation in Afghanistan helped spur the efforts of the National Association of System Heads to lead a Refugee Resettlement Initiative (RRI) to help universities become part of the solution to the challenges of refugee resettlement. Whitney represented WSU at RRI webinars and there connected with Diya Abdo, the founder of Every Campus a Refuge.

“I was immediately drawn to ECAR’s mission of engaging students and other members of the university community to help refugees successfully integrate to the U.S. and find work and success in their new home,” Whitney said.

For more information or to become involved in WSU’s ECAR chapter, contact Paul Whitney.

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