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Our new initiatives
Sciences Po Refugee Help is always looking towards expansion: as we move on from an association focused on emergency aid to longer term initiatives (courtesy, in part, of evolutions on the ground), we look into novel initiatives more targeted towards advocacy and changing the way individuals think about asylum seekers. In this spirit, the three following initiatives have emerged, and are now at different levels of development:
- The Buddy Program: this program allows Sciences Po students concerned by the heavily-mediatised ‘refugee crisis’ in Paris to personally and actively invest themselves in this cause by meeting and supporting a person going through the asylum process or integration process in Paris. A buddy acts in a twofold manner: first, he or she helps the individual discover France and its capital (visiting museums together, recommending books, listening to music, going to dinners or soirées…). Second, they help the individual with their administrative paperwork, benefitting from a practical guide, out together by Sciences Po Refugee Help, with civil society contacts they can revert to for specific problems. This program allows Sciences Po Refugee Help to remain, first and foremost, an association that operates at the individual level, seeking to change personal narratives on asylum and migration. Above all, it keeps us rooted in a profoundly humane approach, as we remember that changing the way two individuals see each other is the change the lens with which they look out into the world.
- Awareness Raising in Schools: Being a member of Sciences Po Refugee Help is a difficult and challenging experience, especially when working in teams directly exposed to the situation on the ground (Material Needs, Asylum Aid...). As of this year, both current and former members will be speaking about their experiences in local high schools, raising awareness amongst younger generations on migration, asylum, and the challenged they will most likely continue to face as they move into the university and working world. On a personal level, this allows outgoing members of Sciences Po Refugee Help to punctuate their experience by coming full circle, as they conclude their months or years of volunteering by debriefing before those susceptible to take their place, be it within Sciences Po Refugee Help or in another, similar association at another university. Finally, it allows students in high school to access personal narratives on the refugee crisis in Paris, without the added medium of a newspaper, TV documentary or book. It personalises a collective struggle, and starts the process via which individuals approach the issue of migration with specific faces and names in mind, instead of depersonalised numbers and figures.
- Sciences Po Refugee Help Think Tank: As Sciences Po Refugee Help expands and transforms, it is important to take a moment and reflect on our inner workings and evolving identity. This will be the aim of the Think Tank, who will be assigned one question each year to reflect on, and insert that year's experiences into. The Think Tank is but one of the many other platforms through which Sciences Po Refugee Help seeks unity with its members, even as the association grows ever more numerous and horizontal (for instance, our volunteers also have acess to a private blog, imitating the MSF model, in which they can share their frustrations and grievances). The Think Tank will publish its conclusions each year through a report whose format has yet to be determined.
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