Executive Director of The Center Joins Colgate University Panel Discussion on Refugee Resettlement

In March, Shelly Callahan spoke to students, faculty, and community members at Colgate University about The Center’s history and current challenges.

Callahan was joined by members of the Upstate Institute, a Colgate-based organization that encourages students and faculty to connect with their local communities in Upstate New York. Ellen Percy Kraly, Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies and executive board member of the Upstate Institute, delivered opening remarks and provided global-scale context regarding immigration. She noted that, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), at least 1% of all people have been displaced from their homes. 

Callahan proceeded to discuss resettlement demographic trends in Utica, NY since The Center opened its doors in 1981. Overall, The Center has resettled over 16,500 refugees, and in 2006 Utica became known as “The City That Loves Refugees.”

“We are a standalone center. Our whole agency wraps around refugee resettlement; that is the heart of our agency,” Calahan remarked.

She also noted that The Center provides several other services to refugees, ranging from pro-bono attorneys for citizenship acquisition to employment assistance. However, the Trump administration’s strict immigration policies and the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic decrease in the number of refugee admissions in Utica and the United States overall. This has resulted in shifts in the operations of The Center.

The Upstate Institute and The Center have collaborated in the past on projects designed to enhance social progress in Upstate New York. Julie Dudrick, the Project Director of the Upstate Institute, suggested ways for Colgate students and faculty to get involved in The Center’s work. Students can participate in paid full-time 10-week summer fellowships in public health research and social media marketing, and faculty can apply for research funding or grants for community-based course development.

Originally published by The Colgate Maroon-News, 3/12/21

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