Congolese refugee high schoolers get training at U-M

April 25, 2019
Contact: Fernanda Pires


ANN ARBOR—A group of 16 Congolese refugee high school students and young adult community leaders from Grand Rapids will visit the University of Michigan this Saturday for a day of educational and vocational training—learning skills in writing, technology and personalized career development plans.

The workshops will be conducted by [RE]vive, a U-M student group, in partnership with students and faculty at the School of Social Work and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and the refugee-run Michigan Banyamulenge Community.

Founded in 2018, [RE]vive is a student-driven Refugee Education Initiative that utilizes the resources of the university to combat challenges faced by refugee communities, specifically, barriers to higher education. [RE]vive members hope to teach these communities about tools they could use to begin to break these barriers and pursue higher education.

Last year, [RE]vive received a $20,000 fund from optiMize, a U-M student-led that offers workshops, mentorship and funding for students to create self-directed projects that make a positive impact. The club created and taught a workshop for college preparation and professional development skills to Syrian refugee students and teachers in Istanbul.

This semester, they have created a more U.S.-centric curriculum, increasing the number of topics they cover to work with local actors and deciding which lessons are most beneficial to refugee communities. Last month during spring break, the group hosted a workshop with Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Louisville, Kentucky.

“My hope is that [RE]vive will (become) a sustainable student-run organization, outreach to other communities and local partners, and continue the workshops and partnerships we have had,” said co-founder Ayah Kutmah, a junior majoring in political science and international studies with a focus on the Middle East. “This means finding a steady source of funding and volunteers, which is why we turned it into a student organization.”

MEDIA: U-M students and refugees are available for interviews, including Odessa Gonzalez, professor of social work,; Sarah Stachnik, graduate student in urban planning,; and ReVive co-founder Ayah Kutmah,

9-10 a.m.: Breakfast, Taubman College of Urban Planning and Architecture
10-1 p.m.: Morning workshop, Taubman College of Urban Planning and Architecture
1-3 p.m.: Lunch and campus tour (from Taubman to School of Social Work)
3-5:30 p.m.: Afternoon workshop, Educational Conference Center at School of Social Work
5:30-7 p.m.: Panel and dinner, Educational Conference Center at School of Social Work


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