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Watson, Dorcas partner for community drive

Film screening, discussion panel will follow month-long campaign to aid refugees in Rhode Island

In the wake of recent policies from President Trump, the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs partnered with Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island to support refugees and immigrants in Rhode Island through a film screen and community drive — running Feb. 1 to March 1.

The Watson Institute is collecting items such as business clothes and toiletries to help resettled refugees through the DIIRI. The organiztion provides services including resettlement aid and case management to more than 450 refugees a year.

While the Watson Institute has made previous efforts to help the local community, this is the start of  consistent community programming, said Kathryn Dunkelman, director of communications and outreach at the Watson Institute.

“A lot of faculty members got together after the holidays and decided it would be a nice opportunity to give back to the larger community,” Dunkelman said. “After such a divisive election, we thought we could come together and do something more positive to support the community.”

DIIRI’s mission is “helping people become more stable so that they can be successful and interact more with their communities,” said Brandon Lozeau, community relations manager of DIIRI.

“Understanding how global and national issues are playing out locally and reaching out to organizations who are doing this kind of work every day is a really important part of understanding these issues,” Lozeau said. He hopes the event will raise awareness “around refugee communities in Rhode Island,” Lozeau said.

At the conclusion of the month-long community drive, there will be a film screening of the documentary “The Resettled” and a panel with a representative from DIIRI, a student representative from the Brown Refugee Youth Tutoring and Enrichment program and Clement Shabani, community leader at DIIRI.

Shabani and his wife work with DIIRI to help refugees resettle in Rhode Island. Shabani will use his experiences as a refugee to raise the awareness among “students about the war on race in many corners of the world,” he said.

The Watson Institute is hosting the screening and panel to “engage people across campus who may not have extra resources to donate but wanted to learn more about the refugee experience,” Dunkelman said.

“We are really looking to support as many refugees as we can and engage as many people across campus as we can. The response so far has been really great,” Dunkelman said.

Donations are being collected at the front desk of the Watson Institute at 111 Thayer Street and 59 Charlesfield from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. A list of recommended donation items is posted online on the Watson Institute’s webite. The film screening of “The Resettled” and panel with Dorcas International and BRYTE will take place Monday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Watson Institute. 

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