"Haven or Home?"


A pilot program of the Brandeis Seminars in Humanities and the Professions explores issues facing refugees and their host communities

haven or home
On Friday, May 16, 2003 The Center hosted "Haven or Home?: Refugee Resettlement in the Changing New England City," a daylong seminar on issues associated with refugee resettlement. The seminar, held at the Tsongas Conference Center in Lowell, Massachusetts, was cosponsored by International Institutes of Boston and New Hampshire, and Lutheran Community Services of Southern New England. Over 20 participants took part in the seminar and were selected mainly from two New England cities — West Springfield, MA and Manchester, NH — to explore the effects of refugee resettlement on their communities. Participants represented a range of professional domains — including city government, education, health, public safety, the clergy, and refugee resettlement services — as well as both native-born and refugee populations.

"Haven or Home?" was a pilot seminar developed to bring together different stakeholders in the refugee resettlement process in order to identify and discuss misperceptions and problems that arise on both sides as well as possibilities for cooperative action and conflict resolution. Topics for discussion included:

  • understanding the hesitancy and limitations of host communities;
  • managing the administrative and economic challenges that refugee resettlement brings to a community;
  • acknowledging the benefits that refugee resettlement can bring to a mid-sized city;
  • understanding intercultural miscommunication

The Center hopes to continue conducting seminars that address refugee and immigrant issues, incorporating feedback gained during this pilot session. The seminar followed the successful Brandeis Seminars in Humanities and the Professions technique of using literary texts and other humanities materials as a point of departure for reflection and discussion, with participants contributing the experiences of their professional lives as a "second text." Materials included, poetry, film, literature, and a museum exhibit.

For more information on "Haven or Home: Refugee Resettlement in the Changing New England City," or to inquire about the Brandeis Seminars in Humanities and the Professions program, email the Center.