The Holy Cross Community to Raise Awareness for Refugee Crisis With a Weeklong Series of Events

College of the Holy Cross students, faculty and staff, will host “Refugee Awareness Week” now through Oct. 29. The week will help raise awareness for the complex social justice issues surrounding the ongoing refugee crisis around the world.

“Refugee Awareness Week is an opportunity for Holy Cross to engage in dialogue with the local and global community on the impact of the current refugee crisis,” says Emily Davis, assistant chaplain and assistant director of liturgy. “Our hope is that the week’s events will spark a desire for our students, faculty and staff to actively live the Holy Cross mission, to serve others and seek justice within and beyond the Holy Cross community.”

The week will offer opportunities for students to discuss the refugee crisis with faculty, community members and local refugee advocates. One event is a fishbowl discussion on Wednesday, Oct.28, at 8 p.m in the Rehm Library titled “Refugees in Worcester: How Can Holy Cross Respond?” Susan Rodgers, Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Society at Holy Cross, will moderate the discussion. Panelists include: Meredith Walsh, executive director, Worcester Refugee Assistance Project (WRAP); Kyle Tingley, ESL specialist at WRAP; Ellen Ferrante and Joan Kariko, co-founders of Refugee Artisans of Worcester (RAW); Jacob Medina ’16, Vannicelli Prize recipient and co-founder of the Student Empowerment Program; Vannak Khin '15, Commonwealth Corps Member of the International Institute of Lowell; and Shannon Carroll ’92, CEO of Genesis Center in Providence, R.I. and 2015 Sanctae Crucis recipient.

Medina is an economics major at the College, and co-founder of the Student Empowerment Program (StEP). StEP is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure that every student has access to educational tools and resources. Medina is excited about the opportunity to be part of the fishbowl discussion and the opportunity to raise awareness for refugees on the Holy Cross campus. He recently received the Vannicelli Prize at the College for his work with refugees at Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) in Washington, D.C. Medina says, “My original interest in immigrants and refugees started because my father is a Cuban immigrant. Hearing his stories growing up, I knew that I wanted to become more involved in aiding in the transition process of newly arriving immigrants and refugees. The more I got to know immigrants and refugees, the more I felt inspired. I have been lucky to meet so many hard working, loving individuals who have gone through great hardships in the hope of a better life.” Medina has volunteered at Ascentria Care Alliance in Worcester since he was a first-year student at Holy Cross. Medina hopes the events encourage students to learn more about the refugee population and help if they can. “If college students can provide a bit of their time and energy to the refugee population, I am sure they will find that they gain much more than they give.”

Throughout the week in the Hogan Courtyard, Students for Life will be showcasing a display of individual keys that will be configured in the shape of a house. Each key will symbolize a certain number of refugees from various locations throughout the world including the Middle East, Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. Posters will surround the display and offer a brief story, fact, or quote about refugees from that country or region. Pax Christi will sponsor advocacy tables set up daily in the Hogan Courtyard to offer more information about refugees around the world, a chance to sign online letters and petitions to Congress regarding the crisis and to collect monetary donations for the Jesuit Refugee Service.

“We hope the key display will give students an idea of what damaging acts have been done to refugees and how displaced families are affected,” says Charles Lanza’16, co-chair of Students for Life and a Catholic studies and psychology double major at the College. “It is extremely important that we as Holy Cross students, attending a Catholic school, keep in mind our need to strive for social justice.”

Refugee Awareness Week is sponsored by the chaplains’ office, the sociology and anthropology department and The Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture as well as student groups Pax Christi, Students for Life and MEChA de Holy Cross. For more information, please contact Emily Davis, assistant chaplain and assistant director of liturgy at

List of events:

Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 10 p.m. Hogan Courtyard Students will participate in a candlelight vigil as an act of solidarity with refugees from around the world. Sponsored by Pax Christi.

Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. Rehm Library A fishbowl discussion will be held to discuss the topic “Refugees in Worcester: How Can Holy Cross Respond?” Sponsored by the chaplains’ office and the sociology and anthropology department, and the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture.

Thursday, Oct. 29, at 12 noon Hogan Courtyard Interfaith prayer service to conclude the week. All students, faculty and staff are invited to attend.