Global Refugee Crisis the Focus of Kean Human Rights Conference

03.21.18

Three activists who have dedicated their lives to helping refugees both across the world and here in New Jersey will speak to hundreds of high school and college students about the global refugee crisis on Friday, March 23, at the Kean University Human Rights Institute’s 11th Annual Conference.

Koang Doluony, founder of the Omaha Talons Basketball Academy, Donya Nasser, the 2015-16 United States Youth Observer to the United Nations, and Sally Bruno, founder of One World, One Love, will amplify the voices of refugees and immigrants and talk to students about the ways they can contribute to the solution at the conference, titled Seeking Refuge: Immigration and Forced Migration Around the World.

“Driven out by war, violence, persecution, strife, hunger and poverty, refugees are forced to leave behind their communities, their possessions, and often, their families,” said Lauretta Farrell, D.Litt., director of Kean’s Human Rights Institute. “Immigrants are often seeking refuge from war zones, and searching for safety, opportunities and a chance at survival. Our speaker-activists will address the refugee experience, activism, and ways we can each support refugees in our communities and beyond.”

Through the Omaha Talons, Doluony offers a safe and positive environment, mentorship and supports to area youth, including some of the 20,000 South Sudanese immigrants and refugees in that community. Programs focus on education, healthy food access and nutrition, and utilize basketball as a vehicle to improve participants’ life, leadership and academic skills.

Nasser is an Iranian-American, Muslim and youth advocate for gender equality and reproductive justice on both a domestic and international level. The youngest member of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund boards, she has been recognized for her work to uplift and empower women, youth and minorities to become civically engaged and run for office, and for her contributions to Middle East policy and to combating stigmas and stereotypes.

In response to President Trump’s ban on refugees, Bruno organized a group of volunteers to collect donations for Syrian refugees resettling in New Jersey. The statewide network has expanded to more than 400 volunteers who work with other organizations to meet the immediate needs of refugee families, as well as to secure long-term resettlement and sustainability.

“Kean’s annual conference brings human rights issues to people’s attention, issues a call to action to the participants and educates the audience in ways that they can improve the very world in which we live,” said Dawood Farahi, Ph.D., president of Kean University. “By sharing their insights and experiences as change agents, each of this year’s speakers will challenge an expected audience of more than 900 high school and college students, educators and advocates to rethink the way we can address this global crisis."

The annual Human Rights Institute Awards, recognizing the work of educators, students and young adults who are dedicated to ensuring social justice, will also be presented at the event.

Open to the public, the conference will be held on Friday, March 23, at 9 a.m. at Wilkins Theatre on Kean’s Union campus. On-site check-in begins at 8 a.m., and lunch will be provided. Educators are encouraged to bring their students.

Answer the call to action. Register now, for free: kean.edu/humanrightsconference.

For more information, email humanrights@kean.edu or call (908) 737-4670.

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