Trinity students help simulate training program for human rights, inclusive refugee resettlement
“I’d like to invite you to look at the rest of your day through the lens of a refugee teenager,” said Victoria Tiggas, outreach and development program officer for Hardwired Global, an area nonprofit, speaking in Chapel on Monday, January 24. “Imagine what your simple, everyday experiences would be like for someone who has never been to America.” Tiggas then asked students to consider some of their favorite family or religious traditions, and imagine living in a place where they might be considered foreign or even against the law.
An international human rights group based here in Richmond, Hardwired Global aims to “create peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies, by advancing human rights for all people, no matter who they are, mainly in countries that are experiencing conflict, war and genocide,” said Tiggas.
At the end of the month, the group will launch a new training program for over 100 high school students, bringing both refugee and non-refugee students “together to create better understanding between the two groups, which will ultimately create a built-in support system for refugees in schools,” Tiggas said.
“Our training programs start by addressing the root causes of conflict,” she said. “Participants think about the different perceptions they have of others and work to develop a deeper level of respect for the fundamental dignity that all people share, regardless of their religion, beliefs, ethnicity, gender or other differences. We encourage individuality, differences of opinion and diversity and teach that those things are actually imperative for a society to flourish.”
About 20 Trinity student volunteers helped the nonprofit run a 3-hour simulation of this new training program on Tuesday, January 25, providing valuable feedback prior to the late January rollout. In groups of four, the students participated in role-playing and listening exercises aimed at fostering self-confidence and a more inclusive environment in their schools and communities. “Trinity is playing a big role in our preparations,” Tiggas said. “We cannot thank you enough for doing a test run with us.”