USF for Freedom: Symposium on Refugees, Forced Migrants, and Integration

Friday April 7, 2017 

1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

University of San Francisco - Downtown Campus

101 Howard St. Room 150

Free event open to the public

“We aim not only to help refugees get back on their feet to earn a living, but to restore dignity and hope and facilitate integration as well.”
— Fr Thomas H Smolich SJ, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) International Director.

Refugee Intolerance or Integration?

While social and political intolerance toward refugee migration persist, the practice and policies for refugee integration are the most promising solutions toward a more integrated, peaceful and secure future. Integration is also a smart economic, security and global choice fostering a global common future for humanity. 

Many international nongovernmental organizations and local / national nonprofits are on the forefront to establish effective and long term solutions to refugee crises and forced migrations issues worldwide. Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is one of those organizations that exemplify such best practice of integration through accompaniment, advocacy and direct service for emergencies and hospitality. The JRS Italy programs for refugee hospitality and integration coordinated by the Centro Astalli is one of those best practices admired by Pope Francis and highly regarded in Europe. 

Education, language acquisition, job opportunities, housing security, affrodable health care access, communication and networking are among the essential elements in refugee integration. The international community mandate to protect and provide dignity services for victims of war and discrimination deserves adequate national policies to promote hospitality and integration into our local communities.  

The University of San Francisco's Annual Symposium USF for Freedom aims at proposing and reflecting on those organizational best practice and connect our communities with these hopeful and dedicated works to make the world a better place. This year's symposium features some of the organizations and initiatives in the San Francisco Bay Area that exemplify refugee integration and hospitality. 

We are honored of the presence and representation of Jesuit Refugee Service Centro Astalli and we look forward to a constructive dialogue with the represented organizational, programs and technology solutions for refugee integration. 

The event is free to anyone interested to know more and engage more in refugee works.  


Program Schedule

1:00 pm Welcoming remarks - Dr. Marco Tavanti, MNA Program Director and MNA AGI-Rome Students 

1:10 pm Introductory remarks - Fr. Stephen Privett, SJ, University of San Francisco Chancellor 

1:20 pm Personal remarks - Meron Semedar, USF MA student and refugee from Eritrea

1:35 pm International remarks - Dr. Shirley McGuire, Senior Provost for Academic Affairs 

1:45 pm Refugee Integration in Europe and Italy - Ms. Chiara Peri, Administrator Centro Astalli Foundation - Jesuit Refugee Service

2:15 pm Q&A Session: What can the USA learn from European refugee integration best practices? 

2:30 pm Coffee Break and networking - AGI Posters on Refugee Service Management

2:45 pm Panel of Experts and organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area

Jane Pak, Moderator, Board of Directors, Refugee Transitions and USF Doctoral Student Human Rights and Multicultural Education 

Refugee Transitions - Laura Vaudreuil, Executive Director

Upwardly Global - Lana Radosavlijevic, Employee Services Associate

Catholic Charities San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo - Diana Otero, Program Director, Refugee & Immigrant Services San Mateo

Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants - Mona Afary, CERI Founder and Director

LinkedIn for Good - Maryam Ghofraniha, Head of Global Partnerships

San Francisco Board of Supervisors - Sandra Lee Fewer, District 1 Supervisor 

3:45 pm Q&A Session: What can SF Bay Area organizations and programs can promote for refugee integration?

4:00 pm Call to action exercise - AGI-Rome and Humanitarian Emergency Management MNA students 

4:30 pm Ecumenical concluding ceremony - USF University Ministry


Who is a Refugee? 

The symposium USF4freedom will also feature real stories of refugees. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries. The 1951 Geneva Convention is the main international instrument of refugee law. The Convention clearly spells out who a refugee is and the kind of legal protection, other assistance and social rights he or she should receive from the countries who have signed the document. The Convention also defines a refugee’s obligations to host governments and certain categories or people, such as war criminals, who do not qualify for refugee status. The Convention was limited to protecting mainly European refugees in the aftermath of World War II, but another document, the 1967 Protocol, expanded the scope of the Convention as the problem of displacement spread around the world. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has the mandate to provide international protection to refugees. UNHCR determines if an individual qualifies as a refugee and, if so, works toward the best possible durable solution for each refugee: safe return to the home country, local integration, or third-country resettlement. (UNHCR). 


What is Resettlement? 

"According to UNHCR’s latest statistics, there are approximately 21.3 million refugees in the world. The vast majority of these refugees will receive support in the country to which they fled until they can voluntarily and safely return to their home country. A small number of refugees will be allowed to become citizens in the country to which they fled, and an even smaller number — primarily those who are at the highest risk — will be resettled in a third country. While UNHCR reports that less than 1 percent of all refugees are resettled in third countries, the United States welcomes almost two-thirds of these refugees, more than all other resettlement countries combined." [...] The refugee resettlement in the United States represents its proud of its history of welcoming immigrants and refugees. The program has been in place since 1975 and has welcomed and integrated over 3 million refugees from all over the world. "Refugees have built new lives, homes and communities in towns and cities in all 50 states". (US Department of State)


Organizations Represented 

Hosting and Sponsoring Programs and Schools

Co-sponsoring and invited participating organizations: