Fostering the Friendly City in SPCE

School of Professional & Continuing Education (SPCE)

Around the world, there have been around 82.4 million people who have been forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, and events that have seriously disrupted public order.(1) These displaced people are typically called “refugees,” and they are unable or unwilling to return to their home countries due to fear of persecution. Therefore, many displaced people have sought refuge in the United States; however, only 150,000 refugees are actually admitted to the U.S. in a fiscal year. In 2021, most of those refugees are fleeing Afghanistan and turning to the US for help. Our refugee and immigrant population in Harrisonburg, Virginia is high, with over 46 countries being represented in the city alone. (2)


This has been a very complicated, confusing, and heart wrenching news story for the last several weeks, and I have wondered what could be done to help. Especially living in Harrisonburg, which is a sanctuary city, this issue is a serious one in our community; even in the Friendly City, I have heard the negativity and racism directed at displaced people. However, within the School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE), I have been given tons of ideas and resources on how to help displaced individuals in our community and why it is so important to aid them in any way that we are able.

At SPCE, we have a strong emphasis on the development and facilitation of youth programs; these kinds of programs can be incredibly beneficial to refugee children because they provide a safe, fun environment where kids can learn and grow without having to worry about their possibly tumultuous lives outside of the program. Immigrant youth are a quintessential part of Harrisonburg’s environment and culture, and our youth programs work to emphasize their importance. One of our most important thoughts at SPCE is that the “non-traditional learner” has a place here, and that stance has only gotten stronger with the influx of refugees to our Friendly City.

1  Church World Service “Welcome Week” 2021


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Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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