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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Responding to the Global Refugee Crisis at BC and Beyond

community conversation / refugee portal / educational exhibit

Erbil Refugee Camp
Photo by Anmarrfaat License:

The world is currently facing the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II, with 65 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, including 23 million refugees. How will we respond? 

Although education about facts and figures is important, there is no substitute for a personal encounter to humanize a distant other, and thus reframe our understanding of a global crisis. At Boston College, The Refugee Project will take three forms: 

Dinner and Community Conversation

Date: Monday, November 13, 2017
Location: Gasson Commons (Room 112) 
Time: 6:00 - 8:00pm 

Join us for food and refreshments, listen to the stories of refugees who have resettled in the Boston area, and hear short talks from BC experts about how we at BC can respond to the global refugee crisis. BC speakers will include professors Westy Egmont, Kristin Heyer, and Erik Owens.

Free and open to the public, but please RSVP here to help us order enough food.

Co-sponsored by the Office of International Programs, and part of International Education Week 2017


A Shared_Studios Portal_Container

Refugee Portal

Date: Monday, Nov. 13 - Thursday Nov. 16, 2017
Times: 8:00am - 12:00pm
[By appointment only]
Location: That big gold shipping container in O'Neill Plaza 

The Refugee Portal is the centerpiece of The Refugee Project at BC. Shared_Studios has transformed a shipping container into a studio with a wall-sized videoconferencing screen that connects to other "portals" worldwide to create uncommon conversational/educational opportunities. For four hours each morning from Nov 13-16 we will host a series of 25-minute conversations between small groups of 3-6 BC people and small groups of Syrian and Iraqi refugees/IDPs in Iraq, Jordan, and Berlin. Conversations will center on music, sports, family, and culture, as well as the particular migration experiences of people on both ends of the portal.

If you would like the opportunity to enter into a conversation in the portal during one of our sessions, please sign up on this registration page. Not everyone who signs up will be able to can get a turn, because of scheduling issues and space constraints, but we will work to get as many people as possible into the conversations.


Educational Exhibit and Online Modules 

Dates: Monday, Nov. 13 - Thursday Nov. 16, 2017
Location: O'Neill Library Main Lobby 

Stop by the main lobby of O'Neill Library this week to peer into the street life at the Harsham Camp outside Erbil, Iraq, thanks to immersive video from National Geographic; or read the migration stories of refugees around the world; or dig into the facts and figures that show the extent of the global migration crisis.  

Prior to entering the portal, we hope that you will explore the information available on the EdX website so as to learn a bit more about your conversation partners. You can do so by visiting this link and creating a free EdX account. 


The Refugee Project is a collaboration with colleagues at Harvard Divinity School, the American Academy of Religion, and Shared_Studios (with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation), in the Boston area November 4-20, 2017. 

Read More

In the News

BC News featured the Boisi Center's 2017 Refugee Portal in a recent article and accompanying "video minute."

As part of the week long Refugee Portal, O'Neill Library hosted an exhibit displaying the stories and outlining the journeys of refugees of various backgrounds. 

The Boston Globe covered the Refugee Portal's arrival at Harvard Divinity School during the week of November 5, 2017. HDS students connected with Gazans as well as refugee camps in Erbil, Iraq; Amman, Jordan and Berlin, Germany. The portal will arrive at BC on Friday, November 10, in anticipation of programming starting November 13, 2017.