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Guilford College professor starts ‘Every Campus a Refuge’ program to help refugees

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- There are tens of millions of refugees worldwide. What can any one person do?

Diya Abdo’s answer is simple.

“You have to start somewhere,” she says.

Abdo is a professor at Guilford College who was thinking about how she and her community could help with the issue, when Pope Francis announced in the fall of 2015 that he wanted every Catholic parish in Europe to host at least one refugee family. That was Abdo’s inspiration.

“We're a small, private school which means, in many ways, we have a say over our resources in a way that public schools don't,” she says, then reciting Guilford College’s history in helping desperate people, such as runaway slaves in the 19th century. “A place like Guilford College should be the first place to do something like this.”

So she started a program called “Every Campus a Refuge.” They take in refugees from various places and do the difficult work of helping them assimilate and become successful as new Americans.

“We're really trying to give them as much support so that they can stand up on their own feet, here in Greensboro,” Abdo says. “To have that softer landing and stronger beginning that we're hoping our program is providing.”

So far, there are about a half dozen universities, all private schools, as part of Every Campus a Refuge, including Wake Forest University.

See how it all works – and meet the first refugee ECAR helped – in this edition of the Buckley Report.