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Fleeing Home: The Refugee Experience in the United States

  • 06:00 PM
  • 970-476-0954

Fleeing Home: The Refugee Experience in the United States

Hot Topics

With Hardin Lang, Abdi Nor Iftin and Isabella Rivas Discua

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019

Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; program from 6 – 7:30 p.m.

Vail Interfaith Chapel | Vail

A refugee is a person who has fled their country due to fear of, or actual, persecution and violence due to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Refugees, also called displaced persons, are unable to return to their country because the adverse conditions that prompted their flight have yet to be resolved. The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees defined the term and the responsibilities of nations to grant asylum to those rendered stateless due to warfare, famine or natural disasters. Globally, there are nearly 70 million displaced persons.
Hardin Lang will provide an overview to understand the issues that refugees face in their own countries, describe their path to reach a country that will accept them, their experience after arriving in the accepting country and the process to become integrated. Abdi Nor Iftin and Isabella Rivas Discua will join Lang for this presentation, describing their unique journeys and those of their peer groups in coming to the United States, both their struggles and experiences.
Hardin Lang is vice president for programs and policy at Refugees International. He is a veteran of six United Nations peacekeeping and humanitarian field missions. During his UN tenure, Hardin helped launch the UN stabilization in Mali, served as head of office for the UN special envoy for Haiti and worked on the UN mission in Afghanistan. Earlier in his career, Hardin spent two years working for the UN mission in Kosovo and three years working for the UN and human rights organizations in Guatemala.  
Immediately prior to joining Refugees International, Hardin was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP) where he specialized in Middle East conflicts and national security policy. He has also been a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Hardin has published widely, including in The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report. Hardin holds a master’s degree in public policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, a master’s degree in international history with a focus on the Middle East from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College.
Abdi Nor Iftin currently lives in Portland, Maine, where he works as an interpreter for Somalis who have immigrated to the state. Abdi was recently accepted to the University of Southern Maine where he will be studying political science. His memoir, “Call Me American” was published in 2018 by Penguin Random House. It is the incredible true story of a boy living in war-torn Somalia who escapes to America–first by way of the movies and, years later, through a miraculous green card.
Isabella Rivas Discua is an F-1 Immigrant, also known as an international student, from La Ceiba, Honduras. She arrived in the United States five years ago, mid-winter, to attain her Bachelors in Education at the Colorado Mountain College in the Vail Valley. She left behind her culture, family and life when she was 18 and has only been back in her home country twice. She has completed her Bachelors in Education with an endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse students and is pursuing an additional endorsement for Bilingual Education at the same college. It is her goal to work in the Eagle County School District as a classroom teacher and continue working on her own education. 
This program is generously underwritten by Barbara Krichbaum & Kent Erickson; the Hot Topics Series is generously underwritten by Cindy Engles and Kathy & Neal Kimmel.

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