Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

The Refugee-American Initiative Highlights the Experiences of Refugees in the U.S.

Examining the refugee experience through art, media studies, and policy

The Refugee-American Initiative Highlights the Experiences of Refugees in the U.S.

By Angelena Lufrano

December 13, 2018

Dr. Anna Kim and Dr. Sherry Ryan of the School of Public Affairs collaborated on the new Refugee-American Initiative, which looks to highlight the refugee experience in the United States. The project was created as a timely and appropriate response to the current policy battle regarding immigration and refugees. It received funding from the PSFA Project for the Public Good, which funds projects that combine students, faculty and community partners.

The project plans to highlight underrepresented minority groups, including but not limited to Southeast Asian communities, Arab-American and Muslim communities, African-immigrant (Somali) communities, and Central American communities.

“The people of San Diego and San Diego State University are shaped by refugee and immigrant experiences,” said Dr. Kim. “Many are immigrants themselves or come from immigrant families. This is a topic that hits very close to home in San Diego, a city that receives more refugees than any other county in California.”

This initiative includes a multitude of supporting partners. University partners include SAGE, the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Division of Analytics, the Center for Intercultural Relations, and the DACA Resource Center. Additionally, faculty members from the School of Theatre, Television, and Film; the School of Music and Dance; the School of Journalism and Media Studies; the School of Public Affairs; and the School of Communication will work to create unique programming for the upcoming year.

Community partners include the International Rescue Committee, City Heights Community Development Corporation, Asian Pacific American Coalition, local churches, and community health clinics.

“This is just one of the many opportunities that would allow for building a structure to expand how San Diego and SDSU treat border issues,” said Dr. Kim. “Ultimately, we envision creating a possible minor to focus on refugee issues, or to create a center for refugees within the School of Public Affairs.”

The first event held as part of the initiative was a panel discussion and fundraiser for Central American migrants travelling to the border. The event was in direct response to the recent militarized response the migrants were met with, and continue to deal with, as they try to enter the country. To learn more about this event, you can read: School of Public Affairs Presents Policy-Based Panel on Migrant and Refugee Issues.

To learn more information about the Refugee-American Initiative, visit

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

News List