Students Create Digital Collection of Stories About Refugee Resettlement in Akron
Last summer, as the Taliban took over Afghanistan, many Afghans fled the country. Some landed in Akron, where a network of volunteers and government, nonprofit and educational organizations were waiting. Akron has one of the largest refugee resettlement programs in Ohio. Their goal is to help new arrivals find not just a haven, but a home in Akron.
During the spring 2022 semester, 16 journalism students in the Advanced Magazine Writing class, taught by Professor Jacqueline Marino, went to Akron’s North Hill neighborhood, where immigrants from more than a dozen nations work and live.
They found many stories there.
- Kelly Krabill revealed how difficult it is for refugees to use their skills and education in this country. One refugee went from being a top government official to working at a gas station.
- Catie Pusateri showed how Afghan women are loving the independence of working and driving for the first time.
- Hannah Davis, Morgan McGrath and Megan McSweeney explored how English is taught to students of all ages, levels and language backgrounds.
- Sean Blevins relayed the excitement of the North Hill renaissance, thanks to the neighborhood’s many new arrivals and their spirit of community and entrepreneurship.
- Jimmy Oswald explained how one Bhutanese refugee is keeping the art and culture of his heritage thriving in Akron.
Through these pieces and more, the students reflect one collective, always-evolving story of resettlement in Akron.
The refugee resettlement process can take years. Those who aren’t in the community themselves may have no idea a refugee is working the register at their gas station, handling their orders at the Amazon fulfillment center or packaging their chicken at a nearby factory – all while trying to attend English classes and find transportation, affordable housing and healthcare.