A Foothold for Refugees

UMD Welcomes Afghan Arrivals to Campus Residences

The University of Maryland this spring welcomed several refugee and evacuee families from Afghanistan in a first-of-its-kind approach for a public university.

In collaboration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), UMD is providing temporary housing for vulnerable Afghans, including those who face the risk of persecution and violence in Afghanistan due to their work alongside U.S. personnel.

“The University of Maryland is part of a global community, and when we have the opportunity to support humanity, we embrace it,” says President Darryll J. Pines.

While higher education institutions have previously housed refugees in nearby school-owned homes and partnered with the IRC and other agencies, this is the first time a public university has used on-campus facilities for families.

They’ll live at UMD for up to 12 months while the IRC helps them find permanent housing, employment, counseling, education and social services to support their transition to the United States.

Dining Services supplied food staples; the Office of the President, the Office of Community Engagement and the Alumni Association provided welcome bags containing UMD-themed items; and University Libraries delivered bilingual books in Dari and Pashto, along with snacks, toys and kitchen items.

In another bid to help refugees—Afghans as well as victims of the 2021 Haiti earthquake and unrest in Central America—dozens of UMD students have been trained as part of the MLAW Assistance Program to help refugees learn English, gain financial literacy and access services.

“Public education is really about public good,” says Patty Perillo, UMD’s vice president for student affairs. “We are creating the model here at Maryland.”


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