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Volunteer and Service-Learning Center

Giving Big, Gaining Big!

Upcoming Events

Refugee Awareness Project: The World at Our Doorstep

Tuesday, October 12- Saturday, October 16, 2010.

A refugee is a person who flees his/her home country and is unable to return because of well-founded fears of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

Every year since 2005, over 1,000 refugees have been resettled in the Buffalo region from countries like Somalia, Sudan, Burma, Ghana, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Eritrea, Patistan, and more. Many live right next to campus!

The Refugee Awareness Project will help students, faculty, and our community better understand the refugee situation globally and in Buffalo, and encourage us all to appreciate, engage with, and better support our increasingly diverse communities. Download a poster of the week's events here.

All of the following events are free and open to the public.

  • Refugee Stories, Oct. 12, 3-5pm in Butler 210:
    Learn about what it means to be a refugee from the people who’ve lived it. Individuals from Burma, Liberia, Rwanda, Bhutan, Sudan, and Somalia will tell their personal stories of life before and after coming to Buffalo. In addition, a member of Buffalo’s refugee resettlement community will go over the logistics of how refugees end up in Buffalo and what exactly the resettlement process entails. Refreshments and light hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

  • Community Marketplace, Oct. 13, 11-2pm in Student Union:
    Stop by the union and learn more about 15 refugee-serving organizations and what opportunities there might be to work with them. Organizations will include Journey’s End Refugee Services, the West Side Bazaar Initiative, Jericho Road Ministries, and Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement among many others.

  • God Grew Tired of Us, Oct. 13, 7pm Bulger East:
    This film tells the story of four “lost boys” of Sudan who embark on a journey to America after years of wandering Sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety. They end up in Syracuse and Pittsburgh, where they chronicle hardship of a different variety, and express their hopes of maintaining their cultural identity. The film will be presented by Buffalo State graduate and lost boy of Sudan, Peter Anthony.

  • Active Learning in Refugee Communities, Oct. 14, 12:15-1:30pm in Butler 210:
    Faculty members will share experiences with service-learning projects centered around refugee issues and communities. Group discussion surrounding future collaboration will follow. Faculty presenters include: Mary C. Cummings, Clinical Professor, Elementary Education and Reading Dept.; Gary Welborn, Associate Professor, Sociology Dept; Jill Norvilitis, Associate Professor, Psychology Dept; Kim Irvine, Professor, Geography and Planning and Director of the Center for Southeast Asia Environment and Sustainable Development. Community partners involved in refugee supports will also participate.

  • SIOP Training, Oct. 14, 3-6pm, Room 210 E.H. Butler Library:
    *registration required
    Led by Buffalo Public School Director of Multilingual Education Tamara Alsace and Mary C. Cummings, Clinical Professor, Elementary Education and Reading Department.

    This workshop will give teachers and teacher candidates an introduction to Sheltered Instruction for diverse English language learners in the context of the regular classroom. It is not ESL training however we will be using some ESL strategies. We will be introducing the SIOP model, or Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, which is currently being implemented in the Buffalo City Schools. The workshop will highlight the use of content and language objectives, making content comprehensible, student engagement and expectations, understanding cultural backgrounds and second language acquisition. This will be a first step for teachers in the regular classroom to support the learning of all students regardless of language.

    The SIOP training is open to students, community members, and educators. To register contact the Volunteer and Service-Learning Center at or call 878-5811 and provide us with your name, number, email address, and your organization or BSC major. Certificates of Attendance will be provided.This event is organized in partnership with Refugee Tutoring Project.

  • Fall Community Service Day, Saturday October 16th, 8:30am-12:00pm:
    Come volunteer to do some hands-on work in refugee communities and in Buffalo’s west side. Students will engage with refugee populations in service projects as part of the Volunteer and Service-Learning Fall Community Service Day. To sign up, or for more information, email the Volunteer and Service-Learning Center at
    *Volunteer registration is open to students, staff and faculty of BSC.
    The Service Day will be followed by a picnic and celebration with members of our local refugee community. More details to come.

    Film Resources for the Classroom:

    The following films are available to Buffalo State faculty members and students through the VSLC for screening in your classroom in conjunction with Refugee Awareness Project. Contact the VSLC to plan a screening.

  • Burma VJ, 2008
    Summary: Using smuggled footage, this documentary tells the story of the 2007 protests against the military dictatorship in Burma (Myanmar) by thousands of monks. Major players in the fight for democracy in Burma live as refugees in Buffalo today, and continue to work toward democracy in their home country. Website:

  • God Grew Tired of Us, 2006
    Summary: Four “lost boys” of Sudan embark on a journey to America after years of wandering Sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety. They end up in Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Website:

  • Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, 2005
    Summary: 6 refugees come together in Guinea after decades of war forced them to leave Sierra Leone. They grapple with their harsh experiences, fight back, and educate with music. Website:

  • Rain in a Dry Land, 2007
    Summary: This film chronicles the story of two Somali-Bantu families, transported by relief agencies from years of civil war and refugee camp life to Springfield, Massachusetts and Atlanta, Georgia. Website:

    VSLC Exchange Newsletters

    View the VSLC Exchange Newsletter 2010
    View the VSLC Exchange Newsletter 2009

    Recent Events

    • Volunteer Fair- September 15, 2010

      Our Fall 2010 Volunteer Fair hosted 28 area non-profit institutions and agencies. Recruiters reported having more than 729 conversations with students. Many mentioned how committed and focused Buffalo State students are to community service.

    • Orientation Saturday of Service- August 28, 2010

      On August 28th , 175 first year students and orientation personnel spent an afternoon working in the community. They partnered with agencies that were conducting community surveys, lot reclamation, housing revitalization, and neighborhood clean-ups.

    • Celebration of Service- May 5, 2010

      The annual Celebration of Service Luncheon and Awards Ceremony was held at Butler 210
      at the end of the spring semester.

      2009 News and Events
      2008 News and Events
      2007 News and Events

      Updated: 1/29/2010