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Indiana Universities Work to Support Displaced Afghan Scholars, Students

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Monday, October 25, 2021   

BLOOMINGTON, IN -- Universities in Indiana are working to support Afghan students and scholars; both those still in Afghanistan and those arriving to the Hoosier State.

Indiana University is a host partner for the Scholar Rescue Fund and is part of the Scholars At Risk Network, which both aim to coordinate and fund fellowships or temporary teaching and research positions for displaced scholars at other higher-education institutions across the world.

John Wilkerson, interim associate vice president for International Services at Indiana University in Bloomington, said they are working to connect with students who currently are in Camp Atterbury, after fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"There are a host of challenges that face these students," Wilkerson explained. "It can run the gamut, all the way to missing credentials to access to financial aid. How do they access state and federal financial aid?"

More than 6,000 refugees from Afghanistan are at Camp Atterbury, awaiting resettlement. As colder weather approaches, officials at the base are asking Hoosiers to consider donating clothing, especially long-sleeved t-shirts, underwear, pants and jackets.

Wilkerson pointed out it is so important for different sectors of the community to work together, to make sure entire families are able to thrive, from younger students to adults looking for job opportunities. He added if health and safety are not taken care of, it's much harder to seek an education.

"It's important as they weave themselves into the fabric of our state," Wilkerson contended. "It's important for us to ensure that they have every opportunity to succeed here, to find a home and to be great contributors to the state, culturally, economically and socially."

Groups have created a resource toolkit for universities looking to support Afghan refugees. They include determining if hosting students and scholars is right for your institution, assessing capacity and the resources that can be made available, determining a start date and connecting with community organizations and businesses.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.


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