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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Migration and Refugee Integration Research Center at the U

Migration+and+Refugee+Integration+Research+Center+at+the+U

The U’s College of Social Work has launched their new center for research on migration and refugee Integration (the CRMRI).  The event began with speaker presentations, and concluded with a reception that included a photo exhibit by the International Rescue Committee and food from Spice Kitchen.

Salt Lake City has a significant population of refugees, and integration of these immigrants in a healthy way has been an ongoing process for decades.  The aim of the new center’s research will be to advance the science of successful integration of new Americans into Salt Lake’s society.  The academic center is the first of it’s kind west of the Mississippi.

Caren Frost, was one of the key speakers at the welcoming ceremony.  It was Frost and her associates who formulated the idea for a migrant integration center, and after months of paperwork and grant proposals their project has finally been brought into fruition.

img_4745According to Frost, the Center will have three main foundational components; research, academics, and outreach.  On the research side, they want to study evidence-based practices around a reduction of systemic barriers, community capacity building, and empowerment.  The key to a healthy migratory process into Utah is smooth integration, which in the end will have better outcomes for all populations of people involved.

Academically the researchers would like to form a listing of courses that help educate students and members of the community about migration and integration, and its effects on different communities.  They want to create more community engaged learning opportunities and faculty mentors and, Frost adds, “Mentor undergraduate and graduate students who come from refugee backgrounds to ensure that they are successful in their academic careers.”

In terms of outreach, the center will be focusing on offering symposia at the national level in spring semesters and fall for community partners to facilitate sharing of research findings and designing of new programs for education and awareness.  They also will be providing workshops led by national speakers.  The long term goal is to become the organization that addresses questions around immigrant and refugee integration, and the person who national entities think of first when questions around the integration of new communities arises.

Salt Lake City, while it’s not the most diverse city in the world, has a reasonably large refugee populations.  According to Frost, “Over the last 30-40 years, we have gained about 35,000 refugees in the state of Utah.”

Healthy integration of these populations is key.

The center is located within the college of social work, but they are partnered with the Division of Public Health, as well as with faculty members around campus.  They are allied with several other organizations as well, resulting in a consortium of people who are collaborating towards the goal of better integrating migrant populations into Salt Lake City.

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