About the Refugee Education and Integration Service Center!
The Refugee Education and Integration Service (REIS) center seeks to provide important educational resources to enable schools, refugee communities, and service providers to meet the needs of refugee students and their families throughout the state of Wisconsin. Housed at the Center for Urban Community Development (CUCD) in the School of Continuing Education at UW-Milwaukee, the Center works closely with community partners, refugee resettlement agencies, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and the Department of Children and Families to:
- Develop, share, and distribute resources regarding refugee education and resettlement
- Develop a network of refugee providers and school systems in order to build a system of support for refugee children and families
- Provide training, professional development, and educational programs for service providers, and educators in order to enhance and improve refugee accessibility to education and support
- Exchange refugee concerns and best practices in order to improve and enhance existing refugee support programs and services.
Community Resources/ Events
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Welcome to the Refugee Education and Integration Service Center! (REISC)
Supporting Refugees and their Families: REISC Open House Celebration 2012
The Refugee Education and Integration Service Center (REISC), an academic and community initiative led by the Center for Urban Community Development (CUCD) of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, was formally opened at the Milwaukee Academy of Chinese Languages (MACL) on October 26, 2012. About 100 representatives from the refugee community, local and state offices, and other community refugee-serving agencies joined the celebration.
The event began with an invocation by Fr. David Bergne, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Milwaukee, followed by welcome and opening remarks given by James Sayavong, MACL Principal, and Dr. Cheryl Ajirotutu, Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Inclusion & Engagement at UW-Milwaukee.
Dr. Kalyani Rai, UWM Associate Professor and REISC Executive Director, gave an overview of the REISC and its goal of moving the refugee education agenda forward in order to achieve academic outcomes for refugee children, engage refugee parents in the schools, and support refugee families through access and use of needed community resources in Milwaukee.
The “Lost Boys of Sudan” video was shown to educate participants about the plight of refugees in the refugee camps and in the U.S. Local and state public officials spoke on a panel after the viewing of the video to discuss their policies and responses on refugee education and self-sustainability. Panel of speakers included: Mette J. Brogden (WI State Refugee Coordinator), Jacqueline Iribarren (WI Department of Public Instruction), Fessahaye Mebrahtu (Executive Director of the Pan African Community Association in Milwaukee), and Steven Mahan, Community Services Grant Administration Director, representing Milwaukee Mayor’s office. The panel was facilitated by Jesus Santos, Director of MPS Division of Bilingual and Multicultural Education. Dr. Sebastian Ssempijjita, Executive Director/CEO of Sebastian Family Psychology Practice, gave the closing remark and thanked everyone for their participation in present and future REISC endeavors.
Attendees also enjoyed a Chinese Lion Dance performance from the students of MACL, a Nepali dance by girls from the Milwaukee Pariwar Association and African drumming. The celebration ended with light refreshments of samosas, warm dumplings and eggrolls to compliment the event.
A UW-Milwaukee student volunteer, Julie Vang commented that the event was a great way to be introduced to the refugee population in Milwaukee, and to also see how the different local and state partnerships are working together to support refugee families, “This really opens my eyes to the communities that we have here in Milwaukee, and how the community is working together. This is so awesome. I’m so interested to learn more and work with this group.” Ms. Vang will be volunteering for the Literacy for Life home-based literacy program for newly-arrived refugees, and is eager to begin this important work.
On right: Fr. David Bergne, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Milwaukee, Middle: Dr. Cheryl Aijirotutu Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Inclusion and Engagement, UW-Milwaukee, and on left: James Sayavong, MACL Principal
Dr. Kalyani Rai, UW-Milwaukee Associate Professor and REISC Executive Director
Video Panel. From left to right: Fessahaye Mebrahtu (Executive Director of the Pan African Community Association in Milwaukee), Mette J. Brogden (WI State Refugee Coordinator), Jacqueline Iribarren (WI Department of Public Instruction), and Steven Mahan, Community Services Grant Administration Director
Students from MACL performing a Chinese Lion Dance
Attendees lining up for refreshments.