GREENSBORO, NC – Millions of Syrians have fled the country that’s been overpowered by violence. A Greensboro college professor — whose parents were refugees — was moved to get her college involved.
“And so I thought, well, I don’t have a car, but I have a college campus, and it was around that time that the pope had called on every Parish in Europe to host a refugee family,” said Diya Abdo, Guilford College associate professor of English.
Diya Abdo is a Guilford College professor on a mission: to help refugee families from Syria that have escaped the violence.
“Well, what if we called on every campus in the world just like the pope called on every Parish in the world to host one refugee family. That would be thousands of people and so that’s where that came from,” said Abdo.
Abdo tells us her parents fled Palestine after the Six Day War and were refugees in Jordan, where she and her siblings were born. She says, growing up with refugee parents, it becomes part of your consciousness. So, other college leaders are on board with hosting a Syrian refugee family.
“Some of these have been granted visas and will be arriving into the U.S. So, these are individuals that are legal who have been very carefully vetted by the U.S. government. There are multiple steps I think 10 or 12 to make sure these individuals have no political affiliations that would be dangerous,” said Abdo.
Guilford College officials are working with local partners such as Church World Services and North Carolina African Services Coalition to get in touch with a refugee family. But they will have certain arrangements if a family is interested in staying at the college.
“It’s not healthy for the refugee family it’s not healthy for our students to be in a long corridor with a common bathroom. But on a small college we have a variety of housing types. For example, from small efficiency apartments to stand alone houses to apartments that have their own secured entrance,” said Todd Clark, Guilford College dean of students.
Officials say it’s part of the college’s culture to help, but to Abdo it hits home.
“Guilford’s a world leader in it, but we want everyone to do it,” said Abdo.
Guilford College officials say they have heard from colleges in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio about helping refugee families from Syria.