Webinar highlights immigration and asylum process


On Monday, Sept. 21, the sophomore class had the opportunity to experience a webinar with three former fellows from the UConn Law School Asylum and Human Rights Clinic. 

KO welcomed third year law students Paola Leiva, Guneet Josen, and Tennyson Benedict to engage in a question and answer session with the students attending the event. Sophomores also heard from the former fellows about some of the different cases that they have worked on last year when they participated in the clinic. The event was organized by KO’s English and history Department Chairs, Catherine Schieffelin and David Baker, but eight students helped to plan, introduce fellows, and moderate the discussion. 

This past summer, incoming sophomores read “The Displaced,” a book by 17 different writers on their experiences as refugees, for their upcoming modern world history class. Students also read “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid, which highlights the refugee and immigration experience, for their English class. 

After completing their summer reading assignments at the start of the year, this webinar served as an opportunity for them to ask questions and learn more about the immigration and asylum process.

Sophomore Luke Roen, one of the two moderators of the webinar, said that he thought the event was invaluable to furthering everyone’s knowledge about immigration and refugee experiences. 

“One of the biggest takeaways for me was seeing how the books we read this summer, ‘Exit West’ and ‘The Displaced,’ taught us about real-world issues going on now that I wasn’t knowledgeable about,” Luke said.It was important to have this event because it informed many people about a topic that isn’t talked about often and to learn about a struggle that many of us have not experienced.” 

With the webinar being student-led, sophomores came up with different questions they wanted to ask in their English and history classes, and two Wyvern representatives, Luke and fellow sophomore Alyssa Temkin spoke to these law students and asked their questions. Aside from the more structured Q&A that took place for most of the webinar, there was also a period at the end where students could type more questions in the online chatbox for the moderators to ask. 

Sophomore Lena Nowaczek also shared a role in the webinar, introducing two of the fellows. She said she is very grateful for the experience and shared why she believes the webinar was beneficial to her understanding of this topic. “Refugees and asylum seekers constantly deal with safety problems,” Lena said. “It is important to realize how the current international law works and understand that these people need our help, not social stigma. I believe that stories that we have heard from the fellows help everyone become more empathetic for them and their situation.”

Overall, the sophomore class can agree that it was a unique and educational experience.