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Students who founded the Vassar Refugee Solidarity Initiative in 2015 with Professor Maria Höhn. Photo by Kristen Rehder.

Vassar Refugee Solidarity is a student organization located at Vassar College with several initiatives including local refugee resettlement and on-campus education projects. To get involved, email

Mission Statement

According to the UNHCR, there are now more than 65 million forcibly displaced persons in the world. In sheer numbers, this is the largest displacement of people since the Second World War. Migration is a generational phenomenon that is global in its impact and local in its effect. Along with climate change, this forced movement of people is going to define generations and the structure of the world we live in. The Vassar Refugee Solidarity initiative was inspired by and started in response to this realization.

Governments, NGOs, religious relief agencies, and tech innovators across the globe are scrambling to respond. Existing models for humanitarian aid developed in the wake of the Second World War are based on the hierarchical vision of that time, focusing on the immediate needs of displaced persons: safety, shelter, healthcare and sustenance. In order to engage appropriately, these models need to be radically rethought. As members of an institution of higher learning, we are committed to innovating new, horizontal models of global and transnational educational solidarity and to motivate our community to be engaged actors in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Rethinking Mental Health in the Context of Forced Migration (November 2020)

In November 2020, Vassar Refugee Solidarity and the Psychology Majors Committee hosted a panel discussion on mental health of refugees and forced migrants. The panel included Dr. Adam Brown (The New School), Dr. Rachel Cohen (Common Threads Project), and Dr. Sue Trumbetta (Vassar College).

Conversations Unbound

​​Conversations Unbound (CU), previously known as Speak to Me, was founded by Vassar students and is an initiative that grew out of Vassar Refugee Solidarity. CU is now a registered non-profit organization in the United States. Through this project, forcibly displaced individuals act as paid online Arabic or Spanish language tutors for college students enrolled in Arabic or Spanish language classes at Vassar, Michigan State, and the University of Richmond, with the tutor sessions being integrated into the language curriculum. If you are interested in integrating Conversations Unbound into your school’s curriculum, please visit their website.