UNT announced last week they will be offering a new refugee exchange program. This exciting program offers an academically and inhabitably challenging opportunity for students of all majors. A refugee will take up a student’s classes, job, apartment, and everything else they’ve taken for granted their entire lives; in exchange a plucky young Eagle will travel to whatever remains of the partially collapsed building their counterpart was squatting in for the adventure of a lifetime!
UNT joins several universities who have implemented the program in the past year. University of Wisconsin graduate Samuel Stokes speaks highly of the marketable skills gained in his time overseas. “The random guerilla raids helped me develop great organizational proficiency.” He adds, “I made and lost tons of friends!”
Another draw to the program is the chance to witness some of the world’s most ancient treasures up close before they’re sold on the black market. The curriculum is unique in that students do not attend a specific university or stay with a host family. “We just sort of let em loose,” said Mike Travis, the program’s creator. “It’s a much more liberal design for students who don’t fit the typical exchange student model.”
Despite the low cost and 100% acceptance rate, many students are still hesitant. Travis claims safety is his highest priority, stressing no less than 11 warlords throughout the region have been paid off to keep an eye on students. But for some, it’s not the collapsing of civil society that deters them, but the scarce supply of wifi. This was a central concern to Karen Andrews, but she said she barely noticed it during her travels. “The nine civil wars between Pakistan and Nigeria kept me pretty busy,” she says. “As a political science major, the exposure to unmitigated anarchy was invaluable to my understanding that I did not want to be a political science major.”
Besides not knowing when they will see their families again and battling malnutrition, incoming refugees face many difficulties when adjusting to American life. In order to make the transition easier, UNT confirmed it will provide a two day orientation for incoming students. While the students speak English, an extensive portion of the orientation has been dedicated to overcoming language barriers. “We don’t want them to be alarmed when they hear their peers say they have nothing to wear, or they’re poor,” one Eagle Ambassador says. “They will also receive supplementary readings on veganism and Game of Thrones.”
Several sororities and fraternities have offered to lend a helping hand by extending membership and coolness to exchange students. This was a great help to Bana at Mississippi State. “My sisters have taught me so much about American culture, except why people invite others to go to the bathroom with them. No one has been able to explain that.”
Parents, advisors, baristas, and professors have raised concerns over the security of the program, but according to Karen Andrews, only the student can decide whether this is a reckless endeavor or the chance to just go out there and find themselves. “I just asked myself: Karen, are you gonna sit here and let another exodus pass you by? Not this time.”