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Campus & Community

“Year of Immigration” Fosters Conversation, Community

UMD Announces Initiative to Explore Urgent Issues

By Sarah Marston

Year of Immigration

Illustration by Jason Keisling

Illustration by Jason Keisling

On a campus with a community representing more than 130 countries, University of Maryland officials today announced the “Year of Immigration” to embrace and increase awareness of the diversity that defines America.

With the participation of faculty, staff and students, the year-long commemoration is designed to focus on urgent issues related to immigration, global migration and refugees, and to advance UMD’s mission to prepare students for an increasingly global society.

“One of the University of Maryland’s great strengths is our international diversity, both on campus and in our surrounding neighborhoods,” said Associate Vice President for International Affairs Ross Lewin. “We hope the Year of Immigration will provide opportunities to learn, discuss solutions and connect in ways that will foster a more inclusive community.”

Migration is one of the biggest challenges facing the U.S. and the world at large, and immigration reform is a centerpiece of state and national political campaigns. As of last month, more than 500 migrant children were waiting to be reunited with their families following separation at the U.S.-Mexico border, and bipartisan agreement on U.S. immigration reform remains a challenge. Last year, a record 68.5 million people around the world were forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and poverty. That’s an average of one person displaced every two seconds.

The Year of Immigration will offer courses and programs under three interconnected themes:

Conversation: Educational opportunities will aim to raise awareness and deepen knowledge on key issues related to immigration, global migration and refugees. This includes the selection for the 2018-19 First Year Book, “The Refugees,” by Vietnamese-American novelist and Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, who will visit campus in October as part of the College of Arts and Humanities’ Dean’s Lecture Series. The initiative will highlight immigration and migration-themed courses from across the university’s schools and colleges, Education Abroad programs and the Global Classrooms.
Community: UMD’s
Office of Community Engagement will host a series of translation and interpretation events throughout the year, including this spring’s “Translatathon” that will provide translation services to local immigrant populations, as well as a design thinking workshop this fall with area nonprofit organizations focused on immigrant civil rights issues.

 Culture: Original storytelling, a film festival, international food events through Dining Services, exhibitions presented by UMD Libraries’ Special Collections and numerous globally focused arts performances, including an opera and chamber music series as part of the School of Music Maryland Opera Studio’s Kurt Weill Festival beginning in October, will celebrate the international diversity and cultures of the campus and surrounding communities.

“The Year of Immigration provides an opportunity for us to highlight and engage students, faculty and staff in the wide range of research, teaching and service conducted on the flagship campus, illuminating contemporary and historical aspects of the movement of peoples across and within borders,” said Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.

For more information, visit, or engage on social media with #YearofImmigration.

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