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Student organization aims to help refugee families

Junior Rain Tiller started the "No Lost Generation" group on campus.

Junior Rain Tiller started the "No Lost Generation" group on campus.

As citizens and political leaders around the world debate admitting refugees into their respective countries, one UNC student seeks to make a difference on a local scale.

In January, junior Rain Tiller started a UNC chapter of No Lost Generation, a student initiative devoted to raising awareness about the plight of children suffering from the conflict in Syria. 

No Lost Generation, which operates through the U.S. Department of State, aims to bring attention to the real concern about the potential “loss” of a generation of Syrian children, who are living lives filled with violence and displacement. 

Tiller said she wanted to start a chapter of No Lost Generation to bring awareness to the issues surrounding the refugee crisis and hopefully to inspire students to take action.

“I just hope that people will learn more about it from a policy side, but also from a personal side,” Tiller said. “I just think that now since current events are happening, people are realizing and wanting to get involved with it.”

Tiller, who is majoring in political science and global studies, volunteers with the Refugee Community Partnership and has taught English to refugees in the past. 

She said the Chapel Hill community has a history of refugees — including UNC students, campus workers and several Syrian families who have resettled in the area.

“It’s a global issue, but it’s so, so local because it’s impacting our immediate community,” Tiller said. “I mean, on campus, down the street from where you live — it has a really interesting geopolitic to it.”

Tiller said she hopes No Lost Generation will work in tandem with other refugee organizations in the community, complementing their actions and filling an important, independent niche — one that helps raise awareness of the refugee crisis.

First-year Lizzi Gibson, a member of No Lost Generation, said she is looking forward to interacting with refugees in person to find out what they need and would appreciate from the community. She hopes No Lost Generation will bring the discussion to UNC students and help to quell any underlying fears — fears she said have caused many people to support the recent ban on refugees. 

“I think Martin Luther King Jr. said that people fear the unknown,” Gibson said. “And people don’t get along with people they fear. So I think the more students and Americans know about these people — who are just people, they’re not ‘Islamic terrorists’ — the more they know about them, the less they’ll fear.” 

Junior Elliot Krause said he believes America was founded on the idea of welcoming those in need, referencing the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty. He said turning away people in need is not what America is about. 

“Every refugee comes here for some reason or another and it’s because, I believe, they’re hoping for a better life here. I want them to be able to find that life," he said. "And everyone needs to recognize that, at one point or another, someone in their family line was a refugee here. And I think that it’s important that we take that into mind when we look at this situation now.”

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