The University of Iowa

Refugees in the Heartland Conference Schedule

April 4-7, 2013

All events are open to the public, except those shaded in gray.

Thursday, April 4

 5:00-6:45 p.m.

Cultural Fair of Immigrant and Refugee Communities in the Midwest
Location: Old Capitol Museum, 1 Clinton Street

 7-8 p.m.

Welcome by UI Provost P. Barry Butler and Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs Downing Thomas
Keynote Address: Ambassador Kenneth Quinn--"Iowa's Moral Heritage and Leadership in Refugee Resettlement"
Location: Senate Chamber, Old Capitol Museum

Friday, April 5

All Friday events will be held in 1117 University Capitol Centre, 201 So. Clinton Street, unless otherwise noted.

 8-8:30 a.m.

Coffee and Conversation

 8:30-9:45 a.m.

Refugees and Asylees 101

  • Linda Hartke, President, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (Baltimore)
  • Deepinder Mayell, Director, Refugee and Asylum Program, Advocates for Human Rights (Minneapolis)
  • Larry Yungk, Senior Resettlement Officer, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (Washington D.C.)
  • Vinh Nguyen, English Language Learner Coordinator for Des Moines Public Schools (Des Moines)

Moderator: Barbara Schwartz, University of Iowa College of Law (Iowa City)

 9:45- 10 a.m.

Questions and Discussion

 10 -11 a.m.

Refugees in the Midwest: Who, Where, How

John Wilken, Director, Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services (Des Moines)

Mark Grey, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Iowa Center for Immigrant Leadership and Integration at the University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls) Michele Devlin, Professor of Health Education at the University of Northern Iowa, and Director of the Iowa Center on Health Disparities (Cedar Falls)

Mary George and Amy Hughes, Southern Sudan Community Association (Omaha/Lincoln)

Moderator: Amy Weismann, University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (Iowa City)

 11 - 11:15 a.m.

  11:15 - 12:00 p.m.

"Now my future begins": Stories of Resettlement and Integration in the  Midwest

Story One:  Somalis in the Twin Cities

  • Fatuma Elmi, Resettled refugee from Somalia, U.S. Refugee Congress Representative to the United Nations, Senior Refugee Employment Supervisor, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (Minneapolis)
  • Michele Garnett McKenzie, Director of Advocacy, Advocates for Human Rights (Minneapolis)

Moderator: Marcella David, University of Iowa College of Law (Iowa City)

 12 - 12:45 p.m.

Story Two: Bosnians in Waterloo/Cedar Falls and Des Moines

  • Ryan Haynes, Program Coordinator, Bosnian Cultural Foundation (Waterloo)
  • Mak Suceska, U.S. Committee on Refugees and Immigrants (Des Moines)
  • Zeljka Krvavica, Bureau of Refugee Services (Des Moines)

Moderator: Brian Farrell, University of Iowa College of Law (Iowa City)

 12:45 - 1:00 p.m.

Questions and Discussion

 1 - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch (provided)

 1:30 - 2:15 p.m.

Story Three: Ethnic Minority Burmese in Waterloo, Columbus Junction and Des Moines

  • Mu Law, Thway Paw, and Henny Ohr,  EMBARC:Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center (Des Moines)
  • Cristina Ortiz, PhD candidate, Anthropology, University of Iowa (Columbus Junction)
  • Chaplain Rick Rustad, Tyson Foods, Inc. and Burma-Iowa Friends (Waterloo)
  • Angela Graham, Black Hawk Public Health Department and Burma-Iowa Friends (Waterloo)

Moderator: Jill Tomkins, University of Iowa (Iowa City)

 2:15 - 2:30 p.m.

Questions and Discussion

 2:30 - 3:15 p.m.

The Future of Refugee and Asylee Policy: The Consequences of Comprehensive Immigration Reform for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

  • Linda Hartke, President, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (Baltimore)
  • Michele Garnett McKenzie, Director of Advocacy, Advocates for Human Rights (Minneapolis)
  • Bassel El Kasaby, Chair, American Immigration Lawyer's Association, Iowa-Nebraska Chapter (Omaha)
  • Alexis Perlmutter, Associate Director of Policy, National Immigrant Justice Center, (Chicago)

Moderator: Amy Weismann, University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (Iowa City)

 3:15 -4:00 p.m.

What You Can Do to Make Your Community a Welcoming One: Challenges, Contributions and Community Responses

  • Nicholas Wuertz, Director of Refugee Services, Lutheran Services of Iowa (Des Moines)
  • The Rev. Dr. David B. Madsen, Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church (Des Moines)
  • Abby Freese, Community Volunteer
  • Christa Yoakum, Nebraska Is Home Program Coordinator, Nebraska Appleseed (Lincoln)

Moderator: Jill Tomkins, University of Iowa (Iowa City)

 4 - 4:30 p.m.

Iowa Youth Writing Project, Emily Seiple, UI student, International Writing Program staff, (Iowa City)

  • Iowa Writing Project participants and performing their pieces about immigrant and refugee communities on both a personal and community level. The pieces also celebrate difference and diversity and provide examples of ways to welcome refugees and immigrants. Student readers include:
  • Emmanuel Mausa (Congo)
  • Grace Iradukunda (Tanzania)
  • Justine Shabani (Congo)

 4:30-5 p.m.

Conference reconvenes in Old Capitol Museum

 5-7 p.m.

WorldCanvass program featuring:

1) Larry Yungk, Linda Hartke, Deepinder Mayell

2) Alek Wek, Special Guest

3) Ann Marie Kudlacz, Alexis Perlmutter

4) Fatuma Elmi, Vinh Nguyen, Amir Hadzic and Amy Weismann

5) Larry Yungke, Michele Garnett McKenzie

6) Kao Kalia Yang

Location: Senate Chamber, Old Capitol Museum

Saturday, April 6 *(Events with an * are by invitation only. For more information, please contact Amy Weismann, UI Center for Human Rights)

  10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Children’s Activity: Music and Stories Celebrating Refugee Lives
Location: Iowa City Public Library, 123 So. Linn Street

  • Beats from the Gold Coast (West African Music)
  • Carol Spaulding-Kruse, author, Zakery's Bridge: Children's Journeys from Around the World to Iowa

A note about concurrent activities: During the morning convening, the Iowa City Public Library will host activities for families about the migration experience and refugee lives.  Families of conveners and the general public are encouraged to attend.


Summit/Convening*: Setting a Responsive Advocacy Agenda from the Midwest

S401 Pappajohn Business Building, 10 E. Jefferson Street at Clinton

Refugee leaders, faith communities, state coordinators, service providers and educators from across the Midwest will gather to discuss the experiences of refugees in the Midwest, network with one another about their common concerns and develop goals and strategies for effective advocacy on behalf of refugees in the Midwest and around the world. The “advocacy principles” that emerge from the convening will be shared at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees upcoming Refugee Congress in Washington D.C.

  8:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Opening and Welcome - Amy Weismann and Deepinder Mayell/Michele Garnett McKenzie, Fidel Nshombo, Hadidja Nyiransekuye

Presentation by Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees on the Need for Refugee Leadership in Setting Policy Agendas (Larry Yungk, Senior Resettlement Officer, UNHCR)

 9:00-9:45 a.m.

Panel: Challenges in Health and Employment

  • Abby Freese and Billie Marchik, Linguistic Access to Comprehensive Healthcare (LATCH) (Iowa)
  • Dijana Kadic, resettled Bosnian refugee, MA candidate, Art Institute of Chicago (research on underemployment of refugees) and Zoya Kolkin, Upwardly Global (Chicago)
  • Questions and Discussion
   9:45 - 10:00 a.m.   Break

 10-11:45 a.m.

Identifying the Human Rights Issues for Refugees in the Heartland and Analyzing Barriers. This session will open with a brief warm-up exercise to guide the group to consensus around the idea that "all refugees can live with dignity in the Heartland." Then the group will explore  the issues/barriers facing refugees  by using a "Problem Pyramid" model. In this session, participants will identify the immediate causes, legal and economic causes, and root causes of of these issues/barriers. (Advocates for Human Rights)

After presentation of the Pyramid, the group will divide into two separate subgroups for further discussion and refinement of  ten priority issues/barriers: 1) service providers/volunteers/organizational representatives; 2) people who have themselves been resettled as refugees in the Midwest or elsewhere. Group 1 will be facilitated by Deepinder Mayell and/or Michele Garnett McKenzie. Group 2 will be facilitated by Hadidja Nyiransekuye and Fidel Nshombo. The goal would be to identify 10 "causes" that would be the foundation of the 10 advocacy goals that can be shared at the Refugee Congress. This will build on Friday's discussion, which likely will identify things like (1) refugee resettlement open to very limited range of nationalities and limited categories of individuals within those nationalities; (2) family reunification; (3) discrimination in the U.S.; (4) barriers to integration--language access, education, job training, credentials recognition, need for LPR application; (5) expulsion of refugees--deportation for crimes; (6) asylum system problems--due process, detention, length of adjudication process, etc.

  11:45 a.m. - noon    Break

 12:00 - 12:45 p.m.

Synthesize and Discuss Action Toward Human Rights Goals. In this session, the two subgroups will reconvene, report on their narrowed list of priority issues, and synthesize the lists. The group as a whole will then identify advocacy targets (who is the responsible authority for making the change needed) and to identify what is lacking/needed for them to make that change (is there a missing obligation, lack of motivation, lack of authority for an otherwise motivated party to act, or lack of resources). (Advocates for Human Rights)

  12:45 - 1:15 p.m.

The group as a whole will identify ten goals for action as part of a declaration from the convening. (Facilitated by Fidel Nshombo, UNHCR Refugee Congress Board Member; Hadidja Nyiransekuye, UNHCR Refugee Congress Board Member)

 1:15-1:45 p.m.

Networking lunch (provided)

 2-4 p.m.











Capacity Building Breakouts, including:

  • Human Rights Methods. This workshop, facilitated by Advocates for Human Rights, will explore methods of human rights advocacy (Capacity Building and Training, Education, Monitoring and Documentation, Law and Policy Reform, Strengthening Governance Structures, Accountability and Enforcement, Networking and Mobilizing). Building on the morning sessions' concepts, participants will create an Action Plan that coincides with their organization's own goals, strengths, and capacity to address one of the identified issues from the morning.
  • Memoir Writing for aspiring or established refugee writers. Come and join Hmong-American writer Kao Kalia Yang, author of The Latehomecomer: a Hmong Family Memoir, on a quest to tell powerful stories.  If you are working with refugee groups and narratives are important to communicating the work you do, come and learn ways of empowering the voices and the words of those you work with so they can live from the page and find foundation in the world.  If you are a student and you are interested in improving your ability to listen and hear the powerful stories of those who've journeyed far for belonging, come and gain some practice in understanding.  If you are a refugee and you are looking for the words and the images to open up memory and let remembering speak, this workshop is the place for you to start.  Join Kao Kalia Yang on a journey into the worlds we have ventured from and the possibilities of language in reviving the things we have lost, the loves we have known, the making of home.

 6-7 p.m.

Joint event with Mission Creek Festival featuring Aleksandar Hemon
Location: The Mill Restaurant, 120 East Burlington

Sunday, April 7

  Noon - 3 p.m.

Seminar with Aleksandar Hemon*

2390 UCC

Aleksandar Hemon will lead a seminar and discussion for UI students. Hemon will address issues related to migration, the outsider experience, and the power of storytelling. Participation requires registration in the course, “Topics in Human Rights: Refugees in the Heartland.” Contact Kelsey Kramer with questions.