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ISU students present on April 25 about their work with Syrian and Afghanistan refugees in Macedonia

April 25, 2016

ISU Master of Public Health student Hayli Worthington and Master of Business Administration student Andrea Vicic took a trip to Macedonia to work with a Christian aid group called Agape to provide food and assistance to the stream of refugees from Syria and Afghanistan.

They will share the experiences they had during their two-week trip in February to their departments and the public on April 25 from 12:15-1:15 p.m. in the Business Administration Building, Room 403.

 “I think you will be moved by hearing from these two young women, who cared enough to break away from the comforts of home to go and help with a crisis that is an ocean away,” said Alexander Bolinger, ISU College of Business assistant professor.

Worthington used the trip to collect data for her master's thesis and Vicic has used the experience as the basis for a semester-long independent study that involved writing a series of eight reflection papers.

“700 people were stuck in a camp that was only meant for people to stay at for a few days, most were there for many weeks,” Worthington said. “The living conditions were ok, but they only had two doctors and we all slept in overcrowded tents and some were sleeping on the floor and benches.”

Together, the students have been trying to systematically make sense of the organizational and political failures underlying this massive humanitarian crisis and how concepts from their coursework might illuminate potential opportunities for improvement.

“This is a really complex problem that goes way deeper than not having enough resources for a crowd of people, there’s communication issues between governments,” Worthington said. “We need more creative minds working on a solution.”

Vicic and Worthington will share about their experiences, complete with photos and will describe their joint research that emerged from this trip, which just won top honors at ISU's Graduate Research Symposium earlier this month.

“They have been thinking a lot about how non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments, corporations, small businesses and even private citizens might work together to make a difference in easing seemingly intractable, multi-national problems that resonate globally and locally,” Bolinger said.

Worthington described a trip experience when she was passing out bananas to a crowd and half way through it 200 more people from Croatia came into the camp all wanting something to eat. The people only spoke Farsi and there were no translators.

“That was a strange moment, it was a pretty terrible feeling not being able to communicate the compassion that you have toward someone else,” Worthington said. “Why is it that I am in this situation determining who gets what resources?”

The presentation will be no-host, but participants are welcome to bring their own lunch.

For more information contact Alexander Bolinger at boliale2@isu.edu.