Northwestern undergrads to report from refugee camps in Jordan, Malawi and Namibia

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Evanston, IL – On Dec. 13, a live feed will connect members of Chicago’s refugee community with some of the 19 Northwestern University student reporters and three professors reporting from refugee camps in Jordan, Malawi and Namibia beginning Dec. 11.

Clemantine Wamariya, who as a 6-year-old hid in a tree with her sister as their grandparents were murdered in their Rwandan home, will be among the group visiting Malawi, where she once lived as a refugee.

A website featuring stories, short documentaries, audio vignettes and refugee portraits officially launches at a Dec. 13 reception at Northwestern that is being hosted by RefugeeOne, a Chicago refugee agency. As part of the live feed, the Northwestern student team in Jordan’s Osire refugee camp will report on their work and take questions from resettled refugees and their advocates in Chicago.

The RefugeeOne reception will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. The live feed with students and faculty in Jordan will begin at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

For four days (Dec. 11 through 14) the Medill School of Journalism reporting teams will document daily life in the camps through audio, video and print reports on a website at

Wamariya, who spoke to the students as part of a class on reporting about refugees, will be returning to the Dzaleka camp for the first time since she was a refugee there. She will serve as a resource to the Malawi team.

“Our students in Malawi will be the first journalists since 2007 to report out of the Dzaleka refugee camp,” says Medill Professor Jack Doppelt. He teaches the reporting class called “Connecting with Immigrant and Multi-Ethnic Communities.”

Doppelt will lead the Namibia team that will focus on the lives of Angolan and Congolese refugees in the Osire camp.

Peter Slevin, a veteran international reporter for the Washington Post, will lead the Jordan team, which will focus on the lives of Iraqis in an urban refugee setting.

Brent Huffman, an award-winning film director and cinematographer, will accompany the Malawi team, focusing on the lives of Congolese, Rwandan, Burundi and Somali refugees in Dzaleka camp. He and the Malawi student team also will document Rwandan refugee Wamariya’s return to the camp.

“There are nearly 14 million refugees in the world today,” says Doppelt. “Our plan is to depict to the world how refugees live and to establish a connection between resettled refugees in Chicago and refugees in the camps.”

Each of the students’ four reporting days will focus on a different aspect of refugee camp daily life. On Dec. 11, the students will report how children in refugee camps go about learning. On Dec. 12, they will explore health issues. On Dec. 13, they will talk with refugees about the difficulties of providing for their families. On Dec. 14, they will document what refugees discuss among themselves. The teams will remain in the area for one to two days after Dec. 14 to edit and transmit their work.

The 19 undergraduates reporting from the camps recently completed Doppelt’s “Connecting with Immigrant and Multi-Ethnic Communities” class, in which they learned about the international refugee situation, profiled local resettled refugees and partnered with 14 of Chicago’s ethnic media for a series called “Back to the Homeland.”

The trips to the camps are the result of an unusual collaboration of Northwestern and UNHCR (commonly known as the UN Refugee Agency) with AT&T and RIM Company generously providing equipment and technical support. They also celebrate the 60th anniversary of UNHCR, which is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.

Reports created by students in the Medill class and coming from the three camps will be available on RefugeesLives at and on Immigrant Connect at The students’ work also will be made available to the UN Refugee Agency for its website.

For further information about the Dec. 13 reception, contact Joan Leech at RefugeeOne, e-mail:, tel: (773) 423-9830 or Lois Shuford at Medill, e-mail:, tel: (847) 404-3577.


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