In the Fall of 2017, Fulbright Specialist Victoria Kelberer-McKee worked on a migration-focused project with the Académie de recherche et d’enseignement supérieur (ARES). The project focused on the development and reinforcement of the capacity of Belgian Higher Education Institutions to respond effectively and sustainably to the needs of refugee students, researchers and scholars. In this post she answers questions about her project activities and its results.
Q: What specific project activities did you complete during your grant?
A: I completed 15 project meetings, including with migration organizations, private sector, government, universities, university colleges, and art schools. During these meetings, I engaged in interactive workshops, class or group presentations/lectures, and information exchanges with a variety of actors. As a result, we held a final project workshop with stakeholders on 20 October, and I will be writing a project report with ARES in the coming weeks.
Q: What do you believe were the most important outcomes of your project (i.e. what results did you achieve)?
A: I think the most important result was the ability to share ideas and information with higher education stakeholders who wish to create their own initiatives for refugees and migrants. Most institutions had implemented small-scale projects but were unsure of how to make them permanent and sustainable, incorporate them into strategic plans, and involve other actors in the projects. By presenting ideas and examples tailored to each institution in our meetings, we were able to move institutions to the next step in their strategic planning. The report will also be a valuable resource for institutions not just in Belgium, but throughout Europe and the US to draw upon as they create refugee/migration-focused initiatives.
Q: Do you intend to continue to collaborate with your host institution in the future?
A: Yes. Absolutely. After we finalize the project report, we have discussed co-authoring a scientific article on refugee integration in the US and Belgium with ARES and my colleagues at Boston University. We are also considering applying together for an EU Erasmus + grant to formalize our partnership.
Q: Do you intend to establish a linkage (formal or informal) between your U.S. institution/employer and your host institution abroad?
A: Yes, we are exploring the opportunity to co-apply for grants to build off of this project and my institution’s current project with the EU Erasmus + program.