Project Mosaic Grant
Project Mosaic invites opportunities and provides spaces for students’ involvement in fostering relationships and seeking sustainable and collaborative partnership with migrant and refugee communities in Bradley County, Tennessee, its adjacent counties, and the border towns of El Paso and Douglas, Arizona. It also seeks to develop a climate of inclusion and belonging in our area. Propelled by the commitment to the University’s core values of redemptive service, global citizenship, and ethical action, Project Mosaic hopes to improve community partnerships through intercultural and interfaith dialogues, collaboration, and cooperation. This initiative originated from the institution’s collective biblical commitment to address the challenges of social injustices while promoting the values of hospitality, benevolence, advocacy and missional communities.
Key stakeholders were identified from our community and collaborated on events that took place at the University. The Office of Race and Ethnic Relations and several sectors of Lee University spearheaded the endeavor of making connections happen through student mobilization and partnership with leaders of various community groups. These stakeholders were also responsible for event planning, training students in contacting partners, cultural brokering, organizing, and promoting the campus-wide events.
Fiesta en la Iglesia
Lee University Department of Language and Literature, Spanish Program hosted a family day each semester (Fall 2021 and Spring 2022) for Hispanic community members through a partnership with the local Catholic Church, St. Therese of Lisieux.
Food Fair at Schimmels Park at Lee University
This activity hosted several mobile and established ethnically owned food businesses on campus and introduced Lee University students to cultural artefacts of different migrant and refugee groups by highlighting their cuisines, drinks (non-alcoholic), culinary innovation, and other material culture. This exposure enhanced reciprocity for student cultural learning and expanded the ethnic businesses’ market to our students.
Lee University Refugee Film Festival
This campus-wide activity hosted a three-day film festival with documentaries relating to the experiences of migrants and refugees.
Panel on Refugee and Migrant Experience
This activity highlighted current and former Lee University students, along with community members seeking refugee status in the United States. Several panelists from Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Kurdistan, Iraq, countries from central America, Mexico, and Iran were invited to share their challenges and journey with the student body.
Welcoming Our Neighbors
This activity provided intercultural and interfaith interaction between students and migrant communities from the Middle East and Central America through collaboration with the Islamic Center of Greater Chattanooga, clienteles of Bridge Refugee Center, and Baptiste Group, an organization subcontracted by the U.S. Department of Human Services (DHS) to care for undocumented children living in our region.
Art Activity on Migration and Refugees
This activity involved students, faculty, and community members in an art project (mural) that will focused on migrant and refugee experiences. This event was also in collaboration with Lee’s art program professors, students, and local migrant and refugee artists.
To culminate our goals for increased, multi-faceted and long-term bridge building, we created opportunities that can be sustainable and can be replicated beyond the duration of grant. We will promote community activities as engaged partners in planning and organizing, promoting, and fostering shared visions in creating a greater sense of belonging, inclusion, and doing life together.
Camino al Corazon
To achieve the inclusion of migrant and refugee communities, power should be equal. One of Lee’s institutional philosophies in benevolence is to seek ways individuals can be part of the larger plan for others to be independent, live with dignity, and reach self-actualization. This event was a collaborative activity that we hope to replicate every semester. By tapping on our migrant community partners, we collaborated in putting together a fundraising run that benefited the migrant communities.
ESL Language Classes
The Lee University Center for English Language Literacy have been offering free English classes to migrants and other non-English speaking individuals from 17 countries and six languages. Every semester, the center serves 100-150 clienteles twice a week.
This established program is a student-led activity under the sponsorship of the Leonard Center. Students develop a mentor-mentee relationship with Hispanic children and their families in their neighborhood or community’s “backyard.” Students visit Hispanic community enclaves, serve, and participate in learning activities with Hispanic children and families every semester.
Create a website to document student and migrant/refugees' testimonials about their encounters and stories
This activity creates a repository of migrant/refugee stories and student interaction that will be permanently housed on our Office of Race and Ethnic Relations Office website. This documentation of our encounters provides a learning tool for students across campus about the importance of belonging and inclusion, and the significance of learning other cultures and faiths.