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About Other Programs

Graduate Research Opportunity

We are seeking proposals from graduate students in any field for projects that make use of the Religion & Forced Migration Initiative’s oral history archive and find creative and compelling ways to share the archive’s stories to enhance public understanding about refugees' experiences. The project could be a traditional journal article, but it could also be a piece of popular journalism, a podcast, educational curriculum, a collection of poems, a short story, a children’s book, an animation, a graphic novel, a museum exhibition, or another project that will use these stories to amplify refugees’ voices. Ten to twelve students will be selected and receive $1,000 for their participation. These students will have the opportunity to be trained in oral history methods and are encouraged to conduct at least one interview with a resettled refugee in the US to contribute to the archive and use in their projects. We will meet virtually as a cohort to share updates in November and February and to share final projects in April. All projects will be featured on our website as examples of how scholars, artists, educators, and refugees themselves might activate the archive. We hope this offers an opportunity for graduate students to develop and demonstrate their skills in engaged scholarship.

We will hold two sessions for applicants to ask questions, share project ideas, and meet us. If you would like to join a session, please sign up here.

Please apply here! Applications are due September 15, 2022.

Individuals conversing with each other in a large room at the Religion and Resettlement Symposium
Student Internships

Since 2018, we’ve funded around ten undergraduate students to intern at organizations that support refugees across the country for eight weeks over the summer as part of ORL’s Faith-Based Internships. Students participate in an oral history training and weekly group calls to reflect on the process of working at their organization and conducting interviews. These internships serve as a key way to develop partnerships with the headquarters of Volags such as USCCB, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and Church World Service as well as local resettlement sites such as Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, Kentucky Refugee Ministry, and Hearts & Homes for Refugees. We intend to build a cohort of campus leaders and future professionals as the students enhance their understanding of the relationship between academic work and service, hone their vocational and professional development, and respond to the world around them while reflecting with peers and mentors.


For more information, check out this article.

Jack Shigeta with the Trenton Youth Orchestra playing at the Annual Pumpkin Gathering
Fort Dix Gathering

Thirty students and University staff met with dozens of Afghan refugees at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in January 2022 to answer questions about life in the US and learn about their lives in Afghanistan and hopes in the US. SPIA's Dean Amaney Jamal moderated a panel with three young Afghans who discussed their educational and professional backgrounds and goals.


For more information, check out this article.

A student interacts with two refugees at Fort Dix
Training with Refugees

In December 2019, we convened 12 resettled refugees living in New Jersey for a day-long oral history convention beginning with a three-hour oral history training followed by sessions in which they interviewed one another and concluding with a full-group reflection. The interactive training included the purpose and ethics of oral history, the process of preparing for and conducting an interview, and the connection between deep listening and chaplaincy. Because the oral history fellows represented religious and geographic diversity, these interviews inherently promoted interfaith and intercultural dialogue. This was funded by Princeton University’s Humanities Council for the 2019 Being Human Festival.


For more information, check out this article.

A refugee speaks to students at Fort Dix
Annual Pumpkin Carving

Each fall since 2016, we’ve brought 50-100 refugee youth and their families who resettled in New Jersey to campus with the support of undergraduate students, faculty, and staff. Co-sponsored by the Sophomore class and Lewis Center for the Arts, we invite refugees supported by Catholic Charities in Camden, Interfaith Rise in Highland Park, Welcome Home in Jersey City, and the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund in Trenton to carve and paint pumpkins as well and take a campus tour.

For more information, check out this article.

An adult and a kid happily carving a pumpkin together
World Refugee Day Interfaith Prayer Services

For World Refugee Day on June 20, 2021, we helped coordinate interfaith prayer services across the US to pray with and for refugees. Prayers were offered by refugees and others from a diversity of religious communities. Each service was conducted by local network, coalition, or resettlement sites and will be customized for their communities. With these services, we intended to pray publicly for the wellbeing of refugees in our country, across religious and political lines. The act of organizing the service will also bring communities together and create dialogue. We prepared a 90-minute lesson plan with basic information about who refugees are, first-person excerpts from our oral history project, and an overview of religious communities’ critical involvement in US refugee resettlement.

For more information, check out this article.

A group of happy kids in front of Princeton's campus center
Asylum Project

The Princeton Asylum Project matches scholars with asylum cases in need of expert witnesses through a unique partnership between Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York (CCCS) and a student group based in ORL. The project is an opportunity for scholars to apply their expertise to serve practical needs and for the student research team to fulfill their vocational interests in service.


While the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel for criminal defendants, there is no corresponding constitutional right to counsel for defendants in civil proceedings, and asylum proceedings are under civil law. The asylum applicants themselves bear the burden to prove that they meet the legal definition of a refugee. To respond to this need, Asylum Project student researchers in the Asylum Project work with academic experts provide more detailed country and area-specific information relating to each case to ensure that the judge or asylum officer understands the extent of the applicant’s trauma and the individual impact of the applicant’s conditions. Our experts’ local expertise is necessary to demonstrate that an actual threat of the sort contemplated by asylum law exists for a particular applicant.

The Princeton Asylum project emerged from a conversation between CCCS and the leaders of the Religion and Forced Migration Initiative, recognizing the possibility of a partnership in which the expertise of scholars could genuinely help meet the needs of those seeking asylum.


Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York provides free legal services to indigent New York residents, including non-citizens applying for asylum affirmatively or defensively.

Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life works on the issue of forced migration as a singular crisis of our time and involves students in service opportunities that provide reflective and vocational training and experience.

The Student Research Team works to identify US-based scholars whose topic and country-specific research make them ideal experts for particular asylum cases. So far, these countries have included El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ecuador, Colombia, Haiti, Angola, and Cameroon. Scholars who research topics such as ethnic discrimination, systemic intimate partner violence, gender-based violence, child forced labor, political corruption, gang violence, and the availability of mental health resources, are in particular demand.

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