Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Preferred Name - First Author

Hannah C. Pellegrino

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Honors Interdisclipinary

Advisor(s)

Dr. Debbie Sturm

Dr. William Evans

Dr. Aaron Noland

Abstract

As host communities experience shifting demographics and influxes of migrating populations, individuals who work, volunteer, and advocate to serve these populations become increasingly necessary. These individuals have the opportunity to interact with newcomers in unique and meaningful ways. Using a qualitative methodology, this study examined the interview responses of volunteers, aid workers, and advocates who dedicate their time to serve and aid the refugee population. Specifically, this study explored their view of advocacy and service; who or what inspired to pursue this work, what personal characteristics have inspired their work as advocates, and what stories and experiences have inspired them in this world. Trends relating to empathy, purpose in life, and motivation to serve were of particular interest. In addition to these predetermined trends, emerging patterns and themes in their stories were identified. Interviewing these individuals, in Valletta, Malta and Harrisonburg, Virginia, revealed a beautiful thread of the rich narrative of human connection. The personal stories of inspiration told by the volunteers, aid workers, and advocates reflected the importance of empathy, motivation to serve, and purpose in life in the experiences of those impacted by and addressing the refugee crisis in Malta and the United States.

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