State Department assistant secretary to speak on Friday

Samantha Wright

 Assistant Secretary of State Anne C. Richard, the head of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, is coming to WKU on Friday, Oct. 23, to give a talk entitled “Educating Syrian Refugee Children in a Time of War” as part of the Diplomacy on the Hill series.

According to her State Department profile, Richard has been the assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration since April 2012. Before that, Richard was the vice president of government relations and advocacy for the International Rescue Committee. The committee is an international aid organization that helps refugees and other victims of conflict.

Richard is visiting a number of cities around the country to speak about this issue. Richard will also be visiting Louisville the day before she arrives in Bowling Green.

Michael McClellan, the diplomat in residence at WKU, said this event highlights the initiatives the U.S. government is undertaking to help Syrian refugees, particularly children, which is a relevant and important issue.

“That’s important for a number of reasons, one of which is just to help the kids get back to having a normal life again,” McClellan said. “These children have been traumatized enough by the war and being displaced from their homes and villages and through the violence that they’ve seen.”

McClellan added that educating the Syrian refugee children not only helps their education stay on track but also aids the children’s families.

“Just getting them back into school can be a huge help to them, not only for being able to keep their education on track but also for them psychologically,” McClellan said. “That, in turn, helps their families. When you’re helping the children with their education, you are helping the entire family as well, and that’s very important to these kids right now.”

McClellan encouraged students to attend the event to see what the government is doing to help and to find out what they can do.

“Here’s our chance to learn what we’re doing about it — that we are doing something to help these kids, but maybe there’s more we can do,” McClellan said. “People may be inspired to write to their congressmen to look for a volunteer opportunity next summer instead of going on something else they may have been thinking about, or to come up with a fundraising project for their school organization or sorority or fraternity.”

Sam Evans, the dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, which is co-sponsoring the event, said this talk is important for several reasons. One is that students who are becoming educators should know about issues like these.

“[For] those who could conceivably be preparing to be educators in our schools, the more they know about the potential students they might have in their classroom, the better-prepared they’re going to be for the profession that they’ve chosen,” McClellan said.

McClellan said the talk is also important in a global sense.

“If I take this to the larger perspective, we are all citizens of a global community, a global world, and what happens in one part of the world will impact us directly or indirectly, in the short-term or the long-term,” McClellan said. “Therefore, the more we know about what is occurring in various regions of the world, the better we can prepare ourselves for our involvement in what becomes global issues.”

Diplomacy on the Hill, a series, began in the spring of last year. Once per semester, the series brings university and faculty experts, students and others together on a panel to discuss an important current event from different viewpoints.

Richard will be holding a roundtable in Downing Student Union, room 2001, at 11:00 a.m. for students interested in careers in humanitarian work and non-governmental organizations. It will be hosted by Career Services

Richard will present her speech at 1:00 p.m. in Ransdell Hall, room 1074, with a question-and-answer session following the speech. This event is free and open to the public and is a swipeable event for WKU students.