More than 250 students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are flying out to an event at the United Nations in New York to continue their involvement in a global initiative to offer worldwide support to refugees.
DMU has been asked by the UN to take the lead in engaging the higher education sector worldwide to be part of the campaign, called #JoinTogether.
The initiative was launched with hundreds of DMU students attending a summit at the UN headquarters in January, and hundreds more students will fly out to New York to embark on a variety of academic trips and visits around the city, culminating with another summit at the UN headquarters on June 7.
Since the network was formed in January, the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) initiative has asked the #JoinTogether network, led by DMU, to champion all 17 Sustainable Development Goals with a specific focus on SDG 16 to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
The conference will review the progress made by universities over the last six months and encourage debate on the current challenges for safety and dignity faced by refugees in local communities.
The number of universities that have signed up to the action charter has risen from an initial nine in January to an incredible 38, the new partner universities from around the world will also be welcomed.
Universities, led by DMU, will share best practice and discuss practical ways they can use the skills, experience and voluntary power on their campuses to support those in need in their local areas.
DMU has been chosen by the UN to lead this campaign based on the work it currently does in the local Leicester community providing support to refugees and people of all backgrounds across society, and internationally with #DMUglobal.
In illustration of this, while out in New York, DMU students are volunteering at the RDJ Refugee Shelter at St Mary’s Episcopal Church, the only shelter in New York City specifically for homeless asylum seekers and refugees.
They will also support the preparations for World Refugee Day at the Catholic Charities Community Services in downtown New York.
DMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard said: “De Montfort University’s relationship with New York is an instinctive response to a city that is dynamic, ambitious, creative and yet, at the same time, never less than welcoming.
“I believe there is no #DMUglobal destination, among hundreds, that demonstrates the benefits of openness and integration as persuasively and as indelibly as this great city.
“That’s one of the reasons why we are making our second large-scale trip here in six months, and our third in eighteen months. Those who took part in unforgettable visits in 2017 and earlier in 2018 tell me that, within days of arriving in New York, they ‘felt part of it’, that New York ‘made you feel welcome’ and that they ‘absorbed so many different cultures’.
“This time, we will also share our conviction that universities can and should commit to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as we have done through banning the use of non-recyclable plastic on campus from September this year in support of SDG 14 – ‘Life Below Water’. Around 23,000 cups will be offered to all students and another 3,000 to staff as the university invests in making itself more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
“We look forward once again to experience and learn from New York and all it has to offer, to connect with its people and renew and strengthen what increasingly feels like a partnership.”
The ‘DMU and #JoinTogether’ event ay the United Nations on June 7 launch forms part of a week-long visit by DMU, which will see more than 250 students and staff participate in a packed programme of academic activities which will bring the learning on their courses to colourful life.
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There will be a total of 12 tailored itineraries for the students, giving experiences which will enrich their classroom learning and improve their chances of getting the career they want.
Business students will visit Wall Street and Bloomberg to learn about the finance industry, while Advertising and Branding students will visit Times Square to see how the biggest companies in the world grab the world’s eyes.
Forensic Science students will see inside the workings of the New York Supreme Court and Media students will have a tour of the iconic NBC studios.
Prof Shellard added: “Extraordinary academic and cultural experiences put our students into the heart of the city, into its commercial, industrial, scientific and cultural life – indeed, its very architecture. DMU in New York means inspiration and aspiration, excitement and opportunity – a world of possibilities.”
DMU has a proud history of helping less fortunate members of the community. In the last five years, DMU’s volunteering programme has grown to deliver more than 120 activities and projects and almost 6,000 students have collectively contributed more than 85,100 hours of their time.
Posted on Friday 1st June 2018