Abdo, Diya

  • Diya Abdo
  • English Department, Guilford College
  • Abstract Title: Every Campus A Refuge: Reimagining the University in a Time of Crisis

Abstract: Inspired by Pope Francis’ call on every European parish to host one refugee family, Every Campus a Refuge (ECAR) advocates for mobilizing campus resources to temporarily house refugees on campus grounds and assist them in resettlement in the local area. Thus far, Guilford College, where the initiative first began, has hosted and assisted in resettling 42 refugees (23 of them children) from the Middle East and Africa. Under this program, each refugee family is temporarily housed (for an average of 5 months) in available campus houses or apartments and is provided with free rent, utilities, Wi-Fi, use of college facilities and resources, as well as a large community of support in the form of the college campus and its friends. The daily work of hosting and assisting in resettlement is done by trained college and community volunteers. The initiative has been adopted by several other colleges and universities nationwide that have collectively hosted over 80 refugees. At Guilford College, a refugee studies minor anchored by ECAR piloted in 2017. The minor curricularizes the educational and experiential components of the initiative and draws students and faculty into the interdisciplinary exploration of forced migration and refugee resettlement while supporting the work of ECAR.


Bio: Diya Abdo is Associate Professor of English at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. Her teaching, research and scholarship focus on Arab women writers and Arab and Islamic feminisms. She has also published poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction; her public essays focus on the intersection of gender, political identity, and vocation. A first-generation Palestinian born and raised in Jordan, she is the founder and director of Every Campus a Refuge (ECAR), an initiative which advocates for housing refugees on campus grounds and assisting them in resettlement. Guilford College, now one of several ECAR campuses, has hosted 42 refugees so far – 23 of them children – from Syria, Iraq, Uganda, and the DRC. For her work on ECAR, Dr. Abdo was named a finalist in the Arab Hope Makers Award (2018) and has received service learning and civic engagement in higher education awards. She has been making presentations about ECAR far and wide, including at the United Nations.