Cultivating Community: The role of the Winooski school system in creating positive relationships between city institutions and the refugee population

Publication Year:
2017
Usage 137
Downloads 102
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Repository URL:
https://scholarworks.uvm.edu/hcoltheses/151
Author(s):
Hurwitz, Rachel M
Tags:
Winooski; social networks; multiplexity; refugee; school
thesis / dissertation description
Schools serve as key institutions for absorbing newcomers into American society, as they provide resources, programming, and access points into a community for immigrant children and their families. In Winooski, Vermont, the public school building serves as a center for support and engagement for the refugee population, offering a variety of services to children and their parents. As demographics shift to include more foreign-born students, schools need to rethink classroom strategies and ways of engaging with families that best navigate cultural divides. My findings suggest that Winooski can be viewed as a model city for bridging the cultural divides inherent in refugee resettlement: various community institutions, in collaboration with the school system, provide services and support for refugee families, and the school serves as a center for support and community engagement. These processes can be examined through the social network concept of multiplexity. Put simply, community members know and trust each other in several different roles, increasing the capacity of the community to support one another and generate trust. At the center of this social network are the multicultural liaisons, who play a critical role in supporting refugees in communities, and enhance this network of trust. The research presented here highlights the unique processes in place that make Winooski a successful site for refugee resettlement, and recognizes the work of those in the community that dedicate themselves to increasing the level of acceptance and cultural understanding throughout the district and the community as a whole.