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NSC Hosts Know Your Rights Groups

NSC News 
As we introduced the facilitators and played icebreaker games, we found that many had been involved in activism work back in their home country and participants shared about their experiences here in the U.S. with other group members.

In January of this year, we launched our Know Your Rights group with refugees, asylees, immigrants, and asylum-seekers here at NSC. This human rights group is catered to refugee and asylum-seeking communities and is currently the first of its kind in the Greater Philadelphia region. Given our current geopolitical climate, Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience (PPR) in partnership with the Penn Law Immigrant Rights Project (PLIRP) launched an educational group with dignity and compassion around empowerment and rights-based work for communities affected by torture, violence, trafficking, and/or war. 

The focus was not on the group members’ feelings or behavior, but on their acquisition of new knowledge and how to effectively make use of the information at both an individual and/or community level. This group also includes aspects of community organizing for another objective is to promote community change whereby community members can share their common concerns and explore impediments to and strategies for change. By coming together in a group, the group can develop a shared sense of responsibility, hope, empowerment and brainstorm ideas that they would not have come up on their own -- utilizing one another’s strengths. Furthermore, this group model values the belief that learning begins with the experience of the learners.

Our first group was with French and Spanish-speakers. As we introduced the facilitators and played icebreaker games, we found that many had been involved in activism work back in their home country and participants shared about their experiences here in the U.S. with other group members.  Out of the eight categories covered in our curriculum, three main topics were selected by the group participants, specifically, Women’s Rights, Deportation/ICE rights, and Mock trial. Based on these three topics, we had a total of six in-person group sessions where we discussed with participants what common patterns they were seeing, enacted interactive role-playing activities, reviewed case studies, learned how to file protective orders and write letters to various stakeholders -- and understand Pennsylvania laws via one-page guides that were created and disseminated to participants.

Groups continue to be underway and are planned for next year with Arabic and English speakers. The long-term goal is to have participants be empowered to share this knowledge with their communities and have them lead these groups in the future. If you would like more information about this program, please contact Cathy Jeong at cjeong@nscphila.org

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