Executive Dean Professor Gail Crossley graduated a total of thirty-seven refugee and migrant Burmese students on August 4 in Mae Sot and August 7 in Ranong where the Diploma in Liberal Studies program is jointly organised by the Marist Fathers.
The program consists of eight units, whereby four are offered by ACU and one unit each is offered by partner universities, Gonzaga, Regis and Fairfield Universities in the USA and York University of Toronto, Canada.
In her address, Professor Crossley said, “This program is witness to the need for university education for refugees and migrants to be a right, not a privilege. As more refugees stay for longer and longer periods in camps, the need to go beyond school education becomes urgent. We need to educate the community leaders, the teachers, the nurses and the social workers of the future. This benefits not only the refugee community but the host community as such leaders contribute to a peaceful and productive life for everyone…..Ideally, there would be no refugees in our world but, as long as there are, they have the same right as the rest of society to university education”.
The graduations were followed by entertainment provided by young Burmese. In Mae Sot, students from the Minmahaw School, a partner of ACU, came forward in pairs saying that one was a Karen, the other a Mon but they would be dancing a Chin dance, emphasising the need for all the ethnicities of Burma, the most ethnically diverse country in South-east Asia, to join together for peace and unity. For the graduates, their beaming faces say it all.