Cultural Exchange with Refugees: Learning and Adjusting Together in Portland

Instructor Name: 
Susanne Steinmann
Course Description: 


This Capstone partners with a non-profit Portland Meet Portland ( in order to meet, empower and learn from adults and youth in diverse refugee communities in Portland.  The Capstone aims to strengthen cross-cultural learning, understand urban development issues and support positive pathways for refugee adjustment. Students are matched with diverse refugees and will document with text or video newcomers’ social and economic livelihoods and community maps.  In exchange, students will introduce refugees to their own social, economic and educational spaces - expanding refugees’ awareness of opportunities in the wider community.

Have you ever wonderd why Portland is so "white"? Is it true? If not, where is the diversity and why is it not more integrated into the fabric of our community?  These are the core questions that we will address in this Capstone class. We will explore how the policies and politics of valuing 'diversity' play out in urban planning and development in the City of Portland.  The course also offers students a local angle into critical global issues of our times: war, displacement of millions, economic and political instabilitiy. The partnership with local non-profit Portland Meet Portland (PMP) will provide opportunities for students to experience first hand the spirit, resilience and value of refugees in Portland. And, students will have a chance to reflect on breaking down existing we/them dualisms of refugee representations and fears on both sides - mainstream and newcomers - here and elsewhere in the world.