It was the luck of the draw that nursing major Jen Salit ’15 ended up in a writing class with Dr. Bryan Ripley Crandall last semester. There, they read Outcasts United by Warren St. John, a book about refugee children from many different countries finding common ground in their shared love of soccer.
It moved her enough to want to find out more about the plight of refugees (defined as those displaced from their own country because of persecution or war). So when Dr. Ripley Crandall presented her with the idea of participating in New Haven’s Run for Refugees, Salit was eager to sign up. “He knew running was my passion,” says Salit, who competed on her high school track and cross country team in Seekonk, Mass.
Dr. Ripley Crandall, director of the Connecticut Writing Project, along with fellow runner Melissa Quan, associate director for the Center for Faith and Public Life, garnered interest from a few students and were even able to persuade the University to contribute the entry fee for the group, who rode up to New Haven together in a University van.
Over 700 runners participated in the 5K race, established to support IRIS: Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services in New Haven, Conn. “There are 28,000 refugees in Connecticut alone,” explains Dr. Ripley Crandall, who has worked with the displaced before. “Next year, our goal is to have a fleet of University vans full of students, and Jen has already said she’s ready and willing to lead the group.”
For her part, Salit readily admits she’s grateful to Dr. Ripley Crandall for the support he’s provided in “opening up the world” to her. In fact, Salit was excited enough about her new interest that she emailed her high school English teacher, who is now sharing some of Salit’s stories and reading suggestions with her own class.
Says Salit, “I really credit Dr. Ripley Crandall with encouraging me to find real life connections, like the race, to make my experience in his class even better.”
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