The struggles of becoming self-sustainable and gaining independence from resettling institutions are prominent ones for refugees who resettled to a host country. A multitude of obstacles such as language barriers, cultural differences, and loss of sense of purpose in life are phenomena often experienced by refugees regardless of ethnicity and nationality. These phenomena leave struggling refugees in a state of dependence on any form of guidance and support in order to achieve full assimilation. Through my work at the International Institute of Rhode Island in the refugee resettlement office, I witnessed the crucial role that this humanitarian organization plays in the resettlement system. Providing paperwork and documents, housing and initial capital is something that only an institution could afford to do equally for all of its clients. The International Institute of Rhode Island, although acting in western style, provides initial help to the refugees necessary for any kind of stabilization in a developed country such as the United States. Simultaneously to witnessing the irreproducible help offered by IIRI, I have also witnessed the effects of a system that unintentionally promotes dependence rather than independence. Providence Rhode Island, for example, is a city in which it’ refugees suffer from the resettlement system because of a lack of refugee communities to which to turn to for mutual help. These refugee communities, through alleviation of culture shock, helping with lingual barriers and promotion of cultural traditions, limit the dependence on a western institution because of the sense of self-sustainability that they promote. Because of its abundance of Burundi refugees, Providence is a city that is in dire need for a Burundi community. Interviews with Somali and Burundi refugee where taken to conclude whether a refugee community was something sought after by refugees in Providence and whether it was possible to create. My hypothesis states that because of cultural similarities between the two ethnic groups, just as Somali refugees have been successful in building refugee communities around the country, Burundi refugees also have the desire and capabilities to create a Burundi community in Providence. My hypothesis is proven correct after analyzing the answers collected from the interviews taken with refugees of both ethnic groups. A Burundi community is something that is wanted and needed in Providence and through minimal support from humanitarian institutions such as the International Institute of Rhode Island in encouraging the communication between Burundi refugees, this desire can become a reality.


Providence College











A project based on independent investigation, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies.



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