Global Education and Engagement



The World Affairs Council, in partnership with Three Chairs for Refugees and the Kent School District, organized a leadership program for refugee teens attending public school in Kent, Washington. The “GLEE” project aims to help refugee youth socially adjust and to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and social-cultural capacities to act as emerging leaders in our increasingly global society.ByaombeJeannelieatComputer

The GLEE project focuses on four main principles: knowledge, perspective, voice, and action. Students begin by learning about human rights and examining causes of refugee crises in terms of human rights violations. Students also learn about refugees around the world, including an overview of key statistics as well as similarities and differences in the refugee experience for individuals from different countries or circumstances.

Through group activGroupPosterities and role-playing exercises, students are able to better understand their own perspectives as well as the views of others. With these new perspectives in mind, students are then given the opportunity to tell a personal story about their lived experience in a digital format that combines voice, images, and audio (a “digital story”). Students gain technology skills, including photo and video editing, while also practicing communication skills (writing and speaking) as well as important work habits (planning, time allocation, collaboration). The storytelling process requires students to not only reflect on their personal experience, but to choose a specific moment in their life that is especially meaningful.  Each student’s unique voice is nurtured through this process and is reflected in the resulting digital story.

The purpose of the knowledge building, perspective gaining, and digital media producing components of the GLEE project is to equip refugee youth to become effective leaders, building social bridges between themselves and the broader community, with the intent to advocate on behalf of the world’s refugees.GroupWorksonPoster

Ultimately, the GLEE project seeks to empower refugee youth to translate their knowledge, social-cultural skills, and personal stories of migration into civic action that will improve conditions for refugees. For example, the 2013 GLEE students presented their digital stories at a student leadership conference at UW-Bothell and answered questions from the session participants in order to raise awareness about refugee issues and the experiences of refugees resettling in the Puget Sound area. One student also participated in an interview through StoryCorps, whose mission is to share and preserve the stories of people from all backgrounds.

Students from the GLEE project met with students from the 2013 Global Youth Leadership Initiative in June 2013. Students from the two groups began to gHakimah_1et to know one another through exercises on identity and perspective led by a representative of Face to Faith. Together they then explored the work of the Gates Foundation through hands-on activities and a guided tour at the Gates Foundation Visitor Center. Future activities will allow GLEE students to continue to forge connections and share their perspectives within our Puget Sound area community.

Students participating in the GLEE project shared and discussed their digital stories in a live videoconference including young people in Doha, Portland, and Tucson.  GLEE participants were invited to share their work in a unique online forum called YALLAH (Youth Allied to Learn, Lead, and Help), developed by QFI (Qatar Foundation International). photo 4

Prior to the videoconference, all participants reviewed three digital stories (multimedia pieces crafted by the refugee students) along with a discussion guide and background information.  During the videoconference, college student moderators facilitated a conversation that revealed genuine, caring respect, and mutual concern about the challenges faced by refugees around the world.  The GLEE students answered questions about their experiences as refugees, shared their hopes for the future, and heard how some of the students in Doha are currently planning projects to assist Syrian refugees.

The second GLEE cohort met bi-weekly from January to May 2014. Seven students completed digital stories about their lived experience as a refugee and presented these stories to friends, family, and school administrators at a special screening at the end of May.

If you have questions about the GLEE program, please contact Amy Lutterloh, Global Classroom Program Assistant, at

*This program is not active at this time