On January 14, IRAP hosted 51 law students from 21 law schools across the United States and Canada for its annual Student Summit. The Summit, hosted by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and subsequent happy hour, sponsored by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, were the first in-person convenings for IRAP’s law school chapters since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agenda covered areas of IRAP’s work and refugee law, ranging from the effects of climate change on displacement trends to equitable access to new and existing resettlement pathways. The participants attended a day packed with speakers and workshops, including a keynote address by Sarah Stillman, award-winning journalist at the New Yorker. Explaining the importance of individual stories of people experiencing displacement when talking about causes of displacement, she stated:
“[Individual stories are] so much more than what can fit into the little box that we have when we’re filling out a legal application or even a 10,000 word story. There is so much room right now to reimagine what it means to think of migration as part of the solution.”
Summit participants also heard from Faredullah Marwat, an IRAP client who was resettled to Nebraska after the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, who is now dedicating his career to assisting others who are experiencing displacement to find their bearings in a new country. When sharing the story of the urgency of his situation during the withdrawal, he emphasized:
“We worked for the U.S. government as interpreters, we were left behind for 6-7 years. I spent 3 days and 3 nights in front of Abbey Gate where the suicide attack happened.”
The students also had an opportunity to engage in a Q&A with Mr. Marwat and now return to their law schools for the new semester equipped with an in-depth understanding of the latest developments in refugee law. IRAP chapters will continue working on a variety of important projects, such as screening clinics, research and case support, and collecting client feedback, alongside IRAP’s staff and in their law school communities.