Over the past several years, Steph Link, Ho’omana Nathan Horton and Michael Amory from OSU’s Department of English have worked with the Afghan Resettlement Program within the English Language and Intercultural Center on campus.
An original mission to revive the language learning program quickly became a central hub for 72 Afghan refugees.
“Our primary responsibility, in the beginning, was English learning services,” said Amory, who served as the ELIC interim director in 2021-22. “We would help individuals become valued members of the community and develop the language needed for employment.”
Stillwater communities and OSU services pledged to help professors by giving added support, which led to a Community Engagement Award for the College of Education and Human Sciences and a new development of OSU Compassionate Afghan Resettlement and English Services.
“Not only did we have the capacity to provide resources, but we were able to centralize a lot of resources, so people knew exactly where to go to get help,” said Link, who served as the director of OSU CARES.
OSU CARES received federal funds in 2022 from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in addition to their Community Engagement Award.
OSU is now an Every Campus a Refuge campus, and due to the initial efforts of the College of Arts and Sciences professors, refugees are now able to find safety and readily available resources that they need.
Adjunct professor of Islamic Studies, Adam Soltani, is also a member that is doing work with Afghan refugees. Soltani has served as the executive director of Oklahoma Council on American-Islamic Relations for more than 10 years. This made it easy for him to answer Catholic Charities’ call when they approached the council in 2021 to welcome Afghans to Oklahoma.
“Our biggest accomplishment through our refugee support is ensuring that the new Afghan community of Oklahoma knows that our State is a safe place where their religion, culture and identity are protected,” Soltani said. “We want them to know that we welcome them holistically, and we want to learn as much about their culture and identity as we want to share ours with them.”
Soltani was recognized as one of the Top 50 Young Professionals in Oklahoma City and received the 2022 Humanitarian Award from The Interfaith Alliance Foundation of Oklahoma in addition to his work within CAIR.
“I am beginning to see the fruits of this labor in which the Okie and Afghan identities are melding together to become something beautiful, unique and something to be celebrated,” Soltani said.