Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


International Studies

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Studies

First Advisor

John Zarobell


This thesis engages with refugee resettlement by exploring individual refugee stories of successes and struggles. It primarily includes empirical evidence from refugees seeking safety in the U.S. and in France (who emigrated from Ukraine, Afghanistan, North Korea, El Salvador, and Cambodia, respectively). By interviewing refugees and analyzing refugee input, nuanced findings relating to the resettlement experience are presented. These findings point to the complicated nature of fulfilling seemingly basic needs, such as housing, food, and funding. Furthermore, the research found two notable examples of refugee leadership in organizations and enterprises. A pattern in this thesis of refugee empowerment calls for the restructuring of literature about refugees. It tries to prove the importance and value of direct refugee input on any academic literature that writes authoritatively about refugees. With an aim to serve those with a call to stand in solidarity with refugees, the findings also highlight examples of roles that non-expert, entry-level actors have played to foster meaningful advancements in the resettlement process. Perhaps most importantly, this thesis dives into topics relating to mental health in resettling refugee populations. The findings show that trauma plays a significant role in hindering resettlement, and that the current healthcare system meant to aid refugees actually has institutional failures that can go so far as perpetuating poverty for resettling refugees. Group healing and community resource groups are found to be alternate resources to combat trauma and aid the internal—and often overlooked—process of restarting life as a refugee in a host-state.


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