Global Displacement: Voix Francophones


Students in sign
In Fall 2018, students celebrated the launch of the service-learning project "Duke Hello", a website that helps refugees from a number of African countries learn English as way to begin becoming self-sufficient and adjust to American culture.

Course Overview:

This course explores the global migration and resettlement of Francophone refugees. Through historical, political, and literary perspectives, we examine the current state of refugees and asylum seekers in Western host societies, with a particular focus on Central African refugees in North America.  In the first part of this course, we examine laws, processes, and practices related to refugee resettlement. What leads people to flee their country and seek refugee status, and what are the processes they must go through as they seek asylum?

Our investigation of the causes of what has been termed “the global refugee crisis” will focus primarily on refugees whose home countries and countries of first asylum are located Central and Western Africa. Our texts include UNHCR documents, documentary film and interviews, and literary narratives. In the second half of the course, we examine the introduction and integration of these refugees in their host countries. As we review discourse and assumptions of host societies, we study the challenges of the cultural orientation process in North America. Our discussions will include an exploration of what constitutes testimony or narrative, critiques of testimony as single truth narrative, as well as ethical considerations of creating refugee narrative. Service includes volunteering with ESL classes, working with refugee families directly to support their acquisition of language and culture, and developing activities designed to help integrate refugees into US culture - and more specifically, local culture in Durham.

“This course has changed my views to see how nuanced language barriers can be,” says Nefer Batsuli, a junior. “I hadn’t considered how some situations we often consider as common sense would become ten times harder with a language barrier.” 

To learn more about previous service-learning projects in this course, read DGHI's article "Students in Global Displacement Class Create Video Resources for Refugees" to learn about a service-learning project from Fall 2018, or visit DukeHELLO, a multimedia resource site that aims to bridge the language gap for refugee families living in Durham.

VIDEO: In this video, Madeline Thornton, a past student from the course, encourages language students in particular to take this service-learning course.

“I would encourage any student to take a service-learning course, but especially language students because this is a way to really get out there and use your language skills in the real world and not just in a classroom. In this course I was actually exposed to a new type of French, it’s not Parisian French. I’m actually learning how French is spoken in central Africa and other regions of the world. And I think that’s valuable because you’re really able to take your French skills to the next level and being able to communicate with French speaking people from all around the world and not just from Paris.” -Madeline Thorton, Duke 2018, Global Health/French Major

Explores migration and resettlement of Francophone refugees in North America through examination of current policy, law, and practice. Analysis of personal interviews and narratives with attention to ethical questions related to politics of listening to and speaking for other communities. Community-based language component (20 hours) engages students with refugee community in Durham. Conducted in French. Recommended prerequisite: one course at 300-level or equivalent.



Curriculum Codes
  • CCI
  • EI
  • FL
  • CZ
  • SS
Cross-Listed As
  • GLHLTH 325S
  • ICS 332S
  • PUBPOL 316S
  • RIGHTS 325S
Typically Offered