Building on Youth Leadership to Create Change
Encouraging Peer-to-Peer Action
The Local Student Committees Project seeks to strengthen the presence of DIME in universities throughout Mexico by organizing committees led by students from higher education institutions to mobilize and raise awareness among the university and larger community about intercultural dialogue, migration movements, and the culture of peace. In addition, through their work, the committees help to ensure that the students of DIME are welcomed into an open-minded educational, social and cultural environment.
Responsive Leaders of Tomorrow
The number of young people in the world is at an all-time high, with 1.9 billion young people expected to turn 15 between 2015 and 2030 alone. Faced with numerous global challenges and security concerns, a growing number of these young people find themselves in situations of forced mobility, and many must seek opportunities to continue their education outside their home countries, with plenty of obstacles in their way. As a result, local educational institutions in host countries are increasingly becoming one of the main points of contact for young persons from diverse cultures, contexts, and with different opportunities.
When institutions of higher education provide possibilities for their students to collaboratively and meaningfully develop new narratives, acquire new knowledge, and share their own perspectives to achieve common goals, these differences can be transformed into actions that are far more inclusive, culturally sensitive, and innovative than ever before. Most importantly, they can have a positive impact not only on the lives of local or refugee students in host countries, but on entire societies, thus paving the way for future generations.
As the United Nations Youth Declaration on Transforming Education from the United Nations states,
“Young people recognize their key role as active agents of positive change in addressing these crises and ensuring true transformational change-one that is systemic, long-term, inclusive and representative.”
Educational change can thus only succeed if young people are able to be meaningfully involved and participate hand-in-hand with others, especially systematically marginalized groups, in integration and decision-making processes based on solidarity and the principle of leaving no one behind outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
DIME recognizes the potential of youth as leaders and higher education institutions as enabling spaces. The Local Student Committees project was born out of the need to respond to and harness this potential. With this project, we join the growing number of locally-rooted and globally-focused youth movements, such as the World University Services of Canada (WUSC), Every Campus a Refuge (ECAR), and many others, that are engaging local students to develop their leadership skills, create innovative solutions, and drive social progress through inclusive interactions with other cultures and forms of knowledge.
To achieve long-term, sustainable positive change for refugees, it is essential to mobilize and build the capacity of the local community to achieve greater mutual impact. DIME aims to support university students in Mexico to strengthen their leadership skills, accelerate integration, and foster welcoming movements in their communities. We seek to help new generations of active youth become future “changemakers” and develop into effective global professionals by supporting their efforts to promote local refugee integration, organize awareness-raising and intercultural events on campus, and help refugees and migrants navigate university and local life while benefiting themselves from diverse perspectives, ideas, and opportunities for participation.
The Local Student Committee currently has 8 student committees in 8 states of Mexico, which at the moment involve 78 students, with this number projected to increase.
The Welcoming Communities team at DIME supports the organization of students into local university committees and their work in the following ways:
Intercultural Mobility Week
DIME facilitates logistical and other necessary support for the annual Intercultural Mobility Week, which takes place at our partner universities through the work of Local Student Committees and aims to mobilize broader communities to promote and advocate for intercultural dialogue and social cohesion through a week-long event that includes various activities that represent and unite a diversity of cultures through the arts, sports, gastronomic fairs, and awareness-raising events.
In 2022, 6 universities in Mexico participated in the Intercultural Mobility Week with over 1,300 participants, including students, professors, NGOs, artists, activists, and local businesses.
Promotion of Youth Activism
To engage and mobilize students, we organize in-person visits to universities and promote youth engagement, activism, and leadership through university authorities. This component of the project is closely linked to the work of the Advisory Council on Forced Migration for Higher Education, which enables DIME to promote change at all levels of the higher education system in Mexico.
The Welcoming Communities team at DIME also engages and encourages those students who are already active in their local committees to include their fellow students in the activities to encourage peer-to-peer learning and knowledge sharing.
Monitoring and Support
To ensure that students who are active in their local committees successfully achieve ongoing learning and make their ideas a reality, DIME holds regular meetings to monitor and support the progress of the committees’ work through documentation and reports.
Trainings and Capacity-Building
Students participating in the local committees are able to take advantage of a range of trainings and capacity-building activities offered by DIME, typically related to forced displacement, intercultural dialogue, and other topics relevant to the areas of action and interests of the students.
Annual Working Meetings
To facilitate, monitor and support the work of the Local Student Committees as well as their collaboration with the Council for Refugees in Mexico, DIME organizes annual working meetings where young leaders can share ideas, reflect on progress made and plan together for the future in a space that promotes a culture of peace and protection for all.
Always striving to learn from and share best practices through dialogue, DIME works in collaboration with the World University Services of Canada (WUSC) to provide expert technical advice to local student committees in student-designated priority areas.
The Local Student Committees, on their part, are committed to:
- Raise awareness at university campuses in collaboration with authorities to access resources and logistical support for events.
- Engage other stakeholders in efforts to create welcoming university campuses in Mexico, such as other organizations (civic, public, academic, and others) working in the field, by inviting them to participate in a range of relevant activities.
- Support the integration process of young refugees at universities by helping them navigate the university system.
- Empower young refugees by promoting activities where they can express their identity and culture.
- Work hand-in-hand with the Refugee Council of Mexico to accurately represent the needs identified by the refugee community itself.