The Trinity Refugee Awareness Campaign (TRAC) team, clockwise from top left: Carlos Alvaro, Rachael Penarroyo, Johanna Alderliesten, Andrea Rodriguez, Emilio Rodriguez, Jordan Koslowsky, Connor Green and Aki Imasato.

A group of students at Trinity Western University (TWU) is bridging the gap between life in refugee camps and life on campus.

Last summer, Jordan Koslowsky, a second-year International Studies student, came face to face with the realities of the refugee crisis on a trip to Israel.

“After a steep climb in the Middle Eastern heat, I stood on top of Mount Hermon,” he recounts. “Where I stood at that moment, gazing into Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, was nothing short of surreal. What I did not comprehend at that point was the lasting effect this experience would have on my life.”

He returned home with a passion for the people he met on his trip, particularly those in the Aida Refugee Camp, and a desire to do something about the realities they face each day. His dream? To sponsor a refugee family to come to Canada.

It’s so easy to highlight all the bad things that are happening in the world, but we want to stir hope in people, we want to remind them that they have the capacity to do something.” - Jordan Koslowsky

Fast forward to September, when Jordan began to share this dream, albeit tentatively, with those around him. “I almost fell out of my chair,” he says, when his professor Paul Rowe, Coordinator of Political and International Studies at TWU, affirmed that sponsoring a family was an attainable goal.

From there, Jordan reached out to friends, classmates, dorm mates, and members of TWU’s Social Justice Club to form a group that could bring this dream to life. Johanna Alderliesten is a second-year Nursing student who has been working with newcomers to Canada through Settlement360. Carlos Alvaro, a second-year Media and Communications student, was eager to get behind Jordan’s vision. Connor Green is a third-year Human Kinetics student who wanted to do something tangible about the devastating headlines he saw. Aki Imasato, a third-year Business student, wanted to welcome others the way he had been welcomed from Japan. Fourth-year Rachael Penarroyo and second-year Andrea Rodriguez and Emilio Rodriguez International Studies students are active in TWU’s Social Justice Club and were looking to invest in a passion project.

Together, these eight individuals form TRAC, the Trinity Refugee Awareness Campaign. Their goal is to raise $34,000 to sponsor a family of six through MCC.

“We want to be ambitious, we want to challenge people,” Jordan says. Through this, TRAC also intends to raise awareness about the global refugee crisis on campus, as well as provide opportunities for all members of TWU’s community, including staff, faculty, alumni and supporters to get involved.

TRAC held a kick-off event at TWU on February 2, 2017.Photo/TRAC

One unique aspect of this sponsorship is that many of the services that the newcomer family will need are available on campus. “We have scores of TWU students that are studying to be ESL teachers, and business students can teach them about banking and finances.” There’s also a medical clinic on campus.

The team recognizes that there is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of plans to be made, but their passion and energy for this project brings so much hope. “It’s so easy to highlight all the bad things that are happening in the world, but we want to stir hope in people,” says Jordan. “We want to remind them that they have the capacity to do something.”

Here at MCC BC, we’re working to provide you with the tools and resources you need to make a difference in the world. TRAC is a perfect example of the kind of project we want to help you accomplish, and we’re delighted that we get to walk alongside this team as they work to bring a family to Canada. To find out more about TRAC, visit their website here. While you’re at it, purchase a shirt or a sticker to show your support!

If you’re a young adult who wants to find tangible ways to respond to needs in the world, we invite you to join The Committee, a growing community of young adults across British Columbia that are committed to doing more. Sign up for our e-mail and receive five new ways you can start doing more each month.