Building Resilience in Immigrant Communities (BRIC): A Human-Centered Approach to Immigrant Support

Funded by a Tufts Springboard grant, BRIC is a joint initiative of the Henry J. Leir Institute and Tisch College at Tufts University and ACEDONE (African Community Economic Development of New England), a local organization assisting African refugees and immigrants resettling in the Boston area. At the heart of the program is an eight-month fellowship to support Tufts undergraduates (BRIC Student Fellows), Fletcher graduate students (BRIC Program Coaches), and ACEDONE community members (BRIC Community Fellows) in the co-creation of a program for women’s empowerment based on the needs and interests of the communities ACEDONE serves. The content of the program will emerge organically and collaboratively, but possible options include a child-care cooperative, investment clubs, and/or financial literacy training.

Our overarching goal is to promote women’s economic empowerment in the East African community in greater Boston by fostering collaborative learning and action between Tufts students and community members. We will do this by adopting an anti-racist, democratic approach called Participatory Action Research (PAR). PAR prioritizes (a) the participation of community members in every phase of research and project design; (b) education of both students and community members through opportunities for co-learning and dialogue; and (c) actions that improve the well-being of the community. 

Objectives

In collaboration with ACEDONE, we have identified these as our major objectives:

  1. To build positive and mutually beneficial relationships between Tufts students/faculty and the East African community in greater Boston, with a particular focus on local civic organizations and women/mothers;
  2. To collaboratively examine and document existing forms of women’s economic empowerment in this community, as well as barriers and opportunities;
  3. To co-develop a project that promotes women’s economic empowerment in this community, with a particular focus on women’s entrepreneurship through cooperative child care arrangements.

Meet the Team

Amanda Borquaye

Amanda Borquaye

BRIC Field Director

Amanda is a master’s candidate at The Fletcher School, where she focuses on human security and technology policy, particularly how technology is shaping the human rights landscape of migration and displacement. She is a research assistant at the Henry J. Leir Institute of Human Security where she field directs a women’s economic empowerment program with African refugees and immigrants in Greater Boston. At Fletcher, she serves as Managing Web Editor of The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Co-Editor-in-Chief of Praxis: The Fletcher Journal of Human Security, and co-organizes the student-run Decolonizing International Relations Conference. Prior to graduate school, she worked in Washington DC as a civil rights litigation paralegal. She holds a BA in International Relations and Sociology from Tufts University.

Anjuli Fahlberg

Tufts Professor of Sociology

Oyin Aderoba

Oyin Aderoba

BRIC Program Coach

Oyin is a graduate student at Tufts’ Fletcher School studying International Security and Strategic Management. She is a first-generation Nigerian American who grew up in Columbia, Tennessee. Prior to attending school, Oyin worked with the Women’s Bar Association & Foundation in Boston after teaching English as a Fulbright Scholar in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. She is currently working as a Business Development Intern with a global tech company and drives for Uber throughout the city. Oyin truly loves adventure, getting to know new people and ideas, and working with diverse populations. Oyin is looking forward to combining her skills, experiencing and interests to learn and grow with the BRIC Program while coaching the fellows. 

Miriam Israel

Miriam Israel

BRIC Program Coach

Miriam is in her first year as a dual-degree student at the Fletcher School and the Harvard Divinity School studying environmental policy and the role of faith communities in combatting climate change. She previously worked at a refugee resettlement agency as well as at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, supporting inclusive governance and political organizing by LGBTQI+ individuals, people with disabilities and religious and ethnic minorities. She is from Maryland and graduated from Tufts University in 2018. 

Wabei Saboi

Wabei Saboi

BRIC Program Coach

Wabei is an international student from Zambia at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. She is pursuing the Master of International Business with a focus on Global Health and Development Economics. Wabei is very passionate about economic development, public health, and women empowerment. Previously she attended the United World College, in Costa Rica, and later pursued a bachelor’s degree in Economics at Wheaton College MA, where she graduated in 2019. At Tufts, she is an Assistant Residential Life Coordinator and also serves as the Co-President of the Fletcher Women in Business. In her free time, Wabei enjoys taking walks, hanging out with friends, and watching TV shows.

Jerusha Simmons

BRIC Program Coach

Amber Asumda

Amber Asumda

BRIC Student Fellow

Amber Asumda is a senior from Snellville, Georgia pursuing a major in International Relations with a concentration in International and Development Economics and a minor in Entrepreneurship for Social Impact. As a first-generation, Ghanaian-American, Amber is passionate about legal advocacy for women and girls of African descent disproportionately facing injustices of discrimination, poverty, and gender violence (among others) in developing nations in Africa and Latin America. In spring 2021, Amber worked toward her goals by conceptualizing and chairing the inaugural, virtual Black Women’s Empowerment Conference (BWEC), a conference with over 200 attendees which sought to empower and connect Black women postsecondary students across the northeast. In addition to working on the BWEC, Amber is also a 2021 UN Millennium Fellow where she is creating an awareness project to reduce inequalities (SDG 10) among Black women students on her college campus through a speaker series that raises awareness to mental wellness and sexual health among Black women. On campus, Amber is also a Tisch Scholar, Diversity Admissions Council Member, Tufts University Social Collective Executive Co-Coordinator, and a Tufts Africana Center Black Women’s Collective Intern. Amber is excited to work with local, African businesswomen and further develop her entrepreneurial toolkit as a BRIC Student Fellow.

Chiamaka Chukwu

Chiamaka Chukwu

BRIC Student Fellow

Chiamaka Chukwu is a junior at Tufts University. She is a Community Health major and a sociology minor. She immigrated to the United States from Nigeria at 11 years old, and adapting to the new environment that my family and I found ourselves in was not an easy task. The work that ACEDONE does is a testament to the type of organizations that we need in society. One that offers support and security to a group of individuals trying to find their footing in a new state. Social justice has always been a strong interest of hers since high school. I believe that every individual within society should be given an equal opportunity to reach their fullest potential. I am looking forward to working with ACEDONE throughout this year, and I am excited to see the fruits that this collaboration will yield. 

Sarah Lilian

Sarah Lilian

BRIC Student Fellow

Hi! I’m Sarah (she/her) and I’m from Bedford, NY. I am a senior at Tufts majoring in political science and double minoring in sociology and child studies. I am passionate about education policy, community organizing, and social justice. Some of my hobbies include playing guitar, teaching swim lessons, and hiking with my dog.

Brie McGowan

Brie McGowan

Bric Student Fellow

Brie McGowan is a senior double majoring in International Relations and Economics with a concentration in Globalization and she is minoring in Arabic. She is from Fanwood, New Jersey and is passionate about studying global issues such as forced migration, international law, economic development, and human rights. Brie spent her junior year interning for the Migrant Alliance & Partnership Network, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening and connecting migrant service providers in the Boston area. This past summer, she worked as a Tisch Summer Fellow at Refugee Dream Center which is a post-resettlement refugee agency in Providence, Rhode Island. At Tufts, Brie serves on the Executive Boards of Women in International Relations, Tufts Economics Society, and Tufts Culinary Society, she is an ESL teacher through the Leonard Carmichael Society and English-At-Large, and she is the Team Captain of the Tufts Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team. Brie is very excited to be a BRIC fellow this year and is looking forward to developing an economic empowerment program based on community needs!