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The Afghan Refugee Accompaniment Program

The Afghan Refugee Accompaniment (ARA) Program is a collaborative project of the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland (Roshan-UMD) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

The program brings together University of Maryland Persian Studies students and local Afghan refugees for a mutually beneficial service learning experience.

Afghan refugees are currently the largest refugee population in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area served by IRC. While making the difficult adjustment to life in a new country they frequently struggle with a variety of problems, including social isolation/integration into the community, developing English language skills, and learning about local community resources and American culture.

UMD students chosen to participate in the ARA Program as ARA interns help our new Afghan neighbors during their transition into their new life in America while themselves benefiting from the opportunity to learn more about Afghan Persian culture and the Dari dialect of Persian spoken in Afghanistan. ARA interns also receive training in refugee care from the IRC and additional training in Afghan culture and Dari (Persian) from Roshan-UMD faculty.

The ARA program is structured around semesterly community events (involving all participants in the ARA Program) and more flexible weekly meetings designed around the needs of each specific Afghan family. ARA Program interns can also separately volunteer to do “airport welcomes” for newly arriving Afghan refugee families and help them set up their apartments.

If you are interested in participating in the ARA Program, please attend the annual information session held at the beginning of each academic year or contact the ARA Program director, Matthew Miller.



Matthew Miller

Assistant Professor, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Assistant Professor of Persian Literature & Digital Humanities and Director of Roshan Initiative in Persian Digital Humanities (PersDig@UMD), Roshan Institute for Persian Studies
Assistant Professor, Persian