The Tar Heel Blog

Current students write about life at Carolina

The Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sep 8

Meet Lizzie Russler

Sophomore Lizzie Russler is a Morehead-Cain scholar who is part of Carolina’s EURO-TAM (Contemporary European Studies and TransAtlantic Masters) dual BA/MA program. Lizzie spent her summer working with Hope of Children and Women, a non-profit organization in Uganda. She shares her story below.
The global refugee crisis is an issue that threatens international relations, political stability, economic development, and, most importantly, human rights. This is why I arranged to spend spent my summer in Uganda working with Hope of Children and Women (HOCW), a small grassroots non-profit based outside of Kampala, Uganda that was founded by Congolese refugees. HOCW is structured around a community model (a non-profit style uncommon in the US), and it seeks to better the livelihoods of refugees through healthcare, education, and job-training programs.

During my time with the organization, some of the projects I worked on included revamping HOCW’s media presence through newsletters, Facebook posts, and a newly designed website; running a workshop for the youth group; planning and painting 4 murals with the youth group; and communicating and collaborating with two representatives from the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on their grant for the agriculture project. I hadn’t anticipated my work being so media intensive, but I am fulfilled by what I did because I knew I was assisting in the areas where there was need.

I spent a long time talking to one of my friends at HOCW from South Sudan, and he gave me a beaded bracelet. “This way,” he said, “you can take South Sudan with you and tell the world we are suffering.” I loved my work, and I was continually amazed by the students’ perseverance, courage, warmth, and eagerness to learn.

All in all, this was an incredible, eye-opening experience that UNC made possible. It forced me to think critically about female empowerment, volunteering, development, and my responsibility as a global citizen. I have also learned a lot in terms of the asylum process, the developing world, NGOs, graphic design, grant implementation, and intercultural dialogue.

–Lizzie Russler, UNC ’20