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F&M Students Participate in Clinton Global Initiative
Franklin & Marshall College students Akbar Hossain ’13 (left) and Christian Hartranft ’12 participated in the Clinton Global Initiative University March 30-April 1 at George Washington University. The students shared their idea for the The AID Project, which aims to help attorneys represent refugees seeking protection in the United States. (Photo courtesy of Christian Hartranft)
By Chris Karlesky
April 19, 2012
Franklin & Marshall College students Christian Hartranft ’12 and Akbar Hossain ’13 traveled to George Washington University March 30-April 1 to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), where they presented a project they hope will improve the ability of attorneys to represent refugees seeking protection in the United States.
Hartranft and Hossain were among 1,200 to attend the event, which brings together students, national youth organizations, topic experts and celebrities to discuss solutions to pressing global issues. CGI U enables students to share their “Commitments to Action,” or specific plans for addressing challenges in society. This year’s CGI U had five focus areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.
At the conference, the F&M students shared their idea for the Accessible Immigration Database (The AID Project). The project aims to create a centralized online database of country conditions, human rights information and case-based materials for use by pro bono attorneys representing clients in U.S. immigration cases. The students formulated the idea after taking F&M’s “Human Rights/Human Wrongs” course in the fall of 2011. In the course, they worked in groups to compile evidence, testimony and detainee affidavits for use in an immigration court of law.
“The course opened our eyes to the opportunities for safety and security offered by American immigration laws to those fleeing persecution, but we also saw the difficulty faced by clients and attorneys to access essential information,” said Hartranft, a government major and French minor at F&M.
The students, who are also working with Mark Harmon-Vaught ’15 and Mona Lotfipour ’12 on the project, hope the database will serve as a research tool and source of hard evidence for attorneys to use in various ways. They met with students and experts from around the country at CGI U to learn how to develop the most effective project.
“The Clinton Global Initiative gave us an opportunity to turn our idea into action,” said Hossain, who recently won a Harry S. Truman Scholarship to do graduate studies in public service.
The students will launch The AID Project’s online database using research material from eight asylum and related cases compiled by F&M students in the past year. They plan to expand the database after gathering input from immigration attorneys in the coming year.
The AID Project is also part of the Dell Social Innovation Challenge, a competition that identifies and supports promising young social innovators who have transformative ideas. Visit the challenge’s website to vote for The AID Project.
CGI U was borne out of the Clinton Global Initiative, which was founded in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton to convene global leaders to devise solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Clinton launched CGI U in 2007 to engage students from a wide range of academic disciplines in the initiative.