WU Activities in Support of Refugees
WU is carrying out a number of activities and initiatives for refugees in different areas.
“Lernen macht Schule” Volunteering Program
In 2010, WU launched the “Lernen macht Schule” volunteering program in cooperation with Caritas Vienna and the REWE Group. Each year, more than 150 WU students participate in this program as learning buddies, providing support to about 220 socially disadvantaged children and teens, for instance young people who live in refugee shelters or shared apartments for unaccompanied refugee minors or who are looked after by organizations that provide advisory, therapeutic, and educational services to refugee families.
WU, Caritas Vienna, and the REWE Group also offer regular German courses for asylum seekers who do not have any prior knowledge of German. In addition, volunteer faculty members of the Department of Foreign Language Business Communication offer complementary conversation classes to provide a highly effective learning experience through intensive practice in a small group setting.
WU established eight three-month academic internship positions for people who have been granted asylum in Austria, especially refugees who have partly or fully completed an education in economics, the social sciences, or other suitable academic disciplines which qualify them to work on projects at academic units or possibly also service units at WU. WU has established these internship positions with the support of the Berndorf Private Foundation. The positions have been filled in April.
In addition, WU also offers a number of courses as part of the MORE initiative launched by Universities Austria (uniko). The goal of the MORE initiative is to provide support and assistance to refugees who are considering enrolling in a degree program or are looking to improve their German skills.
An Award-Winning Initiative
WU would like to highlight and recommend the “Flüchtlinge Willkommen” (Refugees Welcome) initiative, which provides a platform for people willing to rent private rooms to refugees. The platform also provides assistance in financing the rental fees. The “Flüchtlinge Willkommen” initiative won the 2015 Social Impact Award.
Education program for volunteer helpers
With the POWER 2 HELP initiative, WU wants to support volunteer helpers and teach them how to work effectively and remain healthy in the long term. POWER 2 HELP is a compact continuing education program running until June 2016. The initiative was born out of the volunteer work of André Martinuzzi, head of WU’s Institute for Managing Sustainability, Christian Schober, head of WU’s Competence Center for Nonprofit Organizations and Social Entrepreneurship, and counselor Sabine Eichinger. POWER 2 HELP is a series of workshops designed to provide volunteer helpers with the skills and resources they need for working in primary support and integration projects for asylum seekers.