GSWS and political science grad embraces challenge of refugee and human rights advocacy

June 04, 2021

It’s 9 a.m. on April 19th in South Africa and SFU undergraduate student Anya Sass has awoken to the sound of sirens as fire trucks rush to save buildings at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where she studied for one semester. This horrific fire ultimately destroyed 3,500 historic collections at the university library.

Still in Cape Town, Sass is completing her second of two volunteer internships focused on helping migrants and refugees trying to resettle in the city. She’s faced many challenges, including dealing with the xenophobia of elected officials, a large volume of challenging work and the restrictions of life under COVID-19. Also, she admits that her job takes a toll.

“It’s emotionally taxing,” says Sass. “You have to listen to a lot of really difficult stories and have to accept that while you’re always going to do the best you can, some things are out of your hands and there’s only so much you can do.”

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