Students Staff

16 November 2012

Fulbright Scholar joins world leading refugee care course at Essex

Doug Richard

David Javier Thompson is studying refugee care at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies

A unique Masters focusing on how to support refugees, asylum seekers and other displaced people has attracted a Fulbright scholar to the University of Essex.

David Javier Thompson, known as Javier, is delighted the prestigious US-UK Fulbright Awards Programme has offered him the opportunity to study for a Masters in Refugee Care in the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies at Essex.

Javier was born in Colombia before being adopted in the United States and his own experiences have encouraged his interest in exploring the experiences of internationally displaced peoples.

He said: “This is the only course of its kind in the world because it merges theory with practice. In the future I want to be a clinician, working as a psychologist, so during my course I wanted to be able to study the theory of refugee care and also have that experience of working one on one with people.

“It is still sinking in that I have been awarded the Fulbright Scholarship. This is a defining moment in my life as you are not only the recipient of a very prestigious award - you are also a cultural ambassador and you are being recognised as someone who has the potential to be a leader in their field.”

The MA Refugee Care course, which is delivered through a partnership with Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, is world-renowned for helping students gain a systematic and practical understanding of the complex issues faced by refugees and asylum seekers.

The programme was founded by course director Professor Renos Papadopoulos who is also an Honorary Clinical Psychologist and Systemic Family Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic. As consultant to the United Nations and other organisations, he has been working with refugees and other survivors of political violence and disasters in many countries throughout the world.

Experienced clinicians, academics and researchers are part of the team delivering the course, which maintains close contacts with centres of excellence in different parts of the world and with many specialist services and organisations in the UK where students can do placements.

Javier said: “The course offers a unique opportunity to network with professionals working in this field.”

A psychology graduate from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, Javier has previously undertaken research into the experience of survivors of natural disasters including Hurricane Katrina and a major wild fire in San Diego. Before this he gained a degree in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Since arriving at Essex, Javier has been enjoying the academic opportunities on offer, finding out more about the work of the Centre for Psychoanalytical Studies plus other related centres of international excellence including the Human Rights Centre.

But, he has also found time to take part in the cultural life of the University. “I’ve enjoyed meeting people from all over the world at Essex,” he said. “I have also joined the Latin American Society and SXDance – the University’s Dance Society, where I am trying Latin and Ballroom. I am also studying French through the Languages for All programme.”

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