Finalists Selected for CIEE’s Inaugural GIC UNHCR Student Challenge in Berlin

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Three university student teams will travel to the Global Internship Conference (GIC) in Berlin, Germany to present their best ideas addressing economic inclusion for people forced to flee their homes.

On Sunday, CIEE announced the university student teams who will advance to the final round of the 2023 GIC UNHCR Student Challenge that will be held at the Global Internship Conference in Berlin on June 21-23, 2023.

For this inaugural GIC UNHCR Student Challenge, CIEE, in collaboration with co-sponsors UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and Newlab, invited 36 student teams representing 42 universities and 11 countries to present their best ideas to address economic inclusion for forcibly displaced populations. Challenge partners District C and Microsoft provided additional support.

While in Berlin, the finalists will continue to workshop their proposal with guidance from a team mentor then present their idea in the 2023 GIC UNHCR Student Challenge finals. The team awarded the Grand Prize will be announced on June 23. Each member of the winning team will earn a summer 2024 global internship facilitated by CIEE, and an opportunity for their idea to be entered in the MUN Refugee Challenge.

The three student teams awarded a trip to Berlin to compete in-person in the 2023 GIC UNHCR Student Challenge finals are:

  • Synergy— Davaasuren Surenragchaa (Captain), University of Toronto Scarborough; Simon Alexander and Yesui Nyamchuluum, both from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.
  • The Wolves of Childs Way— Justin Kit Hang Tang (Captain); Hoi Ling Wong; Muktahal Singh Birring; and Armelle Davasse, all from the University of Southern California.
  • Team Synergy— Favour Ogunwole (Captain), Jose Ortega, Luke Larson, and Caitlin Sturm, all from Winona State University.

The student teams selected as finalists fully embraced the spirit of the challenge and each presented an idea that has significant potential to address this critical challenge.

Students’ ideas were evaluated by judges from across the globe representing organizations advocating for refugees, including the Institute for International Education (IIE), Kepler, the President’s Alliance for Immigration and Higher Education, rewirED, and UNHCR’s Tertiary Refugee Student Network (TRSN).

“We are so proud of all the students who dedicated their time and talents to developing solutions that help refugees,” said Linda Liu, VP of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships at CIEE. “We were pleased to partner with UNHCR, NewLab, District C, and Microsoft to deliver this unique opportunity for university student teams from all over the world to gain critical employability skills while tackling one of the most critical issues in our world today.”

“Many refugees continue to face legal and practical restrictions that hinder their access to decent employment opportunities. Student leaders are in a unique position to use their creativity and insights to mobilise their networks and design solutions for refugees' economic inclusion and access to decent work. We are delighted about partnering with CIEE and the active engagement of students,” said Alia Al-Khatar-Williams, Deputy Director, Division of Resilience and Solutions, UNHCR.

About the GIC UNHCR Student Challenge

The GIC UNHCR Student Challenge aims to deliver a mini experience that mirrors what students might encounter while participating in a global internship. The 2023 challenge, co-sponsored by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and Newlab, builds upon the Model United Nations (MUN) Refugee Challenge, an initiative launched by UNHCR to encourage students worldwide to shape solutions for people forced to flee their homes. Through this experience, students received training and mentorship to build critical skills for addressing this challenge and preparing for future careers.

About the Global Internship Conference (GIC)

GIC is the premier forum dedicated to advancing the integration of work and global learning. The 11th Annual Global Internship Conference will be held this year in Berlin and centered on the theme “Global Experiential Learning in a Borderless World.” The conference will feature diverse voices in discussion of the critical role of work-based experiential learning in preparing young people for a global workplace in the wake of the pandemic. Learn more at

About CIEE

CIEE builds bridges between different people, different countries, and different cultures. For 75 years, we have helped young people participate in high-quality international exchange and study abroad programs that bring the world together. We change lives, our alumni change the world. Learn more at


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