Thursday, June 16, 2011

World Refugee Day – June 20th, 2011

This year’s theme, selected by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), is One Is Too Many.

Every day, millions of refugees face murder, rape and terror. We believe even 1 is too many.
Two resources that capture the refugee experience that I’d recommend are:

Inside out and back again by Thanhha Lai, a first novel based on her experiences living in Vietnam prior to the fall of Saigon, as a refugee and finally, in 1970s Alabama as an immigrant.

Culture shock and homesickness consume Kim Ha and her family as they adjust to their new lives. Though physically safe (well, mostly) the locals are not always welcoming and Kim struggles with finding her place in school, dealing with bullies and feeling ‘dumb’. The short, narrative verse format gives us ‘snapshots’ of Kim’s experiences but does convey the emotional upheaval as well as the physical. What was left behind in Vietnam and all the longing for things to be ‘normal’ are epitomized in Kim’s desire to taste fresh papaya. A very touching story for grades 4-9.


War child, (962.4 Wa 208 DVD) a multiple award winning DVD. Emmanuel Jal, a hip-hop artist who sings of his experiences as a Sudanese refugee and child soldier and is driven to make a difference in the lives of people in Sudan and Kenya. We see Emmanuel return to Sudan and reconnect with family members, in concert, and in a Kenyan refugee camp as a seven year old boy. (Rated PG-13).


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