New book redefines refugee experience – Chicago Magazine

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The reason I came to Sullivan for a new book is Refugee High: the arrival of the American era??

Most of the refugees in Chicago have resettled in Rogers Park, and for many of them, Sullivan is a school in their neighborhood.

Children have incredibly diverse needs. Some can only communicate via Google Translate. Some people refuse to eat lunch because they only eat one meal a day in their own country. What is Sullivan doing for them?

You think of refugee children, and you don’t necessarily think of the diversity of the whole. You have Syrian children who graduated from college but ran away and don’t have the papers, so they reluctantly go back to high school. Or you have a child in the same class who has spent their entire life in a refugee camp and has no formal education. The fact that education is different from child to child translates into flexibility and understanding.

The book is, Chicago magazine. What did you think you had more of me?

With books, there is much more space to explore the contradictions, the nuances and all the small and beautiful things about the lives of these children. I was interested in complicating this idea of ​​the refugee story.

One way to do this is to use an interlude that tells your parents about it. What did you sympathize with?

I heard about Tobias [the father of a Congolese refugee] Probably won’t talk to me. And you can tell he’s broken in so many ways without even telling him about it. I entered the interview with little expectation. There was a moment when I was sitting there and he started to tell me about the moment he had run away from the Congo with his daughter. He started to sing that lullaby out of nowhere. He was a lullaby singing to his daughter over and over as they progressed through the jungle in the dark. It completely changed how I thought about him.

What about the children?

Most of the stories we hear, of course, focus on the trauma, life in the camps, and the hardships refugees face. But when you walk into Sullivan, you’ll see these kids doing TikTok dance or snapchat. They flirt. This is gossip. They are just teenagers in an instantly recognizable way. It is truly magical.

New book redefines refugee experience – Chicago Magazine

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