When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Reflecting on refugees of the past gives invaluable perspective when learning about refugees in our own day and age. When Jessie Came Across the Sea is a lovely children's book that recounts the story of Jessie, a young teen from eastern Europe who was given the opportunity by her rabbi to travel to America and start a new life there. While Jessie is fictional, her story is not unlike that of many others immigrating from Europe to America at the turn of the 19th century. In publishing this book, both the text and illustrations were checked for historical authenticity by the staff of The Jewish Museum in New York City.
Jessie's is a story of love, perseverance, sacrifice, and hope. Her motives and journey provide insight as to one reason why someone may leave their home country for another. As a descendant of European immigrants myself, I am reminded to reflect on my own family history and how my life would be different if my ancestors had not crossed the sea so long ago. As I read When Jessie Came Across the Sea to my daughters, I am inspired to have compassion on the refugees in my country and community today.
This beautiful book is a great way to start a conversation with kids about refugees in the past. I would recommend When Jessie Came Across the Sea to children ages 5 - 10.
Just as citizens in Europe and the U.K. have heroically supported displaced Ukrainians by opening up their homes or securing other housing, assisting with school enrollments, employment needs, and language learning, Americans now have the opportunity via the Welcome.us Sponsor Circles program to directly help newly arrived Ukrainians. The United States has committed to welcoming 100,000 Ukrainians temporarily for a period of two-years and the ability to apply for employment authorization in the U.S. as long as they have a U.S.-based sponsor to petition for them.
When I was in high school, I was fascinated by geography, and it struck me that there was a highway that I could hop on in my car and drive all the way down into South America. As an imaginative young girl growing up on the Texas-Mexico border, the idea of a road that could take me from my sleepy border town, Laredo, Texas, to the edge of the world in South America, left me awe struck. In high school I learned that this highway is called the Pan-American Highway.
Egette was born and raised in a refugee camp in Tanzania, Africa. In 2021, she graduated with a B.S. in psychology from George Mason University. In 2022, she received her MA in psychology with a focus in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, also from George Mason. She was recently featured in Forbes on World Mental Health Day. She founded Safe Haven Space, to empower and educate refugee families in the US about mental health and wellbeing.