In The Boy at the Back of the Class, by Onjali Q. Rauf, five students learn they can make a difference and the value of friendship. Ahmet is a new student in school, he is a 9 year old Syrian refugee. This is the story of how he becomes friends with Alexa, Michael, Josie, and Tom. Ahmet continually shows his bravery as he learns to adapt to a new place and to trust his new friends. Alexa, Michael, Josie and Tom learn that they can speak out and stand up and that friendship is a joy no matter the differences. In this book, there were both children and adults that were unkind, something that we come across on a daily basis. However, the five main characters found ways to stand up to those that were unkind. They learned that by talking to helpful and kind adults around them, they could make plans and make a difference. This book would make a great read-aloud for 8 to 12 year olds and would provide for lots of discussion about how to be a friend and specifically how to support refugee friends. The book ends with several helpful pages of questions to consider and offers ideas of how individuals can help with the current refugee crisis. For other options to find ways to help visit: https://tsosrefugees.org/blog/2021/08/16/how-you-can-help-our-afghan-allies
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.