The Backlash: Attitudes overseas about Refugee Kids attending public school reflect what we may be facing here in the US

It is not new news that many countries in Europe, and more recently Canada, have been taking refugees from Syria and other war-torn regions for months, and that the “honeymoon” period of goodwill and charity is starting to wear thin–and the backlash is growing. See this article:

As an educator here in the US, particularly in Arizona, a state not known for particularly liberal views or  an “open-armed” policy toward immigrants,  I am concerned that these children and their families, who will be coming from various war zones around the world–Syria and Iraq most notably–will be facing just such resistance and unwelcome attitudes in our own community.

I found out just a few weeks ago, that we could expect an undisclosed but possibly large group of immigrant students, due to enroll in our school as early as mid-October. An apartment complex nearby likely took a contract to house as many families as they could accommodate, with some families having up to 8 members in a household. This is a bit of a stressful situation, mainly in how our classrooms may need to grow in size, which may possibly even create a need for combination classes—mainly ESL combo classes, which means my current position as a resource “pull-out” teacher may become a thing of the past. Although I am an experienced classroom teacher, even combo-grades, I like my current position. On the other hand, I look forward to the challenges and the joys of working with refugee students again.

This doesn’t mean I do not acknowledge the concerns about our school “climate” changing drastically (a big concern for my principal), or that there is likely to be health and mental/emotional issues among these children–I do, and there will be issues on a scale this school is not likely to have faced in some time. But this is what I have prepared for most of my professional life, and all of my training and schooling is going to be put to the test.

But the real issue here are the rights of the refugee students–they have a right to safe haven, to be able to go to school, to feel accepted. And with the current public climate, that terrorism is somehow following these children into our country, I am doubly concerned. I am going to need to advocate like never before. Will our community be up to the task?

Will I?

I truly hope so, for theirs—and all of our sake.



2 thoughts on “The Backlash: Attitudes overseas about Refugee Kids attending public school reflect what we may be facing here in the US

  1. I live in a country that has taken a huge number of refugees per capita – almost the highest number of any European nation. In my village of approximately 1000 people, we have now added 30 refugees – all young boys/men – mostly from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. In the village, there are about 10 families who have made the commitment to help these young men integrate. Each of us have three or four that we try to help in particular. In our case, we have five “adoptees”. They are all wonderfully diverse and complicated people with traumatic experiences behind them. It has been an enrichment to hear their stories and to fold them into our daily lives. We have some suspicions about them. We have had wonderful evenings together, full of laughter while playing games. We have been frustrated at the inability of some of them to recognize the opportunities being offered to them. We have been incredibly impressed by sheer will to succeed in others. It is not all perfect. We worry about them and have our doubts about how well they will be able to succeed. We realize fully that we cannot steer the trajectory of their lives and that in some cases our efforts will be in vain.. But we do what we can. Because we can.

    I went on too long in all of this.
    My message to you: do what you can. And if anyone asks you why you are doing it, answer “Because I can.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, and this is exactly the kind of interaction I’ve been looking for on my blog page. This is not too long an account at all, and mirrors somewhat the experiences I and others like me who work with refugees have experienced. It is a new paradigm insofar as now we are dealing with a massive influx, one not seen in recent history for our community and schools. Our first students arrived this week, from the Congo. I ahve begun the process of reaching out to the family, the children, and just showing them I am willing advocate for them, as they speak only Swahili, I have to use “survival” phrases or procure an interpreter for them, which is my next step. I appreciate your comments, and wish you the best of luck in your own efforts.

      Liked by 1 person

Speak Your Mind

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s