From picture books to novels, the offerings in this week’s column explore war and its impact on everyday lives. Some of the books deal with events and people in past wars or present-day conflicts around the world, while others consider war and its aftermath in general terms. The books approach the experiences and effects of war from various perspectives and are rich resources for encouraging discussion in classrooms.
The educational needs of refugee and immigrant students are frequently unmet in the United States and other nations across the globe, a new United Nations report concludes. "Building Bridges, Not Walls," a report released Tuesday by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization makes the argument that the current immigration policies of the U.S. government create too many barriers for students who are immigrants or refugees. The report calls for policy changes that would make it easier to integrate these children into schools, increase their access to quality education, and ensure immigrant and refugee families know that schools are safe spaces.
This year's list of Rhodes Scholars is remarkable for many reasons. Almost two-thirds of the recipients are women and nearly half are first-generation Americans or immigrants. But one scholarship winner in particular made history this year. Harvard University student Jin Park has become the first recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — DACA — to earn a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
Long before Hamilton became a global sensation, Lin-Manuel Miranda first made his Broadway debut with a powerful celebration of his community. After a successful Off-Broadway run, In the Heights won four Tony Awards. A film adaptation is slated to come out in 2020. The story follows a vibrant cast of predominantly Spanish-speaking characters in the NYC neighborhood of Washington Heights. The charismatic narrator Usnavi runs a small bodega. Daniela owns a salon. Kevin operates his own taxi service. The Piragua Guy, well, sells piraguas (a Puerto Rican shaved ice). Miranda is of Puerto Rican descent and lives in Washington Heights. Ahead of Small Business Saturday on November 24, Miranda showcases his friends throughout Washington Heights in a new American Express (AXP) ad. "I live in a wonderful community that is known for and prides itself in having businesses built by immigrants and I'm proud to patronize those businesses," he said.
Local students are partnering with a nonprofit organization to collect blankets for immigrant families. Sarah Hudson, social studies teacher at Advanced Learning Academy, is leading A Blanket For The Journey Project. "The students are doing a 'Speak up, Speak out,' which asks them to identify a problem in the world and try to solve it," Hudson said.
Two days before Thanksgiving two years ago, Sloane Davidson received a telephone call and a request. "We have a family for you and want to know if you want to invite them to Thanksgiving dinner." Davidson had signed up with a service organization to invite a family of refugees to a meal, she told her audience during a recent program at Mt. Lebanon Public Library. And a couple and their three children who fled from Syria were interested in participating. With the blessing of the hosts of her own family's Thanksgiving dinner, Davidson made the necessary arrangements. "And so this family did, sight unseen, knock on our door and come join us for Thanksgiving dinner," the mother of two said. The occasion helped lead to her founding Hello Neighbor, a Pittsburgh-based mentorship program supporting recently resettled refugees and their families, in January 2017.
Two years ago this month, Mayada Anjari was only dimly aware that a holiday was approaching. After the family's three-year journey as refugees from Syria, her sons — Hayan, Mohammed and Abdulrazaq — had just started school here; her husband, Ahmad Abdulhamid, was looking for work; and she had a baby girl, Jana, to chase after. This fall, Jana began prekindergarten, and fans of Ms. Anjari's food helped her publish a cookbook of Syrian recipes. So she decided to take a test run at making her first Thanksgiving feast. Before she even began cooking, there were many mysteries to be solved. Were the apples really going to be baked with cinnamon, a spice that Ms. Anjari uses with meat and chicken? Why would you roast a bird whole — how would it get evenly cooked that way? How can macaroni and cheese, one of her children’s favorite dinners, be a side dish? Were the mashed potatoes not going to be seasoned with a little garlic and a lot of caramelized onions, the way she makes them?
Sean Sherman is the founder and CEO of The Sioux Chef and the author of The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen, which won the 2018 James Beard Award for best American cookbook. In this essay, he writes, “Many of my indigenous brothers and sisters refuse to celebrate Thanksgiving, protesting the whitewashing of the horrors our ancestors went through, and I don't blame them. But I have not abandoned the holiday. I have just changed how I practice it…People may not realize it, but what every person in this country shares, and the very history of this nation, has been in front of us the whole time. Most of our Thanksgiving recipes are made with indigenous foods: turkey, corn, beans, pumpkins, maple, wild rice and the like. We should embrace this."
An 88-year-old Carson City woman who has dedicated the past 15 years helping people throughout Northern Nevada learn English and become American citizens is among 10 finalists selected by CNN as a Top Hero for 2018.
After 10 years of consistent gains, the number of immigrant families enrolled in SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, fell by 10 percent in 2018. Particularly, for families who had been in the U.S for fewer than five years. The finding comes from new research presented this month at the American Public Health Association annual conference. The study surveyed 35,000 immigrant mothers of U.S. citizen children in five U.S. cities, including Boston and Baltimore. Lead researcher Allison Bovell-Ammon at Boston Medical Center says the research is preliminary and there are many possible explanations for the drop in enrollment, including an improved economy. Still, she suspects the data could be a reflection of the many news stories reported this year, of families who have chosen to leave social benefit programs out of fear it could impact their immigration status.