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The Journey Matters

Trina Harlow, book editor and film co-director, explains her hope and vision for this body of educational work for the field of education and for other volunteers working with newcomer and refugee children and adolescents (additional video not in the documentary film):


Hello I'm here at Curtis Middle School in Wichita, Kansas and the Wichita Unified School District. We have been interviewing students here at Curtis Middle School and Wichita North High School and Washington Elementary School. These three schools have a larger refugee population – newcomers as we call them – in our schools. I've been really moved and touched beyond words by the experiences these young people have been through in their young lives and they're here in school with American students or American-born students or students from other countries too, that haven't experienced the degree of difficulty that some of these students have, fleeing from country after country, war after war, seeing family members killed, and then they end up on a plane and end up in Kansas where it gets cold. I've been really moved by their stories, I've been moved by the educators that we've met and how dedicated they are to these students. The ESL programs are outstanding here and students just report amazing learning happening in the ESL students and we've seen it with our own eyes.

My hope for this documentary and eBook is that we can provide a tool for educators – not just in Kansas but all over the world – that are working with refugee students who experience trauma and more difficulties in life than maybe some students in other parts of the world. How do we reach those students, how, do we make the school environment meet their needs, how do we give them opportunities to tell their stories, which is an important part of healing, how do we use art, which – I'm an art teacher – how do we use art to heal the students that are affected by trauma? Not all of them are, especially, research shows that students whose parents were able to deal with their situation emotionally well, that the students do well but it's those students whose parents experienced great difficulty or death, those students really struggle and so we're looking at what's going on in schools that are really doing it right with newcomer students and what can we learn from observing that and then how can we share that information with schools all over Kansas and all over the world. How can we be a force for good in Kansas.

It's really an honor to be talking to these students and hearing their stories and more than that, I'm really touched by how these students love it here and how they want to be involved in sharing how we can help them more. They are so complimentary of our schools and their life here but all of them have suggestions for how we can be better teachers and how our schools can meet their needs better so I'm about to go into Curtis Middle School I hope that you really gain something from this documentary and the eBook and I hope you can pull parts of it out and use it in your classroom or your community group anywhere you're working around the world with refugee students newcomers displaced children. They need us to care and it's just an honor to be a part of this project and I hope you get something from it.

Journey to Refuge ebook cover

Download the eBook at New Prairie Press

Published April 2019

Recommended Citation: Harlow, Trina D., "Journey to Refuge: Understanding Refugees, Exploring Trauma, and Best Practices for Newcomers and Schools" (2019). NPP eBooks. 26. https://newprairiepress.org/ebooks/26

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

See the full Refuge in the Heartland documentary

For more information about the eBook or film, please contact Dr. Trina Harlow, Book Editor and Film Co-Director, at drtrinaharlow@gmail.com.