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Coming of Age in America, Elly Fishman & RefugeeOne

Want to learn more about the journey of refugee youth? RefugeeOne will host a free virtual event about the challenges and triumphs of young refugees on Tuesday, October 19 at 6:30 p.m. Click here to visit RefugeeOne and RSVP for the event!

Meet Elly Fishman, author of the new and acclaimed book Refugee High: Coming of Age in America, and hear from several refugee students about their experiences adjusting to life in the U.S. You'll also meet staff from RefugeeOne's youth program, who walk alongside young refugees from the moment they first arrive.
About RefugeeOne:
RefugeeOne creates opportunity for refugees fleeing war, terror, and persecution to build new lives of safety, dignity, and self-reliance.

Every year, RefugeeOne serves more than 2,500 refugees and immigrants of all ages, ethnic groups, faiths, and backgrounds. Our primary focus is to assist these resilient individuals in becoming an independent, self-supporting member of their new community.

​As the largest resettlement agency in Illinois, RefugeeOne has welcomed more than 18,000 refugees through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program since 1982. RefugeeOne walks alongside refugees from the moment they land at O'Hare International Airport—welcoming them to Chicago and providing furnished apartments, English classes, job search support, mental health care, youth programming, and mentors to help them adjust to life in the U.S.

About the book:
A year in the life of a Chicago high school that has one of the highest proportions of refugees of any school in the nation, Winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Award

A wondrous tapestry of stories, of young people looking for a home. With deep, immersive reporting, Elly Fishman pulls off a triumph of empathy. Their tales and their school speak to the best of who we are as a nation--and their struggles, their joys, their journeys will stay with you. -Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here

For a century, Chicago's Roger C. Sullivan High School has been a home to immigrant and refugee students. In 2017, during the worst global refugee crisis in history, its immigrant population numbered close to three hundred--or nearly half the school--and many were refugees new to the country. These young people came from thirty-five different countries, speaking among themselves more than thirty-eight different languages.

For these refugee teens, life in Chicago is hardly easy. They have experienced the world at its worst and carry the trauma of the horrific violence they fled. In America, they face poverty, racism, and xenophobia, but they are still teenagers--flirting, dreaming, and working as they navigate their new life in America.

Refugee High is a riveting chronicle of the 2017-8 school year at Sullivan High, a time when anti-immigrant rhetoric was at its height in the White House. Even as we follow teachers and administrators grappling with the everyday challenges facing many urban schools, we witness the complicated circumstances and unique education needs of refugee and immigrant children: Alejandro may be deported just days before he is scheduled to graduate; Shahina narrowly escapes an arranged marriage; and Belenge encounters gang turf wars he doesn't understand.

Equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring, Refugee High raises vital questions about the priorities and values of a public school and offers an eye-opening and captivating window into the present-day American immigration and education systems.

About the author:
Elly Fishman's long-form investigative writing often covers the lives of young people navigating urban America. She is a former senior staff editor at Chicago magazine, where her stories won numerous awards, including the Chicago Tribune's Beardstown Award and the prestigious Peter Lisagor Award for best feature reporting. The author of Refugee High: Coming of Age in America (The New Press), she lives in Chicago.

Refugee High: Coming of Age in America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620975084
Availability: Available, order here for delivery or pickup.
Published: New Press - August 10th, 2021

Event date: 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 6:30pm

Event address: 

Unabridged Books, Inc.
Chicago, IL 60657
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