Friday Feature: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

NoVioletWe Need New Names, nominated for the prestigious Man Booker prize this year, tells the story of Darling and her friends Stina, Chipo, Godknows, Sbho and Bastard.

They all used to have proper houses, with real rooms and furniture, but now they all live in a shanty town called Paradise. They dream of escaping to other paradises – America, Dubai, Europe. But if they do escape, will these new lands bring everything they wish for?

It is often difficult to maintain empathy for our clients when they just won’t listen to our advice.  This book articulates the frustration of trying to achieve your dream when you are doing a hard job you don’t enjoy while struggling to find your way when you can’t go home and don’t feel at home where you are.

This is the first time I’ve included a work of fiction  as a Friday Feature.  It’s been a long time since I found anything I’ve read as relevant for our work.

(Every Friday we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

It’s Not Too Late to Help Test Higher’s Inaugural E-learning Training

On Tuesday, December 3 from 3:00 – 4:00pm, Higher will host a special webinar and there is still time for you to get involved.

More than 100 Employment professionals from around the country have already signed up to be among the first to test one or more of our inaugural E-learning trainings.  It’s not too late to join them.

Reserve your webinar spot now at https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/834262383.

During that event, you’ll

  • tour our new Learning Management System (LMS),
  • see highlights from several of the modules,
  • get a free lifetime username and password to access our growing library of on-line training and
  • provide feedback to improve current trainings and influence future e-learning opportunities.

You can choose to test as many modules as you’d like from these six choices.  For refugees, we will offer Job Application Basics and US Work Culture Parts One and Two.  For employment professionals, choose from Initial Communication with Employers, Client Employability Assessment and Introduction to Higher E-Learning.

Find out about all the ways you can use this great new resource.  Join our team of testers and sign up for the webinar now.

Webinar Snip

Friday Feature: I Learn America (2013)

i learn america

Sing Pi, Burmese Chin refugee, as pictured on the I Learn American website

“In America, nearly one in four children is an immigrant or was born to immigrant parents.  Our classrooms are meeting a growing influx of students who speak little to no English, who are unfamiliar with American culture, and, in some cases, who lack formal education. The fate of these young immigrants is at the core of America’s continually emerging identity.”

I Learn America has premiered at a Colorado high school and at the DOCNYC film festival where I saw it on Sunday.  One of the five new immigrant students featured in the film is Sing Pi, a Burmese Chin refugee resettled in 2009 by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

All of the stories featured in this film illustrate various aspects of our client’s experiences.  A quote from Sing in the film gives the refugee perspective on learning English. He said, “I’m tired of learning new languages.”  Since starting his journey toward resettlement in the US, he has learned “Burmese, Malaysian, Indonesian and now English” on top of his native Chin dialect.

I haven’t been able to get a schedule of future screenings, but everyone should definitely watch for the chance to see this film.  You can watch a trailer and learn more at their website.

(Every Friday we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

Friday Feature: They Call It Myanmar (2012)

They Call It Myanmar PosterIn the past two  years, Burma (or Myanmar) has become a hot spot for international development, media attention and famous visitors.   Refugees from ethnic minority hill tribes have been a significant percentage of resettled populations since 2007.

“Shot clandestinely over a two year period, this film provides a rare look into the second most isolated country on the planet held in a stasis by a brutal military regime for almost a half century. From over 100 interviews of people across Burma, including the recently released Aung San Suu Kyi, interwoven with stunning footage of Burmese life this documentary is truly unique.” according to the official ImdB description.  According to Burmese-American interpreters and friends, the film is an accurate portrayal and tells a story most of our clients don’t know about their own country of origin.

While it does not emphasize the ongoing issues that cause our clients to flee, this film presents an objective but, at time difficult to watch, portrayal of life for ordinary citizens and a bit of the historical context.

You can learn more at the official website and watch the entire documentary on youtube.

(Every Friday we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

Friday Feature: El Norte (1983)

El NorteEl Norte, a classic immmigrant film you may not have seen, portrays the physical and emotional hazards of the journey many border crossers and asylees make to reach safety in the US.  Although the protagonists are not refugees, they face many of the same difficulties adjusting to life and work in their new country.  They arrived with very skewed pre-conceptions gained from the US media about what their lives would be like.  The expectations clients bring from media or word of mouth in their communities often contribute to the employment barriers we address with clients.  It’s one of my all time favorite movies and has alot to teach about our client’s realities.

(Every Friday we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

 

Friday Feature: Great List of Books and Films Featuring Refugees

Project Soar LogoProject SOAR, an initiative of the International Rescue Committee, in partnership with the Nationalities Service Center. With support from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Project SOAR provided organizations in the United States that serve refugees with the tools they need to develop and deliver high-quality services.   The website has a collection of other great resources and will be taken off line at the end of this year.  That’s another good reason to check it out.

(Every Friday we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

 

Friday Feature: Iraqi Heavy Metal in Sound and Screen

heavy Metal in Baghdad PosterHeavy Metal in Baghdad, a 2007 film, portrayed the Iraqi metal scene (who knew?) and the affect of violence on that community and members of the band Acrassicauda.  Flash forward to 2009 when the members came to the US as refugees.  They’re still playing today. I sawthem  a couple of years ago and will have another chance this evening in Washington, DC.

Learn more about the Iraqi metal scene, their journey, and check out their tour schedule to see them when they’re playing near you.

Even if metal isn’t your scene, it’s great to experience refugees finding success and earning money doing what they love.  It puts a new spin on the whole question of professional recertification, right?

I won’t embed a song clip for this one, but you can listen here (better use headphones!) Happy Friday.

(Every Friday we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

 

Friday Feature: The Price of Silence (Music Video)

This song and music video, produced to raise awareness and funding for Amnesty International, brings together 16 of the worlds top musicians—some of whom have fled oppressive regimes—in a musical plea to guarantee human rights for all.  Amnesty International is a widely recognized name around the world and their website and awareness-raising campaigns are substantive, visually interesting and can help you engage  employers and communities around refugee issues.

Donated by Aterciopelados and arranged by fusion music guru Andres Levin, the track combines the voices of Hugh Masekela, Julieta Venegas, Stephen Marley, Angelique Kidjo, Yungchen Lhamo, Aterciopelados, Yerba Buena, Natacha Atlas, Rachid Taha, Kiran Ahluwalia, Chiwoniso and Emmanual Jal with those of U.S. artists Natalie Merchant, and Chali 2Na of Jurassic 5.  Introduction by Laurence Fishburne.   Learn more about Amnesty’s platform for refugee and migrant rights. and have a great weekend!

(Every Friday we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

Celebrate a Social Media Milestone with Higher

Woohoo!  We reached 100 likes on Facebook.  That’s a great milestone to achieve in less than two months.  We take that as a sign that we’re reaching more employment professionals with useful information.

To celebrate, we’ll send a great tote bag made by refugee women from recycled billboards to the next three readers who comment on any of our facebook posts.

If you missed our previous post, read more about Billboard Bags success story.  Thanks to Gisele Nelson for providing the great photos – and to photographer Morgan Blake for taking them.

100 FB like Bag PicMonkey Collage

Friday Feature: Somalis in Maine, by Kim Huisman, et.al.

Somalis in Maine Book CoverIn light of recent remarks and media coverage attempting to link the Somali community in the US to events overseas, Somalis in Maine, edited by Kim Huisman, et. al. is timely.  It was recommended  by several people in the refugee social services community in Maine during research for the next issue of Higher’s Newsletter coming out later this year.  I’m still waiting for my copy in the mail, so haven’t read it, yet.

In just a brief visit, it was impossible to miss the community ties Somalis continue to deepen in their new home in Portland and Lewiston.

  • I watched soccer over tea and pastry in a Somali-owned shop in downtown Lewiston established with a small business loan and technical assistance from the StartSmart refugee program of Coastal Enterprise Institute.
  • I bought fresh, organic produce at a farm stand that is a part of training and income generation for Somali farmers in the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project at Cultivating Communities.

It’s especially important now to share balanced information about the contributions Somali and all refugees make in the US.  You can read a bit about the Somali community perspective on recent events in this article from the New York Times. It would be great to hear from anyone who has read this book already.

(Every Friday we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)