More than 50 million citizens across the globe were forcibly displaced from their homes in 2014, the highest number of refugees and internally displaced people since 1994. More than half of them were under the age of 18.
A refugee is a person who, "owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."
Hmong story cloth
Each displaced young person will have her own experiences and pathway to your youth program and neighborhood. Her experiences vary with her situation and country of origin. Most of these young people have experienced significant loss and trauma as a result of the conflict at the root of their displacement. As a result they may be shy to talk, or respond to you in unexpected ways. How do you as a youth worker, educator or community member receive these youth and their stories - stories that are often very present in young people's lives? What can we learn about youth from these stories?
My name is .... Stories and art by young refugees in Minnesota schools is a compilation of stories told and illustrated by Minnesota youth about their displacement and refugee experiences. The stories are first-hand accounts of young people who have been through trauma who are looking back and remembering. This project, produced by the Center for Victims of Torture in 2005, continues to grow in relevance for youth workers and educators today.
The collection includes a guide for educators, with background information about the refugee experience. For example, the guide includes the common worries of family members who have been displaced, which is a helpful frame of reference for staff with a goal to engage and involve families in their youth programs. The number of youth refugees flowing into the U.S., as tracked by Office of Immigration Statistics, continues to rise. Youth may or may not be prepared to share their stories as they settle in our communities. However, adults in youth programs can learn more about the refugee experience, and be more aware of how these impact youth and their families from this important collection.
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