The Hidden Scars all Refugees Carry

Hello colleagues, Viet Thanh Nguyen's book The Sympathizer won this year's Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The book highlights the lives of refugees. I'm eager to read it. 

On September 2, Nguyen published an op ed in the New York Times on the plight of refugees, "The Hidden Scars all Refugees Carry." For those who have been serving refugees, please share your reactions to Nguyen's piece as well as the challenges and the successes you are seeing in your important work.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, AELL CoP



Another book written by a refugee is called Of Beetles and Angels. Mawi Asgedom, a member of a family served by World Relief and their family literacy program, who eventually graduated from Harvard. Born in Ethiopia, he arrived in the United States in1983 when he was seven years old. His TEDx talk on Immigration is inspiring and his book is a great story.   

I'd love to hear practitioners share their experiences and stories as well.



Susan, thanks for pointing out this op ed piece, and sharing Viet Thanh Nguyen with us. I thought his piece was beautifully written and important. His description of not liking milk because of an experience on the barge escaping from Vietnam, and his observation that "Perhaps this is how history becomes imprinted in the body, how fear becomes a reflex, how memory becomes a matter of taste and feeling" struck a chord with me. I had so many refugees in my classes over the years, some frequently on the edge of tears or terribly depressed, and others seeming so well-adjusted that it was hard to imagine the difficulties they had faced. I don't think I was always good at remembering that they all shared some very traumatic experiences. I didn't always understand the ways that feelings were expressed. Sometimes a person would laugh when recounting a tragic event, maybe as a way of not being overwhelmed by sadness. It's good to be reminded, as we have a new stream of refugees coming from Syria, that the surface may show nothing of what lies underneath.