Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Our Immigration Narratives

The middle school students who wrote these have been in the United States between one month and one year.  Some studied English in their countries. Most are refugees, and most have lived in more than one country before arriving in Texas.  One speaks four languages. One has never seen his "native" country and never lived outside a refugee camp until June. The amount of editing that has been done is minimal, but all did have both a peer editor and some editing and revising with me or one of the volunteers.  In some cases the name of a city has changed, and no student names appear.


In Sudan when i 11 all old i go to school every day and when i school in the morning i took my brother every day with me when i come back to home i eat and i sleep and then i go to play with friend  we play every day after school we like to play challenge after we finish the home works and then i check out home i go to play with my brothers we play games the name of the games is jamb and jamb.

I played here every day but people were fighting with guns.


i go ethiopia bucase my dad he don,t had good work in sudan in sudan is so hot this way he live to ethiopia there is not hot you play every time in ethiopia i don,t had friend i can,t go out said my home to play  but i like it.  i didn’t go to school because we were there 3 months.
austin. welcome to america
when i come  america i don't know where i am when i come to school .i don had freind  and they lafin to me. i don no why because i didn’t spike english .  this yer is beder is not like sudan because in sudan i don,t spike English .  8 in eight grate i can spike english little big but in now i had a meny freind. 


I was Born in iraq. I lived in iraq for 11 years before I moved. Because of  the war in Baghdad  my family and I moved to Turkey.  Turkey is a good country, but some of my peer in school said to me: ”why you come to turkey, go to another country?“ and theirs no jobs for my turkey. we lived in turkey 2 yares.
I was 13 wahen imove to U.S.A my mome got  a job and I come to a   new school i have a good friends and i live my school and U.S.A is good..
I like U.S Because good for my parents now have jobs.and It's good life.


Iwas born in Rwanda. I was born in Gihembe Refugee Camp.  My parents are from Congo.  They went to refugee camp because in Congo we have war.  We were eating rice and beans and tomatoes.
This is wood for a fire.
This was my school:
This is my hospital: they had some tablet medication
I came whith my family. I have 2 brother. I have 3 sister. my one brother stayed in rwanda. and my one sister stayed in rwanda she had two children. when I came in america I saw agood school it is murchison middle school.


i lived  in tikrit. i played with army. and my dad worked with army.and my mom cooked to army.
i lived in kirkuk because my family come to kirkuk. and i like because i have friend. i worked in kirkuk. i go to school. and i go7:00am. and i come 12:00pm somtime i go 12:00pm. and i come 3:00pm.  i werk. i cuting the tomato in the resdarunt,

austin when i cme U.S.A. i not speac ehalish. and i stay two day  and  i fard feiend. hes name basil. he speacs arabic. when i was come to school i don’t no every think because i not speac english. and i dont like school.
Now i like my school. i speacs english. I play with Z__ at the tennis court.


My mom, my sister and I are from Congo. (DRC)  I was born in Congo. I lived there 1 year.  My family left Congo when I was a baby. In Congo police shoot guns.

    We went to Burundi.  My mom carey things and my sister carey me.

I lived in a refugee camp. No police shoot.  All people were refugees.  I went to school. You go school your mom give teacher money.  No money you no go school. Your mom go to the store you stay home, stay home.

    America.  Here it’s good.  People said go America, is good. All of it food. Here me go with mom to store. I like my school because not cost money. Teacher say, “You write this. You no write this one.” Teacher help you.


     I’m born in Iraq, When i was 10 years old there were a lot of gangs  in my city and  they killed the people. Then, when my dad was a ____ in a hospital and in medication store thet day, The gang put a gun to his head and told him, “Leave this hospital, and  because you are good person and always help the people we will not kill you, but if you will stay here we will kill you”. Then he said, “ok i’ll leave it”. Then when he came back to the home our neighbor told my dad, “The gang will came tomorrow and kill your sans leave this city now!” My dad was very confused, He didn’t know what he should do. My mam said. we’ll leave. Then we went to Diyala(ديالى) in the east of Iraq we stayed about 2 weeks then we went back to Baghdad(The capital of Iraq,بغداد). Next we traveled to syria(سوريا). My aunt was living in Damascus,She invited us to live in same apartment and share the rent. And we stayed in syria not a long time, about 6 or 7 month only. we was happy there because it’s Arabic nation so all the there are Arabian. I liked syria because i get syrian friends and every day played in a  street and we always visited goat farm it’s near our street. And i visited a historic and famous mosques and museums, like ِAl-Sayeda Zeinab mosque(جامع السيدة زينب) it’s was very beautiful and very big.
     I saw  a islamic history in syria. And i went to  other cities  in syria, like Reaf Damascus(ريف دمشق) Halap(حلب). i've a lot of  pictures for different places took by our camira. but also we have to go back to iraq , to begin with the school and back to my dad and mam job. Next we went back to Iraq but we changed our home to another area it’s have more safe, Then we get nice life and we stay in this area about 6 years, but in next year  another war started with Isis (داعش)  and the Isis was far my home about 2 hours. every day i heard the tatatat(طلقات),And then we chosed travel to live in USA.
In may/20 my dad get call and someone said you will arrive to Austin in john/1. we have only 10 days we was very confused because only 10 days to get ready for new life !. Then we went to Jordan(الاردن) and next we arrived to Austin, And my brother welcomed US. And now we are good with our new new life. But we want to change the  apartment because it’s so small. Must people saying the life in US it”s easy and if you get work you will get a lot of money. That is not correct. The life in America it's difficult but if you speak English you will be ok, because that is helpful. Finally: I hope to get a good future.

picture from places i visited it
Diyala ديالى
Damascus دمشق

Al Sayyeda Zainab Mosque
جامع السيدة زينب

Austin أوستن


I was born in Kabul Afghanistan
Schools are not gender mix. My school was only for girls.
When I was 13, my family and I left Afghanistan and move to Austin, Texas. I have lived in Austin for 11 months.
I am  learning English, but before that I was nervous because in Texas they only speak English. I didn’t understand anything.
I miss my relatives. I was sad because I said goodbye to my family and friends.
Last year, I didn’t have any friends here in Austin.  I was scare to come to Texas. Sometimes I am homesick. However,  I am excited to learn english. Texas weather is hot, in comparison to Afghanistan where the weather is mostly cold.
I like North America!.


I Was born in my country. and I draw my home is so big. and men comed stole my furniture . and I left in Iraq .and moved  to syria .  Syria there were no jobs , I Lived in syria for 2 years . and I Moved To U.S.A .
I Live in .U.S.A. 10 month . I love my school and I am so Happy in American and I love my school because it is so Easy and . I understin English .and  Iso Happy in  Why Happy in U.S.A. because I Help my family . and in school I love my friend I love my friend [insert six names here]. This is my friend and Why coming in the U.S because in Iraq it’s NO jobs in my country and the people in Iraq Die and in here Love anything the school and the anything  

For my family:      
my father my dad 40 years Old  work [local hotel] housekeeping and my mom it’s  31 years Old  . she it’s NOT working  and my brother 11 years Old in school [name of elementary school near us] and my brother 6 years Old in the same School and I Don’t Have sister … and I am Here 11 Month …. 
This is Syria.
This is Baghdad, Iraq.
This is USA. Downtown Austin.


  1. Fascinating stories! Tell your students how much I admire them for learning English so quickly! I don't think I would do nearly as well if I were forced to move to another country with a new language and new script!

  2. I also love reading their stories--every word! Please encourage them to keep writing, if even about a short moment...Is there some way to respond to each student's writing? I'd volunteer to write back to each one if there was a way!! The students are learning so much!

    1. Thank you!
      Thank you for your kind words. They will all have a full writing class again next year, and we encourage writing daily in many classes.

      I can't give you their email addresses, but if you leave a note here, I will get the comments to them.

    2. Great! On some of the stories, there is a place for me to comment. Then on others, they are grouped and I can't respond to each writer. They are coming along fantastically! I saved the link to a Holocaust blog that I participated in with some middle schoolers from Illinois a couple of years ago. It was an amazing interaction with kids and trustworthy adults from all around the US!
      Here is the address:
      Check it out and see what you think! Meanwhile I LOVE that you set your own up!! This is great!

  3. I also love reading their stories--every word! Please encourage them to keep writing, if even about a short moment...Is there some way to respond to each student's writing? I'd volunteer to write back to each one if there was a way!! The students are learning so much!

  4. Thank you Betsy for sharing your student's stories. I will have my students read them too. Living in Japan, we just hear of war and refugees in the newspaper; your student's stories makes it real to us. I'm happy to read they are safe and happy now, working hard for their futures. Keep on the studies! May peace come to their home countries.

    1. Thank you for sharing them.

      (These are some of the same kids you met via Skype a year ago who were still learning the colors and numbers.)