As one gets older, the thrill of annual check-ups seem to lose its grip. My husband is a big health advocate and has greatly encouraged healthy choices in our family. When he was a practicing Veterinary Nutritionist at the Dallas Zoo, we were homeschooling at that time and learned a lot about making healthy choices. As our daughters have grown into young adults, they have embraced a balanced healthy lifestyle in eating and exercise to be good stewards of their health. Yesterday, I gave myself an early gift this year of getting my annual health check up. The long wait in the doctor’s office, gave me the chance to read up on some vital information on Refugees. It was an eye-opening read-up moment!
Our team is preparing to host the first Refugee conference for Texas teachers. We all have our thinking caps on and reading up on research upon research in addition to the course load for my dissertation/record of study. Despite the fact that I had the opportunity to conduct research among Refugees, I was not cognizant of the drastic change a year had made in the “world of Refugees” here in the U.S. The research on literacy among Refugees was completed last year summer and accompanying manuscript submitted for publication. My first eye-opening experience from my “read-up” in that doctor’s waiting room yesterday, was the change in demographics- Texas is now the leading state in U.S. for Refugee arrivals. That spot had been reserved for the state of California for some time. In fact California leads the nation in the number of English Language Learners and steadily maintains that rank.
Texas as a leading state for Refugee arrivals means a lot not only for our educational system, but for our entire community at large. It means we have the opportunity to engage Refugee families in their resettlement efforts. It means as Texans, our “hospitality” has been noticed by Refugee families around the world that we are a welcoming community that helps to make resettlement a smooth transition for our Refugees. By the way, in preparing and networking with state, national and international organizations, I found out that many people are not aware who a Refugee is. According to Section 101 (a) 42 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) based on the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocols relating to the Status of Refugees:
A refugee is a person who is unable or unwilling to return to the their home country because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin.
So as we prepare for the April conference, there are many “read-up moments” in the horizon to know more about these precious families who are champions of life and survivors. Getting to work with Refugees, have been one of the greatest opportunities God has entrusted to me to serve His people. The more, I learn about Refugees, the more my heart is enlarged to empower our educators in working with Refugee children and families as they come through our school doors. In case you haven’t had a chance to read-up on the research on Refugees and literacy, you may do so by visiting the Texas Council of Women School Executives website. The research manuscript is published in the current issue of their peer-reviewed scholarly journal. http://www.tcwse.org/jtwse/vol2/vol2.pdf
“Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people – your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way” – Mrs. Barbara Bush