In a wonderful series, Little Bill Clinton: A School Year in the Life of a New American, the Christian Science Monitor followed an African refugee family whose sons attend Atlanta’s International Community School.
Bill Clinton Hadam, now 11, and brother Igey, 9, are Americanizing new arrivals from the refugee camp they left in 2006, reports the Monitor. A star on the soccer field, Bill qualified for Georgia’s Olympic Development Team.
In Mkugwa, soccer had been his passion, played with balls he made himself, out of plastic bags and twine. In Georgia, even before he spoke enough English to participate in class, he joined a soccer team at school. Shell Ramirez, the mom who directed the program, spotted Bill’s talent and persuaded the local Y to give him a scholarship to play on its team. American parents and coaches quickly “adopted” the shy African, buying him balls, cleats, and other gear, and shuttling him to practices and tournaments.
If Bill plays well enough to stay on the state soccer team, he may not make the Olympics or the World Cup, but he’s sure of earning a college scholarship in soccer.
His younger brother is thriving too.
Every November, Igey and Bill’s school holds a parade on United Nations Day. It’s a bright, noisy, tear-jerker of a celebration, where students dress in traditional costumes and walk behind the flags of the countries where they were born – or countries of their choice. In first grade, when Igey was learning about his past, he walked with the group with the Tanzanian flag; in second, in honor of his dad, he represented Congo. This year, he was nowhere to be seen; it looked as if he might have missed school. Then, as the end of the parade was winding its way toward the crowd of shivering parents, Igey appeared, in his little gray hoodie, and strutted across the parking lot, holding up one side of a big American flag.