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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Refuge, friendship and hope

In The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom, journalist Helen Thorpe describes the progress of newly arrived teens at Denver’s South High.


mmigrants from Mozambique, Vietnam, Burma, Eritrea, El Salvador, Mexico, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bhutan, Tajikistan and Mauritania, “most had little or no facility with English, and most had no one else in the classroom who could speak their native language,” writes Sharon Peters in a USA Today review.

Eddie Williams, an English Language Acquisition teacher at South High, works to help students prepare for mainstream classrooms.

The book is “extraordinary,” writes Sandra Dallas in the Denver Post.

Most newcomer students live in abject poverty. They “spend hours each day just getting to school and are sometimes harassed and told to go back to where they came from,” writes Dallas. While a few want to return home, most “work hard to become Americans — to learn English, complete high school, and find good jobs.”

Longreads and Chalkbeat have excerpts from the book.

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