Resource: Refugee Backgrounders

By Mary Ann Zehr — July 24, 2007 1 min read
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I’m in danger of doing nothing in the next hour but reading a profile of Meskhetian Turks published by the Cultural Orientation Resource Center of the Center for Applied Linguistics. That profile and other shorter “Refugee Backgrounders” contain fascinating information about the history and culture of selected groups of people--such as Banyamulenge Tutsi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who have been resettled in the United States this year and who I’ve never heard of. The profiles are a great resource for educators who are receiving these children in schools. I just learned about the reports through the Center for Applied Linguistics’ newsletter.

I met a couple of Meskhetian Turks in the Harrisonburg, Va., schools this winter, which piqued my interest in their culture and resettlement experience in this country. According to the profile, from 2004 to mid 2006, 9,000 Meskhetian Turks from Russia were resettled in the United States, and 3,000 more were expected to be resettled here soon after that. The profile, written last year, talks about their educational history, such as how they were segregated into inferior schools in some villages in Russia, and their expectations for schooling in the United States. Some parents, for example, have been disappointed with the lack of rigor in their children’s schools in the United States.

On a deeper level, the profile helped me to feel compassion for the Meskhetian Turks because of their history of facing discrimination and harsh treatment. I hope that they are feeling welcome in U.S. communities and schools.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.