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Refugee Stories | A Project by the 2019 ENGL119SL Class

(Refugee) Children's Stories

A collaborative project by the Spring 2019 English 119 service-learning class at the University of California, Los Angeles

 Designed and Taught by Professor Erica Weaver

About Our Community Partners

Our Mission & Vision

Who we are

We are undergraduate students at the University of California, Los Angeles and members of Professor Weaver’s English 119 Service Learning course, “Refugee Literature Then and Now,” which combines reading assignments, discussions, and hands-on experience to give students a better insight into the lives of refugees and asylum seekers. Throughout spring quarter 2019, we have been volunteering at various organizations in the greater Los Angeles area: The California-Pacific Neighborhood Immigration Clinic (Cal-Pac NIC), Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), Coalition for Humane Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), International Rescue Committee (IRC), PARS Equality Center, and San Fernando Valley Refugee Children Center (SFVRCC). With these in-class and out-of-the-classroom experiences, we have collected content to create a book for the SFVRCC in order to raise awareness for the refugee cause.

About the Course

Over sixty-eight million people are currently displaced by violence and environmental destruction. This course focuses on their stories. Throughout the quarter, we volunteered with community organizations in greater Los Angeles to support recently resettled refugees as well as immigrant rights more broadly. At the same time, we read contemporary stories of exile and migration alongside nineteenth-century slave narratives and medieval accounts, pushing back at the notion that there has ever been a nation “apart.” Much medieval English literature was resolutely engaged with enduring questions of displacement and hospitality, while ongoing projects like Refugee Tales evoke a deep archive of Anglophone writing by and about asylum seekers. Authors include Gloria Anzaldúa, Hannah Arendt, Geoffrey Chaucer, Edwidge Danticat, Harriet Jacobs, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Ocean Vuong as well as several anonymous medieval poets. Community-engaged learning integrates significant community work (3 hours volunteering with a pre-approved off-campus community organization for Weeks 3–9 of the course) with regular reading, writing, and reflection to deepen the learning experience.

"But all of us, sorrowing, stripped of our prized possession, / must wander foreign paths now our lord has laid aside all laughter, / all gladness, all joy. Our hands will grasp for spear-shafts cold / in morning chill; no harp will resound to awaken us, but the raven, / swooping eagerly towards the stinking battlefield will tell the eagle / how it fought with wolves for our carrion, how it fared at the feast" (105).

Beowulf, translated by Meghan Purvis