In May, School’s Out Washington hosted two screenings of the film Starting Again, which follows four refugee youth as they go through the initial experiences of resettlement. The film, created several years ago, powerfully captures the challenges these youth and their families face as well as their resilience. The screenings provided a powerful starting point for discussion around how better to support these youth and others like them. Sixty people, including community members, educators, service providers, and youth and families, attended the first screening at Seattle’s Rainier Beach Library. After the film, several youth from Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) stood up to tell their stories, and listening to them, it was clear that these youth are America’s leaders of tomorrow. Their strength, resilience and desire to give back to and support their communities was profound. The audience asked the students questions, and the following discussion was a great demonstration of solidarity and support for refugee youth and their families in the community.
The Kent School District Refugee Transition Center held the second screening, and, again, around sixty participants, many educators from the local community, attended. Following the film, another panel of youth, including one of the young men from the film, answered questions raised in the film about challenges and what might have helped during that initial challenging, isolating phase of transition. Again, these young people were leaders, and the warmth and responsiveness of the educators was encouraging. The youth asked everyone to reach beyond themselves and find a way to invite refugees in, encouraging everyone to participate in cultural sharing that went beyond food and other surface areas, risking vulnerability and the possibility of making mistakes.
View the film on School’s Out Washington’s website: http://www.schoolsoutwashington.org/1260_194/StartingAgainStoriesofRefugeeYouth.htm.