Going Beyond a Single Story: Experiences and Education of Refugee Children at Home, in School, and in the Community

X. Christine Wang, Ekaterina Strekalova-Hughes & Hyonsuk Cho
Date of Publication: 
January, 2019
Source Organization: 

One of us (Wang) recently attended a talk by Viet Thanh Nguyen, the Vietnamese American author of The Refugees and The Sympathizer and a Pulitzer winner and 2017 MacArthur Foundation Fellow. He shared his own experience as a refugee and emphasized the importance of understanding refugees’ experiences, their voices, and their perspectives. He joked that the New York Times book review got it wrong when it praised his works for giving “voice to the voiceless” and noted, “Have you been to a Vietnamese community? We are loud! You just have not been listening!”

The intention of this themed special issue is to listen and to capture the complexity of refugee children’s1 lived experiences and their education at home, in school, and in the community. There is an unprecedented refugee crisis around the world. Among the 22.5 million refugees, one half are children younger than age 18 (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR], 2017). Although the world is identifying solutions for this crisis, nationalistic backlashes against refugees are also heating up across the globe. Against this backdrop, the important issues of understanding refugee children’s experiences and their education in different settings (e.g., refugee camps, postresettlement communities, schools, and homes) and how to support them are often left out of the debate. The limited education literature on refugee children tends to focus overly on trauma, needs, academic struggles, and poor socioemotional skills, thus perpetuating a deficit model and negative narratives. This themed special issue aims to move beyond such a single narrative and toward ones about refugee children’s agentive experience and about educational solutions and opportunities at home, in school, and in the community.

The response to our initial Call for Papers was overwhelmingly positive. Although we received many submissions, space limitations only allow us to include 10 articles. We would like to thank the authors who submitted their manuscripts. We would also like to thank the reviewers for generously volunteering their time and expertise. Without their support, this special issue would not have been possible. In this introduction, we address the following three topics: providing an overview of the context for this special issue, introducing the articles in this volume, and identifying important areas and issues that need continued research.

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Wang, X. C., Strekalova-Hughes, E., & Cho, H. (2019). Going beyond a single story: Experiences and education of refugee children at home, in school, and in the community. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 33(1). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/02568543.2018.1531670