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student stories

Arpan is a Bhutanese refugee and youth leader. He was born in a refugee camp in Nepal and lived there for 16 years. In 2008, he and his family were resettled in Oakland, CA. 

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Bridging Refugee Youth and Children Services
Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS) provides national technical assistance to organizations serving refugees and immigrants so that all newcomer children and youth can reach their potential.

Center for Applied Linguistics' Cultural Orientation Resource Center
Provides cultural background on refugee populations and training materials for cultural orientation.

Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees
This document includes the texts of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and Resolution 2198 (XXI) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

International Rescue Committee
Provides information on national and local resettlement, as well as on the global crises around the world forcing people out of their homes.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) provides people in need with critical resources to assist them in becoming integrated members of American society.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement-Arrival Data
The ORR documents all refugee arrivals by country of origin and state of initial resettlement.  View statistics for California and other states here.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Annual Flow Report: Refugees and Asylees
This report presents information on the number and characteristics of persons admitted as refugees or granted asylum to the United States.  Click on the link above to find the Flow Report for the most recent fiscal year.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Yearbook of Immigration Statistics
The Yearbook of Immigration Statistics is a compendium of tables that provides data on foreign nationals who, during a fiscal year, were granted lawful permanent residence (i.e., admitted as immigrants or became legal permanent residents), were admitted into the United States on a temporary basis (e.g., tourists, students, or workers), applied for asylum or refugee status, or were naturalized. The Yearbook also presents data on immigration law enforcement actions, including alien apprehensions, removals, and prosecutions.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
An extensive, well-planned site with information about the hardships refugees face. Contains country-specific and general information. A must-see for anyone who wants to understand and learn from refugees.


Out of Exile by Craig Walzer, Dave Eggers, and Valentino Achak Deng
A collection of personal narratives of the Sudanese diaspora around the globe today.

Perfume Dreams by Andrew Lam and Richard Rodriguez
A collection of essays from a local Bay Area writer about his Vietnamese heritage and his struggles with his identity and personal history as a Vietnamese-American.

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
Author Tracy Kidder tells the story of Deo, who grew up in the mountains of Burundi, and survived a civil war and genocide before seeking a new life in America. In New York City he lived homeless in Central Park before finding his way to Columbia University.

The Inner World of the Immigrant Child by Cristina Igoa
In this book, Hayward Unified School District teacher Cristina Igoa writes about the transition process of immigrant ESL students, particularly as they related to academic and social emotional development. Using case studies and the individual stories, in images and words, of her students, Igoa provides extremely helpful and practical information, activities, research findings and tips for working with immigrant children.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir, a young boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, who betrayed his best friend Hassan, the son of his father's Hazara servant, and lives in regret. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan through the Soviet invasion, the mass exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime.

The Middle of Everywhere by Mary Pipher
Psychologist Mary Pipher writes about the struggles of refugee families as they rebuild their lives in the U.S. Into her narrative, she weaves case studies of refugees with whom she has worked in schools and social services agencies.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
A beautifully written book that chronicles the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy.

What is the What by Dave Eggers
A novel based on a true story about a Sudanese refugee's journey from war-torn Sudan to a refugee camp in Kenya and finally to a new life in Atlanta as a refugee. This book provides a good picture of the adjustment process and  refugees face in adjusting and building their new life.


Against Wind and Tide: A Cuban Odyssey
In Spring 1980, Fidel Castro opened the Cuban port of Mariel to thousands of refugees to cross to Key West, Florida and the promise of a new life in the U.S. Director Jim Burroughs and his crew boarded a flotilla vessel bound for Mariel to film the exodus. Burroughs charts the lives of three individuals during their first years in the U.S.

Don't Fence Me In
"Don't Fence Me In" chronicles the life of 70-year-old Burmese freedom fighter Major Mary On and her people's struggle for self-determination. Mary explains how the Karen people are fighting for their very survival.

God Grew Tired of Us
Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, this film explores the indomitable spirit of three “Lost Boys” from the Sudan who leave their homeland, triumph over seemingly insurmountable adversities and move to America, where they build active and fulfilling new lives but remain deeply committed to helping the friends and family they have left behind.

Lost Boys of Sudan
"Lost Boys of Sudan" is an Emmy-nominated feature-length documentary that follows two Sudanese refugees on an extraordinary journey from Africa to America.

Sentenced Home
Putting a human face on controversial immigration policy, "Sentenced Home" follows three young Cambodian Americans through the deportation process. Raised in inner city Seattle, they pay an unbearable price for mistakes they made as teenagers. Caught between their tragic pasts and an uncertain future, each young man confronts a legal system that offers no second chances.

Shadow Over Tibet: Stories in Exile
This film is a personalized account of Tibetan refugees attempting to maintain their ancient culture in exile while using nonviolent means to bring peace and freedom to their homeland. "Shadow Over Tibet" investigates the personal odyssey of Norbu Samphell, a Tibetan immigrant now living in the U.S., who is determined to become part of the American social fabric without abandoning his cultural heritage; and the Dalai Lama, religious and secular leader of Tibet‐in‐exile, who seeks to create a "zone of peace" in Tibet.

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars
"Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars" are a band of six Sierra Leonean musicians who came together to form a band while living in a refugee camp in Guinea. Many of their family and friends were murdered in the war, leaving each of them with physical and emotional scars that may never heal. Despite the unimaginable horrors of civil war, they were saved and brought hope and happiness to their fellow refugees through their music. This film chronicles the band over three years, from Guinean refugee camps back to war-ravaged Sierra Leone, where they realize the dream of recording their first studio album.

The Other Side of Immigration
Based on over 700 interviews in Mexican towns where about half the population has left to work in the United States, "The Other Side of Immigration" asks why so many Mexicans come to the U.S. and what happens to the families and communities they leave behind.

For more suggestions, please check out the International Rescue Committee's extensive list here