“The newcomers” by Helen Thorpe

I am grateful that my paths came across that book, which full title sounds like “The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom”. In a few words it’s a brand new (published November, 2017 – just a few months ago) set of stories of our disturbed world. Stories of teenagers who had to start a new life in Denver, go to an American High school and quickly, very quickly learn English to adapt to their new lives.

You will see a parade of cultures and languages. You will observe classes of an amazing teacher who knows how to explain things and  how to do his job. I admire those lessons, it’s like peeking through the key hole, get access to classrooms you’d never dream to know about. In some way I was reading this book as a professional development tool, case study, whatever you call it. Learning new techniques, looking for ideas.

Out of school kids are getting back to their families, cultures and past. The past they cannot forget, cannot change and even cannot tell about. Well, we all heard about the refugee crisis, Middle East conflicts. But what can one say about the peacekeeping situation in Africa? Or, maybe, about South Est Asia and their problems? Not much in most cases. They are far, exotic, different and news obligingly inform us about big event, who would follow gangs in a remote African country you can’t find on a map? But still the conflict are on and people are trying to escape to better places.

The question I had in mind while reading was about the perception of American readers as the author, who happens to be a professional journalist, is not flattering at all when it comes to the current policy towards immigrants following the president elections. All in all it is a gift to read a book which stays so close to your time. The narration starts from August 2015 to the fall of 2016. You know it. You haven’t forgotten yet the debates about the president persona and the reaction to the voters’ choice. One year later we are used to the state of things but this book gives you a little flashback – involuntary you start recollecting your memories of that period of time.

If you ever wondered how quick one can absorb a language – you will learn the ways and how it works in detail;

If you ever wanted to learn a bit more about the life of immigrants – you will find answers to most of your questions.

If you believe that you’ll never come across any of the issues the book rises – maybe, you are right, but in our changing world no one can be sure.


Absolute must read for all people of education.

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