School has already started, or will be starting shortly in the northern hemisphere, and educators are thinking about how to prepare for another school year in the southern hemisphere. The Charter wants to help in both cases. While we might refer to this newsletter as a SPECIAL EDUCATION ISSUE, it is more than that--it is for everyone--no matter your age.
Before we go into some new happenings in education that the Charter is planning, it seems this is a good time to re-introduce you to material we have on our website and to ask you to consider some possible actions. Do you know we have a Charter for Compassionate Schools? Yes, we have, and you'll find it under the Education Sector of our website. Hundreds of schools and even school districts have signed the Charter and we hope that you too will spread the word. There is also a Children's Charter for Compassion for younger students with a link to activity books to support the teaching of compassion.
The Education Sector also has several annotated bibliographies: Teaching Children about Compassion, a list of recommended books for teachers and parents; Compassion Themed Books for Children Pre-school to Grade Five and another for Grades 6-12; and a special bibliography on The Best LGBT Children's Books and another on The Relationship between Compassion and Nature.
Another special feature located in the Education Sector is The Compassion Education Reader. The Compassion Education Reader is divided into topics that range in presentation from investigating compassion and other related skills (i.e., altruism, empathy, forgiveness, gratitude, happiness, integrity, justice, kindness, mindfulness, resilience, self-compassion, and responsibility), and finding ways that they can be applied to education, to reading about some of the latest research on the science of compassion.
Of utmost importance for parents, as well as teachers, are articles that relate directly to raising a responsible child. Also, there are two sections that speak to new ideas and theories about education. "Thinking about Education," provides background information and in most cases, video presentations on radical ("getting to the root") and transformational ideas for the classroom and beyond, from pre-school to graduate school, and within community-based settings. "Successful Education Models and Organizations" presents new approaches that are demonstrating some significant measure of success throughout the global community.
Announcing Our First Education Global Read: How Fast Can You Run
Join author Harriet Levin Millan and protagonist of How Fast Can You Run, Michael Majok Kuch, in a book discussion on February 22, 2017. Register here.
This is a tremendous opportunity to plan to read a book that Kirkus Review calls "A deeply felt novel of grace and intelligence." How Fast Can You Run will be released on October 26, 2016. If you are a teacher, assign the book for a class read or as a special project. If you are a Charter member of any age join the call. Link here for additional information and background and study guide material. Purchase How Fast Can You Run through Amazon: www.smile.amazon.com
and sign-up to support the Charter for Compassion International.
Set across a backdrop of refugee migration that spans Africa, America and Australia, How Fast Can You Run is the inspiring story of Michael Majok Kuch and his journey to find his mother. In 1988, Majok, as a five-year-old boy, fled his burning village in southern Sudan when the North systematically destroyed it, searching for John Garang, the South’s leader. Majok, along with thousands of other fleeing people, many of them unaccompanied minors, trekked through the wilderness in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya to arrive at a series of refugee camps where he would live for the next ten years. When the U.S. brokered an agreement, granting approximately 4,000 unaccompanied minors political asylum, Majok, now Michael, was given a new start in the U.S. Yet his new life was not without trauma. He faced prejudice once again, disrupting the promise of his new beginnings. This is a story of a survivor who in facing challenge after challenge summons the courageous spirit of millions of refugees throughout history and today.
Attending this year's Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference in Washington D.C. next week? Harvard Square Editions is excited to be presenting migrant novel author, Harriet Levin Millan, in conversation with authors Fabienne Joshaphat and Dina Elenbogen in a panel entitled, “When Writers Move In and Out of Their Countries and Genres,”
Friday, February 10th at 9 AM
in the Liberty Salon L, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level 4
What happens when poets delve into fiction and expand not only the borders of genre but their physical and emotional terrain? What explorations do they conduct in their attempt to resist limitations and cross cultural divides? The three panelists have among them written books set in Israel, South Sudan and Haiti. Come hear these practicing writers talk about what they have learned in their journey to overcome ascribed attitudes and identities.
HSE’s How Fast Can You Run
will be for sale on the Politics and Prose Book Fair table or reserve your copy here
, and don’t forget to sign up for How Fast Can You Run’s
Charter for Compassion Global Read that will take place on
Feb. 22 at 12 noon: for free registration, click here
It wasn’t an ordinary book launch. The real life characters I fictionalized in my novel based on the life of Michael Majok Kuch, How Fast Can You Run (Harvard Square Editions, October 28 2016) were in attendance.
I got the chills just looking around the room and seeing them. They included my protagonist, South Sudanese national, Michael Majok Kuch, his American parents, two of his former employers and several other friends and S. Sudanese immigrants. However, in order to write a compelling work of fiction, I needed to invent them as characters with different physical features, names and personalities than they had in real life. All good fiction is expressive of an imaginary realm of being, and that’s the great paradox. The more invention a writer can imbue into a scene, the more truth it holds.
The launch was held in Drexel University’s Pearlstein Gallery, 3401 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, PA concurrent with the gorgeous textile exhibit “Warp and Weft” by PEW Fellowship winner, Caroline Lathan-Stiefel. HavingHow Fast Can You Run’s real life protagonist and his friends in the room, helped the audience to experience how special it was for me to have worked with Michael. For three years we sat side by side on his couch while the afternoon light turned to dusk and I tape recorded his experiences. Afterward, I would go home, write a scene, come back the following week, show it to Michael to be certain that I did not make any historical errors, and if I did, revise it. I became a witness to Mike’s life. I learned how the UN dropped food bags from airplanes too close to the people running toward the food, which landed on several refugees and killed them. Or how boys in Kakuma Refugee Camp constructed soccer balls out of bloody surgical gloves wrapped in twine and covered in torn socks. These are details that no history book contains.
Drexel’s Africana Studies Director, Alden Young moderated the panel that both Michael and I participated in. When Dr. Young asked how the book came into being, I described the snowy January day that One Book, One Philadelphia’s director called me on the phone and invited me to choose ten of my undergraduate creative writing students to interview ten Sudanese refugees for a One Book writing project. These interviews were serialized in Philadelphia’s City Paper. Among the students who conducted the interviews was Deborah Yarchun now a rising playwright living in New York City. Michael was the first person we interviewed. Soon after, Michael, still a college student, asked me to write a book about his life. The moment I met him, I was overwhelmed by his brilliance and his buoyant spirit, which enabled him to overcome the trauma of fleeing his village in South Sudan at the age of five and live in various refugee camps for the next ten years before receiving political asylum to the US. So when he proposed that I write a book about his experiences, I jumped at the chance. Myself, a grandchild of refugees, I recognized the importance of telling Michael’s story so that it would not be forgotten the way my family’s history has been wiped out.
When Dr. Young asked how the book’s title got chosen, I explained that the reason Mike and I decided to title the book, How Fast Can You Run, was because we wanted people to stop seeing refugees as other and that we wanted people to understand that the unspeakable could occur at any moment to any one of us. At that point, Kuch explained how the book’s title particularly resonates with him.
“Being a refugee,” he said, “means having to always catch up.” Besides its references to fleeing, he described how the title portrays his feeling, once he came to the US in 2000 of trying to keep pace with the people around him and having to work extra hard to stay ahead.
Michael, who now works as a Research and Policy Advisor in the Office of the President in Juba, South Sudan, will be appearing with me on our book tour. We will be speaking at several other universities, schools, Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum, synagogues, book clubs and other organizations. Once Michael returns to South Sudan, Charter for Compassion will be sponsoring a Global Read via phone conference on Feb. 22, 2017 with the two of us. Besides the Drexel Panel, we will participate in a panel moderated by Dr. Derrick Kayango, CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta on November 17th at the Book Festival of the MJCCA.
We stopped sending people to S. Sudan on reunion trips when the new violence broke out. It just didn't seem conscionable to send people back to a war zone where anything could happen. Instead we used our funds to pay for the school tuition of an awardee's sister and also to pay money toward airfare of an awardee's mother to visit her in the US. I am so happy to say that this visit occurred only this week, (October 2016). The awardee and her mother were reunited after close to twenty-five years! Congratulations to the families involved. This is an overwhelming moment. Hearts filled to breaking and eyes welling with tears. Yet there is laughter too and joy.