City Lights in conjunction with Refugee and Immigrant Transitions and a Consortium of Departments at the University of San Francisco present
Sarah Dryden-Peterson in conversation with Monisha Bajaj and Esther Elonga
in a panel discussion exploring
Right Where We Belong: How Refugee Teachers and Students Are Changing the Future of Education
by Sarah Dryden-Peterson
published by Harvard University Press
Sarah Dryden-Peterson, a leading expert in education, shows how, by learning from refugee teachers and students, we can create for displaced children—and indeed all children—better schooling and brighter futures.
Half of the world’s 26 million refugees are children. Their formal education is disrupted, and their lives are too often dominated by exclusion and uncertainty about what the future holds. Even kids who have the opportunity to attend school face enormous challenges, as they struggle to integrate into unfamiliar societies and educational environments.
In Right Where We Belong, Sarah Dryden-Peterson discovers that, where governments and international agencies have been stymied, refugee teachers and students themselves are leading. From open-air classrooms in Uganda to the hallways of high schools in Maine, new visions for refugee education are emerging. Dryden-Peterson introduces us to people like Jacques—a teacher who created a school for his fellow Congolese refugees in defiance of local laws—and Hassan, a Somali refugee navigating the social world of the American teenager. Drawing on more than 600 interviews in twenty-three countries, Dryden-Peterson shows how teachers and students are experimenting with flexible forms of learning. Rather than adopt the unrealistic notion that all will soon return to “normal,” these schools embrace unfamiliarity, develop students’ adaptiveness, and demonstrate how children, teachers, and community members can build supportive relationships across lines of difference.
It turns out that policymakers, activists, and educators have a lot to learn from displaced children and teachers. Their stories point the way to better futures for refugee students and inspire us to reimagine education broadly, so that children everywhere are better prepared to thrive in a diverse and unpredictable world.
Sarah Dryden-Peterson is Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is the founder and director of REACH, which promotes research, education, and action for refugees. In addition to her university teaching, she has taught in primary and secondary schools in the United States, South Africa, and Madagascar.
Monisha Bajaj is Professor of International and Multicultural Education (IME) at the University of San Francisco. She is the editor and author of several books and numerous articles on international development and education policy; peace and human rights education; migration and education; gender; race and xenophobia; and environmental justice and education. Dr. Bajaj serves as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Human Rights Education and, along with Maria Hantzopoulos, she edits a book series on Peace and Human Rights Education for Bloomsbury. Dr. Bajaj has developed curriculum—particularly related to peace education, human rights, anti-bullying efforts, ethnic studies, and sustainability—for non-profit organizations like Global Kids, and inter-governmental organizations, such as UNICEF and UNESCO.
Esther Elonga is an MD/PhD Candidate at Stanford University School of Medicine. She is a former refugee who received part of her education in Uganda and part in the U.S. She works extensively with the local refugee community. Esther Elonga is a former student of Sarah Dryden-Peterson.
Refugee & Immigrant Transitions (RIT), formerly Refugee Transitions, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit operating in the San Francisco Bay Area. RIT provides free education, family engagement, and community leadership programs. Our students have sought refuge due to war, violence, persecution, or economic duress. Their agency was founded in 1982 as the Refugee Women’s Program. Their mission is to welcome and partner with those who have sought refuge, employing strengths-based educational approaches and community supports so they may thrive in our shared communities. To learn more visit their website: https://www.reftrans.org
This event has been made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation