Clearinghouse Resource


A New Day: Refugee Families in the United States


Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)


Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)

Source Information (Journal Title, Date, Length)

2006, pages

Description of Resource

Illustrates the challenges facing new refugee families as they adjust to the realities of living in the United States, by using a short video with scenes and conversations from their daily life. Families from Burma, Somalia, Liberia, Iran, Armenia, and Russia describe the oppression, violence, and fear they faced in their native countries. Each family expresses a tremendous desire to improve their children's lives by taking advantage of educational and economic opportunities. Yet, one man describes life in America as "better, but difficult". Resettlement professionals discuss the stress caused by changing roles that upset the traditional balance of power in the family, such as when the wife becomes the bread winner or the children learn English quickly and become translators for their elders. Learning to speak English is a dominant topic, and scenes from English as a Second Language classes are included. Teens emphasize that knowledge of the language is the key to academic and social success. Different Western parenting approaches, especially in the areas of discipline and physical punishment, as well as tolerance of clothing and hair style trends, are explained. The clash between the image of American life and the reality - with many refugees living in low-income neighborhoods with high crime rates - can be disheartening, but the families remain confident that their choices were correct and hold dreams for their future generations. (IP-CW)