A beautiful day with Youth Group and Tower Hill Botanic Garden cooking with fresh ingredients and walking the grounds!
that north is north. How,
when I look at a map of the world, do I decide
which puzzled shape is
home? And in the picture
book I gave him about pharaohs, how
can pyramids date back four-thousand years
if all the years we count, each time
we write the date, are two-thousand
My student is 27, or 25, or 29—he does not know
for sure. He does not know
of dinosaurs or Darwin, of Santa or satellites or germs
or genes, of how his daughter can look not like him and not
like his wife, but like the returned spirit
of his father, killed
by army bullets many harvests past, when
farmers in his village stood accused
of sharing rice with rebel troops.
But he knows
how to ride a water buffalo,
how to find the best bamboo,
how to cut it, carry it, transform it
into walls and floor and roof to last
three rainy seasons.
He knows how to spear a fish,
how to shroud the dead.
He knows how to speak the language of his people,
and the language of the government his people fled,
and the language of the refugee camp
where he grew from boyhood into marriage.
He knows how to write
of each of these, which mattered little, before now,
because no one else he knew had ever needed
And now, in his new American home,
he has learned to read
a third grade book
and to drive a car,
to walk in snow,
to use lightbulbs, laptops, house keys.
He's learned how to live with a silent tongue
in this book-rich land
whose people carry Moses, Medusa, Mars, and
the moon as lightly
as pennies in their pockets.
He's learned how to stack parcels
all night for FedEx, and go to classes
in the day, and to keep
going, day after day, knowing
he has entered a life enormously full
of words that point
in the world he thought he knew, holes
through which he still can hope
to someday slip
into another life, easier
This poem was originally posted by Off the Coast, fall 2015.
If you were that woman, sitting
every Friday in the public library, one week working
through the who and how and why
of simple questions whispering from your tutor’s lips,
the next week learning price and pay and sale and save
and How much does it cost?--
if you were that woman,
then you, too,
would ask for repetition of bag and back and bank,
of leave and leaf and left and live,
and you would struggle to produce the English sounds
that held the meanings you still held
inside your head: the dappled murmuring of leaves
outside your childhood home, the trees
full of sweet yellow fruit you could not name in this new life,
the lives you left so you could live,
and as you moved your lips in all the unfamiliar ways
to make the sounds your tutor made, she would nod
and you would smile, but you would never
write, for you’d not yet know how
to form or read those fast, firm letters you watched pouring from her hand,
and so you’d have no way to store what you had learned
except in memory and hope,
alongside memories of why you’d never needed written words
in your native world, where your mother had taught you all the skills
of planting and harvesting and weaving and singing that you would ever need
for living in a lush, good place,
and alongside memories
of gunfire echoing beyond the trees,
of rebels begging for or stealing food,
of soldiers from some distant city standing in your
village, barking about loyalty
and able-bodied men,
and then the memories
of jungle paths for five long nights,
of sharing food and whispered hope with others who had dared
and the memories of the daughter and the son, both
born and grown high as your eye in the refugee camp on the border.
The English words would nestle in amidst
get lost, be found again, and you would have to try
to pull them out but leave the rest behind, try
to let the new sounds tell you
not only the hard-edged names and places
of this brick and concrete life,
but also how to live in it:
how to take
a city bus, how to
and you would sit again, again, again
in a mauve chair at a round table in the library,
amidst the shelves and worlds
struggling with your who and how and why,
and you would not allow yourself
to figure how much it had cost
or how much you still had to pay.
You would just smile and thank your tutor,
and come back
This poem was originally published in The Worcester Review, Volume 34, 2013.
On 2/25/17, WRAP Youth Group visited Tower Hill Botanic Garden and were given a tour with the help of Alice and Kirsten from Tower Hill. We spent some time sketching plants and flowers and hiking a trail through the gardens. The Youth had so much fun reconnecting with nature!
This year marks the end of high school for three of our youth group members. Evelyn is moving on to Rhode Island College as part of the psychology program with the intentions of becoming a counselor. Hey Reh is starting off at Quinsigamond Community College to begin working toward becoming a Registered Nurse. Bu Reh will be attending Westfield State University. We are all excited to see what great things lie ahead for each of our graduates!
Please congratulate each of our graduates and wish them well in this next adventure!!
Congratulations, Eh Doh! Freshman of the Year in Carpentry at Worcester Technical High School. Way to go! We are so proud of you.
Check out these pics from the event today at Worcester's First Unitarian Church. A great event for all! Well done to the youth for their courage to share their stories.
WRAP youth had their first session selling their art work at the Worcester Art Museum Art Market on Saturday 8/16 and it went very well. The WRAP youth will be there Saturday 8/23 and Saturday 9/6, as well. Check out some of the amazing art works below and stop by to visit their stall.
The WRAP youth group currently has around 18 members aged 12-20 who meet on Saturday afternoons to discuss issues of health, leadership, goal-setting and more. Each youth helps the refugee community through a variety of ways, translation services, homework help, volunteering at events and more. The youth group also explores different activities such as yoga, wall-climbing, boxing, dance, bowling, and baseball