Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

I read this book over the past summer, and found myself discussing this book in my SEED class this month. While the book had little directly about education, it provides a lot of background knowledge of the experiences of asylum seekers.

On one level, you’ve got a book that puts a face on the struggles of asylum seekers. However, it might also make the struggles seem too big to solve. Here you have a country, Nigeria, that was supposedly peaceful, and yet you have some awful autrocracies occuring. Nigeria should be a country modernizing thanks to all oil, but instead that oil is leading to bloodshed and autrocracies.

Some might respond to this book by saying that the story is fictional and therefore some of scenes mentioned in the story are sensationalized. Some of the specific scenes might have been written to highlight certain aspects of each character, the situations in the story are all too real. Amnesty International has condemned the UK government for their detentions of asylum seekers. The violence in Nigeria is all too real.

As an educator, this book really encourages me to be more understanding of the asylum seekers in my own community. In Minnesota, we are fortunate to have large groups of Somalian and Hmong immigrants, many of whom immigrated to escape similar situations as that that little bee faced. When the families struggle to adapt to the American education system this book provides perspective on what all they have had to struggle with. They have decided to leave their home to provide a safe environment for their family. They very well might not have wanted to leave, but were forced to by the violence. It's up to me as an educator to make their school experience on that celebrates their cultural experiences while at the same time preparing them for their new life in the United States.

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