Some anecdotes are harrowing.
A few years ago, refugee students were encouraged to take part in a quilting project, creating a square depicting their home country. Aiham Taliv, a refugee from Iraq, prepared an illustration of his village — while, overhead, a helicopter opened fire. The quilt, including Taliv’s illustration, went on public display.
“We’re wanting (the community) to understand what their kids’ lives were like. … But it’s also a healing process for these kids,” said Bill Brulotte, the local school district’s federal programs director.
Other anecdotes are whimsical. Such as the story about a student at a school birthday party, who wasn’t sure how to peel the paper off a cupcake. Or the story about a student, seeing a classroom with electricity for the first time, who just kept flicking the classroom light on and off, “just because it was pretty cool and exciting,” said Khrista Buschhorn, an instructional coach who works with English language learners.