Anthology: Short Stories by Chin Refugees

IMG_8850There is a very caring, and active part of the ISKL community that facilitates the learning of those that may lack the opportunity. Our school is filled with kids who will dedicate their time and energy into helping others. Often times the efforts of these students go unnoticed. Anthology: Short Stories by Chin Refugees is a book that combines the work of ISKL kids as well as the Chin students. Eight kids worked on this project for 8 weeks and it should not be overlooked. A copy of the short stories will be in the library for everyone to enjoy and take a look at. It is truly a tribute to teamwork and the impact that we make simply by providing some guidance. The four Chin refugees involved were: Chung Lian Thang, who is 11 years old, Kenedy Van, a 12 year old and aspiring pastor, FiBi Van Thluai Men, 12 years old and lastly Helena En Par, a 13 year old in love with the color blue.

Writing a book dedicated to giving these Chin Refugees a voice was an idea rooted in service learning. The idea sprung from a woman who works with various schools helping them and their learning initiatives. That woman was Cathy Burger K. She focused on that fact that service can come through many different forms. She mentioned a project called Our Village. The story basically goes that a women went to Tanzania. She was doing volunteer work and her time had abruptly come to a close. As she was leaving the kids she had been working with they begged her to leave her camera. She couldn’t leave it behind but went home and somehow got enough money to buy several cameras that she would take to the village. Once they access to the equipment they got to work on a story. That story was later called:  In Our Village: Kambi ya Simba Through the Eyes of Its Youth . It was a simply story about their village and how they lived. They had no way of knowing that these stories they were writing and collecting pictures for would spark a movement. People all around the world started documenting their life and telling their story. The writing was as simple as “We are hungry for education here, as much as we can get.”  “Because of the chin refugees I didn’t want it to be all the hard things that they have been through as the focus, so I  basically told the kids ‘hey you want a shot to become a publisher here is how you can do that’”  Mr. Myers basically summed up the fact that the stories the chin refugees would write would be completely up to them. Some chose to write fantasy while others went for simpler stories about realistic scenarios. This in addition to the fact that Mrs. Hutterd had also been working with kids in Malaysia and published a book with them is what drove the outreach program to action. Mr. Myers concluded with  “I spoke to my kids and asked them if anyone was even willing to take a shot and see what it would look like. Megan, Varun, Tara and Mark said ok and they found four kids.”

Next came the seemingly challenging part of the process, actually writing the book. Varun one of the students working with the Chins said  “It was not frustrating because we had a lot of time to work on it (about an hour and twenty minutes every week) and we worked on it for about 8 weeks.” Tara another editor of the book explained how “It was more their work. We just had to make sure to publish the book, get it together and send it out for publishing. The main conflict was drawing because some kids wanted to draw others wanted to collaborate and draw with you.” while Mr.Myers and the other kids involved admitted that getting illustrators was really the main issue. Yet this hardly took away from the initial goal, which was to get kids writing. Varun smiled as he finished his interview with “It was actually a really great experience, they explained to me who they wanted to become and they really reflected that through the book. You could see that the boys were inclined to do a lot of sports while the girls were slightly more creative they created books on fantasy and mystery so the books reflected the people.”

Finally it was the feeling of achievement that left everyone satisfied with the project. For the ISKL students involved this project meant bonding with the chin refugees as well as learning how to publish a book. For Mr. Myers the achievement was creating an atmosphere of mutual help. Often times with the term community service it is implied that we simply give and those less fortunate receive. This notion however is incorrect. The relationship between an ISKL student and a chin refugee should one filled with mutual respect. This process of writing a book was one in which everyone was hands on helping each other. In the words of Mr. Myers “part of what we are trying to do as a philosophy with the school is to tear down the top down and make it an even playing field, to establish that we are all in this together.”