On a Saturday afternoon in early February, not long after Atlanta had thawed from its week-long, frozen paralysis, girls from the Atlanta Girls School and the Global Village School met to get to know each other a little better. The Atlanta Girls School, a private college preparatory school, got an opportunity to meet girls whose lives, and in some cases families, had been torn apart by war. Many of the girls lived in refugee camps in countries as different as Thailand and Somalia. Now, here in the United States, they work hard to piece together the remnants of a former life to create a new and dynamic future for themselves, their families, and their communities.
These schools’ first-time meeting of minds and cultures produced many memorable moments. Students Meh Sod (Global Village School) and her partner Emma (Atlanta Girls School), talked about family activities and goals for the future. When Emma shared her family’s penchant for weekly movie-watching gatherings, Meh couldn’t relate. Her father died very young, and the Burma native’s life trajectory would land her in a refugee camp in Thailand before her move to the United States.
Shelby (Atlanta Girls School) and Nura (Global Village School) seemed as if they had been friends for many years. They came into the booth giggling and laughing with each other. During their conversation, they discussed their likes and dislikes, the places to which they’d like to travel, their goals and their role models. Shelby talked about her favorite teacher, a math teacher, Ms. Clayton, who teaches pre-calculus and calculus, swims, kayaks, hikes, is married and expecting a child – in Shelby’s opinion, doing it all. Nura turned the conversation in a different direction when she began talking about her initial thoughts of the United States vs. the reality once she arrived. Before arriving, she thought it was a place “where you could just rest.” She thought there were no problems in the country and that a person could get a job easily. Once here, she quickly realized that she had to work hard for what she wanted. And that there was no easy ride for anyone.
At the end of the day, the teachers who organized the recording day, Linda Smiley from the Global Village School and Peggy Hasty along with Ms. Hannon from the Atlanta Girls School, realized that the two-day experience – both the meet-and-greet activity day and the recording day – provided them with enough raw material for months of lesson plans yet to come. They fully understood the importance of what they had done, the impact that these experiences would have not only on each girl who participated, but also on the girls’ families, the schools to which they belong, the Atlanta community, and on them.