“ONE SMALL SCHOOL…”

June 13, 2018 at 5:00 am

In the documentary “Refugee Kids: One Small School Takes on the World,” refugee students from the most hostile regions of the globe come to the USA to seek refuge and get an education. In turn, they share their strength, resilience, and courage. We have a preview.

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

Aired on June 12, 2018. 

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>>> ABOUT ONE THIRD OF ALM
REFUGEES COME TO THE UNITED
STATES SEEKING SIGH LUMP ARE
CHILDREN.
BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY GET
HERE.
>> AS PART OF OUR CHASING THE
DREAM NISHIVE WE ARE LOOKING AT
A SHORT DOCUMENTARY ENTITLED
REFUGEE KIDS ONE SMALL SCHOOL
TAKES ON THE WORLD.
THE FILM FOLLOWS STUDENTS AT A
NEW YORK CITY SUMMER PROGRAM WHO
FLED FROM SOME OF THE WORLD'S
DAERJS CONFLICTS.
LET'S TAKE A LOOK.
>> THAT WAS MY FIRST TIME
FACE-TO-FACE WITH DEATH.
>> YOU PLAY IN THE STREET AND
BOMBS COME.
>> WELCOME IT TO OUR SUMMER
ACADEMY FOR SIX WEEKS WE ARE ONE
BIG FAMILY.
>> BEING GIVEN A CHANCE TO START
LIFE AGAIN, IT'S THE AMERICAN
STORY.
>> JOINING US NOW ARE GEORGE
TORO A STUDENT FEATURED SAW HIM
IN THAT CLIP AND ONE OF THE
FILM'S DIRECTORS RENEE
SILVERMAN.
WELCOME TO BOTH OF.
>> YOU THANK YOU.
>> FIRST QUESTION TO YOU RENEE
YOU AND YOUR CODIRECTOR PETER
MILLER PUT THIS TOGETHER.
AND IT'S SUCH A COMPELLING AND
INSPIRATIONAL STORY.
BUT MY QUESTION TO YOU IS HOW
DID YOU COME UPON IT?
WHY DID YOU WANT TO DO THIS
FILM.
>> WE STARTED THIS FILM IN A
VERY DIFFERENT POLITICAL
CLIMATE.
AND I'M A NEWS PRODUCER.
AND ONE OF MY COLLEAGUES LEFT
NEWS PRODUCING TO INCOME A CASE
WORK AT INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE
COMMITTEE.
SHE TOLD ME ABOUT THE KIDS AND
HOW THEY CAME TO THE SUMMER
SCHOOL AND BE GREEN AND WOULDN'T
SPEAK ENGLISH AND STARING DOWN
AT SHOES.
SHE TALKED ABOUT THE THE PROCESS
HOW THEY ATTENDED THE SCHOOL AND
GOT ACCLIMATED TO LIVES IN
AMERICA AND HOW MOVING IT WAS AT
GRADUATION DAY.
IT JUST SEEMED LIKE THE PERFECT
STORY TO TALK ABOUT WHAT IT'S
LIKE TO COME TO AMERICA.
IT'S A STORY THAT MANY IF NOT
MOST AMERICANS HAVE AS PART OF
THEIR ANCESTRY.
MOST OF US ARE CHILDREN ABGREAT
GRANDCHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS AND
REFUGEES.
I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE AN
INTERESTING AND IMPORTANT STORY
TO TELL.
THE STORY OF COMING TO AMERICA
FOR THESE CHILDREN.
>> AND THE IDEA WAS FOR THESE
CHILDREN'S SCHOOL TO PREPARE
THEM FOR THE NEXT STEP IN THE
SCHOOLING LIVES.
>> EXACTLY.
THE UNITED STATES HAS FOR THE
PAST 70 YEARS BEEN INVITING
FAMILIES, REFUGEE FAMILIES, WHO
ARE IN NEED TO COME TO THE
COUNTRY LEGALLY.
ALL OF THEM CAME LEGALLY WITH
THEIR FAMILIES AND RESETTLED
WITH A NUMBER OF
NON-GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES.
AND THE IRC WAS ONE OF THE
AGENCIES.
IT'S A UNIQUE SCHOOL AND PROGRAM
JUST FOR REFUGEES.
>> YOU CAN GET THAT SENSE.
GEORGE LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR
EXPERIENCE.
WHERE DID YOU COME FROM AND HOW
DID YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THIS
SCHOOL?
>> I CAME FROM LIBERIA.
SO MY FAMILY RESETTLED STATEN
ISLAND IN AND
HELP WITH HOMEWORK.
THAT'S HOW I GOT WITH THE
PROGRAM.
>> WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED WITH
THE PROGRAM, WHAT WERE YOU
HOPING YOU'D BE ABLE TO GET FROM
IT?
>> HONESTLY, I JUST USED TO GO
THERE EVERY SATURDAY JUST TO DO
MY HOMEWORK, GET SOMEBODY TO
TUTOR ME BUT ALSO TO ESCAPE SOME
OF THE SHOES ERA ISSUES GOING ON
IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD AT THE TIME.
WHAT I HOPED TO GET WAS BE AMONG
KIDS WHO SHARE SIMILAR
EXPERIENCE AS ME.
>> WHEN YOU WATCH THIS FILM, ONE
OF THE THINGS I WAS STRUCK BY IS
THE SENSE OF JOY.
WERE YOU ABLE TO SENSE THAT SAME
FEELING OF JOY AMONGST THE OTHER
STUDENTS?
AND DID YOU START TO FEEL SOME
OF THAT?
>> YES, DEFINITELY.
IT'S JUST WHAT WE ALL SHARE,
MOST OF US CAME AREAS WHERE WE
ARE FLEEING WAR.
IN A LOT OF WAYS WE HAD THAT IN
COMMON.
THE IRC DID EVERYTHING THEY
COULD TO HELP US IN THE SENSE
LIKE GETTING PEOPLE TO COME AND
TUTOR US EVERY SATURDAY.
ALSO THEY STARTED A SOCCER
PROGRAM.
AND A LOT OF THE KIDS LOVE
SOCCER.
THAT'S WHERE WE BONDED.
SOCCER HELPED US BOND.
SOME OF MY CLOSEST FRIENDS ARE
MUSLIM.
EVERY SATURDAY DURING THE
RAMADAN WE HAD TO WAIT FOR
RAMADAN I WAS THE ONLY
CHRISTIAN.
THE COACH WAS THE ONLY
CHRISTIAN.
EXPERIENCING SIDEKICK LIKE THAT
IS SHOWS A DIFFERENCE OF THE
HUMAN RACE.
>> SO YOU ARE SEEING
INTERACTIONS IN THIS SCHOOL THAT
YOU WOULD NOT HAVE SEEN IF YOU
WENT BACK TO THEIR COUNTRIES OR
IN MANY COUNTRIES.
AND I WAS STRUCK BY ONE OF THE
COMMENTS, A BIT OF IT IN THE
TRAILER, THAT THIS IS A REAL
AMERICAN SUCCESS STORY.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY MEANT BY
THAT?
>> I THINK THAT OUR FILM SHOWS
WHAT IT'S LIKE FOR REFUGEES
TODAY COMING TO THIS COUNTRY.
AND FOR ME IT'S VERY IMPORTANT
THAT WE'RE PUTTING A HUMAN FACE
ON THIS GLOBAL CRISIS.
>> HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE --
FOR SOMEBODY WHO HASN'T SEEN
THIS YET BUT WILL WANT TO SEE IT
AFTER WE HAVE THIS CONVERSATION?
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE FOR
THEM THE EVOLUTION OF THE
CHILDREN WHEN THEY FIRST STARTED
THE PROGRAM AND WHEN THEY -- AS
WE SEE WHEN THEY GRADUATE FROM
THIS PROGRAM
>> I THINK FOR THEM THE SCHOOL
BECOMES A REFUGE.
AND THEY REALIZE THAT THEY HAVE
TREMENDOUS RESILIENCE, YOU KNOW,
THEY COME FROM A DIFFERENTLY
CULTURAL MORES A AND COMPLETELY
DIFFERENT CULTURE AND COME TO
AMERICA AND THEY CAN BE PART OF
THE FABRIC OF LIFE IN NEW YORK
AND AMERICA, WHETHER THROUGH
MUSIC AND, YOU KNOW, SOCCER,
THROUGH THEATER, I THINK THAT
THEY ALSO FIND COURAGE AND
STRENGTH FROM CLASSMATES WHO ARE
MAYBE FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS
BUT THEY SHARE THE COMMON
EXPERIENCE OF COMING HERE AND
HAVING TO ADJUST.
>> GEORGE, LAST QUESTION FOR YOU
IF SOMEBODY CAME UP AND SAID I
JUST CAME HERE FROM YOUR COUNTRY
AND YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS SCHOOL
AND YOU WENT THROUGH IT.
WOULD IT BE GOOD FOR ME TO DO IT
TOO.
>> I WOULD TESTIMONY THEM TO GO
FOR IT.
IT'S SOMETHING THAT WILL BE VERY
HELPFUL IN THE LONG RUN.
THE IRC SCHOOL DIDN'T JUST
PREPARE US FOR THE AMERICAN
SCHOOL SYSTEM.
BUT IT ALSO PREPARED US FOR
LIFE.
HOW TO BECOME A BETTER AMERICAN
CITIZEN.
AND HOW TO JUST ADJUST TO LIVING
IN THE CITY LIKE NEW YORK.
NEW YORK IS ONE OF THE MOST
BUSIEST CITIES IN THE UNITED
STATES.
I WOULD DEFINITELY GIVE THAT
PERSON A GOOD RECOMMENDATION TO,
YOU KNOW, GO THERE AND
EXPERIENCE SOMETHING THAT THEY
NEVER EXPERIENCED BEFORE.
IT'S JUST HELPING YOU FEEL LIKE
YOU BELONG -- YOU BELONG WITH A
SPECIFIC GROUP OF KIDS.
>> WELL WE SHOULD CERTAINLY
APPLAUD THE SCHOOL FOR BEING A
GREAT TRANSFORMATIVE FORCE IN
THE LIVES OF THESE KIDS.
IT'S A RELIEVLY FILM AND VERY
REVEALING FILM IN THE ABOUT BEST
SENSE OFWARD.
RENEE THANKS.
GEORGE THANKS TO YOU.
AND THANKS TO BOTH OF YOU FOR
SPENDING TIME WITH US.
YOU BE WELL.
>> THANK YOU.
>> THANK YOU.
>> AND REFUGEE KIDS ONE SMALL
SCHOOL TAKES ON THE WORLD.
PREMIERES SATURDAY, JUNE 16th AT
1:00 P.M. ON 13.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, and Judy and Josh Weston.

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