BUBA REGION, Guinea-Bissau, 11 April 2011 – The Nhala Primary School classroom in Buba is filled with extraordinary excitement when students hear that they are about to receive textbooks. This textbook distribution, part of a major UNICEF programme supported by the Government of Japan, is the first one since 2004 in this fragile West African country stricken by political instability and poverty.
The first day at Brooklyn International High School (BIHS), my first Unites States education experience, was different from what I would refer it today. I arrived to NY with my family from Thailand in June of 2008. With the limited English language I had learned in Thailand; I found life in New York wasn’t fun and easy at all. During summer of 2008, I was told from people who have been here ahead of my family that I have to continue my education in New York public high school, which later I learned would be attending BIHS in Brooklyn.
Before the fall semester of 2008 started, I had to be in summer school to prepare myself for the English language, the Unites States education system and getting used to a new environment. The Karen family, who lived in the same apartment where my family lived, guided us to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), New York resettlement office to find me a summer school. IRC helps refugees from many countries, diverse ages and life background for support to go through a process I would call “Building a new life”. Steps to build a new life starts from learning English, learning about the transportation system (subway), learning about going to the hospital, making an appointment, contact a bank, apply for social security card, state ID card, apply for public assistance and search for job/school.
Death and gunshots are not the only things we should be concerned about when we discuss the effects of conflict. When war happens we often think about death, damages and how to end the war, but do we forget about long-term damages and long-term solutions?