Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why I Write: to connect with one reader

One Great Teacher Doing Great Things.

It is more and more difficult with the publishing world in the state it is today to find the courage to write and the faith that your book will find a home in a publishing house that will bring it out to readers who might read and relate to your book.

Then you get a letter like this and you know you cannot stop writing. Thanks Laurel for the work you do and for sharing.

Hello Karen,

My name is Laurel Conran. I am an ESOL Teacher. Recently, our community received many refugees from Burma. I orchestrated many programs for teachers, parents and community members to help teach the refugee families English. My passion is writing a children's book about my experiences. As I was looking for children's books for my refugee students to relate to, I found your books and teacher resources! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! My favorite book is, "My Name is Sangoal.

May I share a story with you?

Today, I had a wonderful opportunity to read to a 2nd grade class. I co-teach the social studies class with the classroom teacher, I have many of my refugee students in her class. I am trying to teach the English speaking children HOW to help the refugees speak English and assimilate into their new country and school. I read your book, "My Name is Sangoal." I had the students find Sudan on the map. Next, I had students define "immigrant." One student said they saw a similar word to "migrate." Next, I asked students what they thought was an "immigrant." Responses varied, "a person living in Antartica, a person that is not supposed to be there or live there, etc..."

After discussing the correct definition, I introduced the word, "refugee." Again, a student saw the word similar to "refuse!" We discussed the meaning. I read the book with the students. They were very attentive. We stopped every 2-3 pages for a comprehension check...and to share Sangoal's feelings and how the children began to feel for Sangoal, not having any friends and no one being able to pronounce his name. The class felt sad for Sangoal and could relate to his feelings. some of the students became teary-eyed, especially my refugees and immigrants as they were making personal connections to the story. As a class the students came up with ways to help Sangoal feel more comfortable at his new school.

How did you ever come up with , Sangoal drawing pictures to help the classmates say his name??? That was ingenious and it was the class' favorite part!. The students applauded and said this was the best book they've ever read!!!

Thank you so much for sharing that touched their young lives and mine!!! It was hard to read without tearing up!

I am writing and editing my first book about my experiences teaching refugees. I read in your bio that you were part of a writing club. I like that idea. I will look for one. This book is important for me to write. Need to get the message across to teachers and children how they can help!

Recently, I was interviewed by the Washington Post and VOA about the program I wrote, ""English Speaking Partners." Click below for my story!

VOA (Voice of America)YouTube

VOA (Voice of America) aired around the world:

WASHPOST Article: Teaching Burmese Chin Refugees

Thanks so much for reading my long email! Looking forward to hearing from you!


Laurel Conran

If you have not read the book:
My Name is Sangoel

Sangoel is a refugee. Leaving behind his homeland of Sudan, where his father died in the war, he has little to call his own other than his name, a Dinka name handed down, proudly from his father and grandfather before him.

When Sangoel and his mother and sister are resettled in America, things are supposed to be better but life in their new home is strange and lonely. The refugee camp seems better than this place where no one can pronounce his name and some even make jokes about it. Sangoel quietly endures the homesickness and ignores his mother’s suggestion that he might want to take an American name. He finally comes up with and ingenious solution to this problem and in the process begins to make friends and perhaps feel a little at home.

Co-authored with Khadra Mohammed and Illustrated by Catherine Stock in bright detailed scenes this is a poignant story of identity and belonging that will help young readers understand the plight of many children around the world as well as in their own neighborhoods.

1 comment:

Leslie Davis Guccione said...

I've posted this on my FB page. Thank you!