Educating New Americans examines what it means to be an American through the history of a refugee from Laos. Shou Cha is a community liaison for an elementary school, an evangelical preacher, a community leader, a husband, and a father. His lifetime of learning, presented mainly in his own voice, is framed by various historical and sociological contexts that have shaped his life, the lives of other Hmong refugees, and the lives of other Americans, old and new. These contexts include the history of immigrant education policies in the United States, as seen through the lives of immigrant children; the historical and sociological impact of warfare as well as missionary work in the lives of the Hmong people; and the sociology of generational conflict, especially as it is felt among immigrant groups. Finally, this book suggests that immigrant parents such as Shou Cha can contribute to the process of teaching peace to children, and making peace between diverse groups in America, the land of e pluribus unum.
"An appendix and extensive bibliography lend value to this narrative inquiry, which offers unique opportunities for researchers, educators, policymakers, and community leaders in shaping the lives and learning of 'new Americans'."
"[Hones'] ability to give detailed descriptions of this culture in the postmodern society, his concerns for ethics concerning immigrants, and his use of poetry to try to bring this to light, illuminates the 'emotive power' of the narrative."
"This book does a good job in showing readers that two people from different races and different backgrounds can develop a beautiful friendship and understanding by listening to each other. The authors further challenge all Americans to rethink the roles of schools and to bring diverse young people together rather than separate them."
"Embraces a compelling and complex theme--to understand 'What it means to be an American' in a dynamic, multicultural web of relations. By grounding a response to this probe in the story of Shou Cha, which presents scholarly substance and personal reflection, the book begins to explore multiple levels of today's immigrant experience and the complications of a life (or lives) which crosses geographical, historical, political, and social-cultural borders....The story is often told poetically, and with great care and respect....It gives face to the often misunderstood and complex lives of today's Asian-derived peoples arriving in the U.S. from war-torn homelands....The juxtaposition of Shou's and Hone's stories brings to the surface many reasonable points which add to a national debate around the query, 'Is there one way to be an American?'"
—Maenette K.P. Benham
Michigan State University