Tukwila welcomes its refugee students, who tell their arrival stories

A book with the students' stories of arrival, “Our Table of Memories: Food and Poetry of Spirit, Homeland, and Tradition,” will be released during the Tukwila Cultural Heritage Festival, Thursday, Dec. 17.


Tukwila’s schools organized their own version of a flash mob, coming together at Foster’s Neudorf Stadium recently to celebrate their diverse student bodies.

And, at the same time, many of those same immigrant and refugee students are telling their journeys to America through poetry and art in “Stories of Arrival 2015:”

A book with the poetry, “Our Table of Memories: Food and Poetry of Spirit, Homeland, and Tradition,” will be released during the Tukwila Cultural Heritage Festival, Thursday, Dec. 17.

The festival is 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Tukwila Community Center, 12424 42nd Ave. S., Tukwila.

The day before Thanksgiving, students, school district employees and community members came together to make this point: We welcome, support, and care for every one of our families; we are all now neighbors, no matter our origins; and we believe in the unlimited potential of every student.

Students made signs written in Nepali, Samoan, Vietnamese, Arabic, Somali, Burmese, and Spanish. Among the immigrant families now in Tukwila are ones from Syria.

“This was not a political statement,” said Sara Niegowski, the district’s spokeswoman. “This was about our community coming together to support our diverse families. We are a global community.

Those gathered at the event held a giant side that read, “REFUGEES WELCOME.”

Foster High’s immigrants and refugees have been working with professional poet Merna Hecht to tell the stories of leaving their home countries and coming to Tukwila.

The students worked with sound technicians at Jack Straw Studios to record their poems on Dec. 3 and 4.  These audio clips will be featured on 91.3 KBCS 91.3 radio in April for National Poetry Month.

The Tukwila School District has posted photos and a video of the recording session here.

And you can provide financial support for the “Stories of Arrival” project here.


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