Elly Fishman: A Conversation at Sullivan High School

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Elly Fishman

Author Elly Fishman will be joined in conversation by Sullivan alum Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and current Sullivan High School students about their thoughts on REFUGEE HIGH, being a refugee or immigrant student at Sullivan today, and how the school and neighborhood have evolved over time. Members of ICIRR will also provide opportunities to TAKE ACTION on current immigrant and refugee issues.

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About the book: For a century, Chicago's Roger C. Sullivan High School has been a home to immigrant and refugee students. In 2017, during the worst global refugee crisis in history, its immigrant population numbered close to three hundred--or nearly half the school--and many were refugees new to the country. These young people came from thirty-five different countries, speaking among themselves more than thirty-eight different languages.

For these refugee teens, life in Chicago is hardly easy. They have experienced the world at its worst and carry the trauma of the horrific violence they fled. In America, they face poverty, racism, and xenophobia, but they are still teenagers--flirting, dreaming, and working as they navigate their new life in America.

Refugee High is a riveting chronicle of the 2017-8 school year at Sullivan High, a time when anti-immigrant rhetoric was at its height in the White House. Even as we follow teachers and administrators grappling with the everyday challenges facing many urban schools, we witness the complicated circumstances and unique education needs of refugee and immigrant children: Alejandro may be deported just days before he is scheduled to graduate; Shahina narrowly escapes an arranged marriage; and Belenge encounters gang turf wars he doesn't understand.

Equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring, Refugee High raises vital questions about the priorities and values of a public school and offers an eye-opening and captivating window into the present-day American immigration and education systems.

About the author: Elly Fishman worked as a senior editor and writer at Chicago magazine. Her features have won numerous awards including a City Regional Magazine Award for her article Welcome to Refugee High, her first report on the students and faculty at Chicago‚Äôs Roger C. Sullivan High School. Refugee High: Coming of Age in America (The New Press) is based on the article, and won the prestigious Studs and Ida Terkel Prize for a first book in the public interest. A Chicago native and graduate of the University of Chicago, Fishman currently lives in Milwaukee with her husband and their dog and teaches in the Journalism Department at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

About the interlocutor: Jan Schakowsky was elected to represent Illinois' 9th Congressional District in 1998, after serving for eight years in the Illinois State Assembly. She is in her twelfth term. Schakowsky serves in the House Democratic Leadership as a Senior Chief Deputy Whip. She is a member of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, House Budget Committee, as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where she serves as Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, and as a member of the Environment and Oversight & Investigations Subcommittees. Jan lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her husband Robert Creamer and their two energetic rescue dogs, Franklin and Eleanor (Frankie and Ellie for short). She graduated from the University of Illinois in 1965 with a B.S. in Elementary Education.
 
Event Location: 
Sullivan High School
6631 N Bosworth Ave
Chicago, IL 60626