The Refugee Anthology Project was born from the Literature of Witness course at the Woodside Priory School, an independent, college preparatory day and boarding school. This upper-division English course focuses on fiction and nonfiction texts about genocide and other experiences of oppression and war around the world.
Instructor Kathleen Gonzalez carefully crafted and developed the course curriculum to provide students with a rare look inside not only the oppression, violence, hardship, and inequality that plague society, but also the opportunity and hope these real-life stories present. In order to connect on a more personal level with the material, students in the class interviewed those who had to flee their homelands. This assignment has quickly become one of the course’s core assignments, and students often reflect on how powerful and moving the interview process is.
During the course’s inaugural year in 2012, Kathleen wondered how the class could share these inspirational and emotional interviews with a broader audience. Students suggested using social media and possibly creating a class website to share the content with a larger community. She connected with student Jackson Larango, and the two managed to create The Refugee Anthology website, posting and organizing student interviews on an easy-to-navigate website.
Since the site’s launch in August 2012, the course has evolved to include not only interviews and dialogue with refugees, but also interviews and dialogue with war veterans. These two unique perspectives provide a rare glimpse into the lives of these heroes, who are often our neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and friends. Some two years after the site’s launch, The Refugee Anthology now includes interviews from twelve countries spanning three continents. We look forward to adding more content as students conduct additional interviews.
Meet the Team
After receiving her BA in English from San José State University, Kathleen earned her teaching credentials in English and English as a Second Language. She went on to earn a National Board Teaching Credential in Adolescent/Young Adulthood English Language Arts and a MA in Education from San José State University. During her rich career as an educator, Kathleen has helped countless students reach their educational goals and grow personally, academically, and professionally.
Although Jackson graduated from Woodside Priory in 2013, he remains passionate about The Refugee Anthology Project. His eclectic personality drove him towards technology, design, and nature at a young age. Jackson has subsequently created numerous websites for educators and explored interests in business and sustainability. He hopes to employ his entrepreneurial talent in the emerging field of social business.