Becoming American: An intimate look at a refugee family in Clarkston

March 09, 2017
  • By Lorrie Dallek / For the AJC
Ram, En Kawli and Bawi reading while seated on the couch in the family living room. They understand the importance of reading for continued learning of English.

My journey into the lives of the Sing-Hing family from Myanmar began almost four years ago at the AJC Decatur Book Festival. I was selling my photo book “The Women of Southeast Asia” when Daphne Hall,a teacher with the Global Village Project (GVP), a school for refugee girls, was drawn to my booth. She immediately recognized the women in the book. They were the same faces as the girls she was teaching here in the U.S. 

» Read more of our Personal Journeys 

Daphne knew the girls at GVP would love to see images from their countries of origin, so she invited me to present a slide show. She cautioned me that the girls would most likely be quiet and shy as they were just beginning to learn English. This turned out to be far from the truth. The 32 girls attending the school just loved seeing their homeland and were actually quite raucous. This was the start of my involvement in Georgia’s refugee community as a volunteer.  

I began teaching a photo class at GVP. Two at a time, the girls were taught basic mechanics of camera use and composition. They were tasked with taking pictures at home and selecting one or two to create a story in English. This continued for several months with different pairs of girls rotating through the class.

Follow the link below to read the rest of the story and to view the photo essay.