Author Challenges Students to Consider Life as Refugee

Bosque middle school students had a special visitor last week: Author Alexandra Diaz.

Ms. Diaz is the author of The Only Road, a Pura Belpré Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book. The Only Road tells the story of two young cousins Jaime and Angela, who unwillingly leave their homes in gang-controlled Guatemala to seek safety in the United States. Based on true events, their journey across borders highlights the challenges faced by many refugees.

In an interactive presentation to the students, Ms. Diaz shared what inspired her to write this story, starting with the history of her own family. When her parents emigrated from Cuba to the United States, they were only allowed to bring with them two sets of clothing and five dollars each. Refugees from around the world find themselves in similar circumstances. Ms. Diaz challenged Bosque students to think about what they would bring with them if they were limited to only a few items, and why. She showed photos of the contents found in pockets and purses of other refugees who were fleeing their home country —a phone, batteries, a guitar pick, and a watch were a few of the items that were displayed. Ms. Diaz encouraged Bosque students to identify reasons why someone would bring something like a guitar pick with them and what value the item might hold. These exercises helped our students better understand the complexities of refugee life and helped put them in the shoes of Ms. Diaz’ refugee characters, Jaime and Angela.

Ms. Diaz concluded her presentation by sharing invaluable pieces of advice for our Bosque students who may want to become writers: don’t give up, finish what you start, and don’t listen to anyone who says that you can’t do it.

Thank you to Ms. Diaz for challenging our students to explore other life perspectives.