For many refugees, resettlement isn't what they imagined. This powerful comic explains.

In the past year, about 85,000 refugees from around the world settled in the United States.

Each refugee undergoes a rigorous screening process that can take years to complete. That experience alone is often exhausting and all-consuming.

Once they arrive, language barriers, lack of economic opportunities, and working in and around complicated systems can make settling in a new country and community very difficult.


"[Refugees] undergo already a very long and painful life," said Chhabi Koirala, who spent 17 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. "They are very tired of being in the camp. And when they come here they see everything different. It's not always what they expect."

The Hornbakery, a group of graduate students from the University of Maryland, explored the confusion and uncertainty many refugees face in a powerful illustrated story below, titled "Amira in America."

The group consists of four women: Andrea Castillo, Carmen Collins, Liz Laribee, and Dolly Martino. "All of us had a personal interest in creating something for people who speak English as a foreign language for a variety of reasons, from experiencing migration to the U.S. firsthand to volunteering with refugees in the U.S.," explained the group in an interview.

"Amira in America" is about a Syrian girl named Amira who is adjusting to her new life in America. She shares a bond with her teacher, an immigrant from Ethiopia, who understands the hardships and isolation that Amira feels in a new land.

The Hornbakery chose to do an illustration about refugees to resonate with a diverse audience. "Pairing the story with the pictures helps get the message across more easily, especially for those who may lack literacy skills, either in English or even in their own language," they explained.

While getting started in a new place is challenging, as this story shows, there are many ways to support and empower new residents.

Koirala now works as a job coach with the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), a Portland-based nonprofit serving over 30,000 community members each year. The organization provides more than 140 linguistically and culturally specific services and resources, including academic support, community development, parenting education, English courses and more.

In his role, Koirala helps new residents secure employment. He assists with resumes, sets up interviews, and even provides transportation.

You can help refugees in your community too. In fact, Koirala has some tips.

Seek out local organizations and charities in your area, as many desperately need volunteers. Whether it's driving families to and from appointments or serving as a translator or English conversation partner. And as refugees and immigrants settle into their new routines, being a friendly and familiar face in a sea of uncertainty goes a long way. Unsure where or how to start? Koirala says, don't be afraid to speak up.

"Ask folks what they need and how you can help."

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
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While most 10-year-olds are playing Minecraft, riding bikes, or watching YouTube videos, Justin Sather is intent on saving the planet. And it all started with a frog blanket when he was a baby.

"He carried it everywhere," Justin's mom tells us. "He had frog everything, even a frog-themed birthday party."

In kindergarten, Justin learned that frogs are an indicator species – animals, plants, or microorganisms used to monitor drastic changes in our environment. With nearly one-third of frog species on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water, and habitat destruction, Justin realized that his little amphibian friends had something important to say.

"The frogs are telling us the planet needs our help," says Justin.

While it was his love of frogs that led him to understand how important the species are to our ecosystem, it wasn't until he read the children's book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada that Justin-the-activist was born.

Inspired by the book and with his mother's help, he set out on a mission to raise funds for frog habitats by selling toy frogs in his Los Angeles neighborhood. But it was his frog art which incorporated scientific facts that caught people's attention. Justin's message spread from neighbor to neighbor and through social media; so much so that he was able to raise $2,000 for the non-profit Save The Frogs.

And while many kids might have their 8th birthday party at a laser tag center or a waterslide park, Justin invited his friends to the Ballona wetlands ecological preserve to pick invasive weeds and discuss the harms of plastic pollution.

Justin's determination to save the frogs and help the planet got a massive boost when he met legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

At one of her Roots and Shoots youth initiative events, Dr. Goodall was so impressed with Justin's enthusiasm for helping frogs, she challenged the young activist to take it one step further and focus on plastic pollution as well. Justin accepted her challenge and soon after was featured in an issue of Bravery Magazine dedicated to Jane Goodall.

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When the "Me Too" movement sparked a firestorm of stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the world learned what most women already knew. Sexual abuse isn't rare. And far too often, it is covered up, with the perpetrator being protected while victims are left to languish.

Few stories have made that reality more clear than the uncovering of the years-long, widespread sexual abuse of young female athletes on the U.S. women's gymnastics team by the team's physician, Larry Nassar. The scope of his abuse is mind-blowing. The fact that it was happening all the time, behind the scenes, while the young women he was abusing were in the spotlight winning medal after medal, is shocking.

Now we're finding out how bad the investigations were, how these women were dismissed, ignored, and neglected, how investigators allowed the abuse to continue despite ample evidence that it was happening. That is simply enraging.

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