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'They Were Very Beautiful. Such Things Are.' Memoirs from Dadaab Kenya and Lewiston Maine by Patricia Buck and Rachel Silver

'They Were Very Beautiful. Such Things Are.' Memoirs from Dadaab Kenya and Lewiston Maine

by Patricia Buck and Rachel Silver

428 pages
A collection of diverse stories from Lewiston Maine and Dadaab Kenya.

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(PDF format)
Category: Education
(requires Adobe Reader)
About the Book
They Were Very Beautiful. Such Things Are. is a rich collection of personal narratives from two seemingly distant and distinct communities. Dadaab is an isolated outpost in a desert region of northeastern Kenya. Since 1991, the population has fluctuated between 160,000 and 230,000 refugees. Conditions are harsh: Daytime temperatures rarely fall below 90 degrees and, during the summer season, are often above 115. Annual rains bring disastrous floods. Poor nutrition and sanitation, inadequate healthcare, and disease are a way of life.

Lewiston, Maine is a city of roughly 30,000. Winter usually brings several feet of seasonal snowfall and daytime temperatures are frequently below freezing. Once a thriving center of textile manufacturing, industrial production has since ground to a near halt. While unemployment rates are high, Lewiston residents pride themselves on their independence, and resilience.

Until a 2008 freeze on Somali resettlement, the average level of Somali immigration to the U.S. measured in the thousands annually. Newcomers are often initially placed in large metropolitan areas. In many cases, Somalis find the transition to bustling urban environments difficult and elect to relocate to quieter communities. In 2001, several such families chose to make Lewiston their new home. In Lewiston, they found ample affordable housing, low crime rates, and the opportunity to build a future. Soon, more families arrived. By 2008, more than 3000 Somalis lived in Lewiston.

In Lewiston, it is now commonplace to see Somalis and longer term residents of Maine going about their daily lives. They shop at the same stores, work side by side, and attend schools together. While Somalis and Mainers share a community, they often do not know much about one anotherís history, culture, or points of view. In their busy lives, there is little time to talk, exchange tales, and ask questions. By gathering the stories of Dadaab and Lewiston community members, They Were Very Beautiful. Such Things Are. promises to spark just such conversations.


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About the Author
Patricia is an education professor at Bates College. She and co-editor Rachel Silver have worked with Somali refugee communities in Maine and Kenya. Together, they have authored several pieces on the Somali diasporic experience including an ethnography entitled Educated for Change: Gender, Schooling & Forced Migration in the Lives of Somali Women, which is currently in press with Information Age Publishing.



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