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What I’ve Been Reading on the Metro: Outcasts United

January 22, 2010

If you’ve ever been to DC and ridden the Metro, you’ve likely noticed that especially during rush hour, the trains are packed with people of all different backgrounds, many speaking languages other than English, and many not speaking at all as they are engrossed in whatever is playing through their headphones. There are also the occasional people that seem to be talking out loud (and very loudly) to themselves until you realize – oh no, their talking on their phone/Bluetooth… something I have yet to get used to.

Over the past few days, what you would see me doing on the Metro however is intently reading a wonderful new book, Outcasts United, by Warren St. John. For some reason these Metro rides seem to be the only time that I find to read and yet I often get so involved in the book that after about fifteen minutes I look up and realize that I’ve nearly missed my stop! This book was give to me for Christmas (thanks Dad!) and it chronicles the story of a Jordanian woman Luma Mufleh who comes to the U.S. as a college student and eventually ends up as the coach of the Fugees, a soccer team of refugee boys in a small town in Georgia that had become the resettlement site for refugees from scores of the world’s most war torn nations – Liberia to Iraq, Afghanistan to Sudan.

Though I have yet to finish the book (not because I don’t want to, because my Metro ride’s too short!) this book is not just about a woman who chose to work, for very little, to help these young boys find a home in America. It’s also the story of each of these boys and their families, how and why they came to this country and the difficulties they faced once they had ‘achieved the dream’ of making it to America. In addition, the author also gives a great amount of concise background information about the conflicts that helped to push these families to become refugees. Finally, the authors also addresses the issues of a changing definition of place in a small southern town on the outskirts of Atlanta, GA and in some ways, the United States as a whole.

Having worked with refugees and immigrants in Greensboro, NC while in college, I greatly appreciate the humanity of these stories and the recognition that each of these “characters” is dealing with the changes in their own lives and the world around them in unique ways. As praise for the book suggests, Outcasts United is, “Brilliant … A heartwarming tale about the transformations that occur when our disparate lives connect.” -Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone.

In my opinion, it’s not only a great read, but also reminds us about both the complications that immigrant and refugee populations can present to our ‘world as we know it’ as well as the cross-cultural connections that such circumstances provide, whether we expected them or not.

In peace,


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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 25, 2010 8:54 pm

    Rachael,Glad you find it a good read! I thought the topic might be of interest.

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