Refugees were once everyday people living their lives until they were forced to flee their homes due to fear of staying in their home country. When forced to flee home, refugees lives are turned “inside out” because they must leave behind there close values, and advantages. The novel, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai and the articles, “Children of War” by Arthur Brice and “Refugees: Who,Where,Why” by Catherine Gevert Demonstrate that refugees often experience a feeling of being turned “inside out” and “back again. When they flee, they may leave behind family members, friends, a home, a job, and special possessions. Fleeing home and trying to find a new home can make them feel like their lives are being turned inside out.
In the novel Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai, Ha’s family lives in South Vietnam during the height of the Vietnam War. When the war brings fear and hardship to the family, they decided flee their home. Ha becomes a refugee who struggles to assimilate to the culture of her new home in Alabama. Ha’s life feels like it is being turned “inside out” in the same way other refugees all over the world feel. Many refugees are turned “inside out” as a result of trauma and pain associated with losing a loved one, just like Ha and her family. In the article, “Children of War, ” all four of the refugee children talk about being separated from one of their parents because of war. Amela’s father went to work one day but never returned home. Later, she learned he had been killed. She says, “Before the war, I really enjoyed life, but after I found out about my father’s death everything seemed so useless. I couldn’t see any future for myself” (Brice 26). Likewise , In Part One of Inside Out & Back Again, Ha grows up without her father because of the war. In “Missing in Action,” Ha writes, “Father left home on a Navy mission on this day nine years ago when I was almost He was captured on Route 1 an hour south of the city by moped. That’s all we know” (Lai 12). Ha misses her father even though she does not know much about him.
Furthermore, in the poem “Birthday Wishes,” Ha writes about how she is hopeful that her father will return home soon because Mother is so sad. She also states, “Mostly I wish Father would appear in our doorway and make Mother’s lips curl upward, lifting them from a permanent frown of worries” (Lai 31). Refugees like Ha and Amela often experience a feeling of being turned “inside out” when they are separated from loved ones. However, due to the kindness of others, refugees begin to feel a sense of home and that things are turning “back again.” The article, “Refugee Children in Canada” states “One key factor in success is the reception of newcomers by the host society” (Fantino and Cloak 589). In the novel , Ha begins to feel a sense of home again due to the kindness of one of her neighbors, Miss Washington. When other neighbors slam their doors on Ha and her family Miss Washington “throws up her arms/ and hugs” them (Lai 164). Individuals like Miss Washington are evidence that “ support services, schools, health and social services, and the community at large play a crucial role in assisting and supporting children” (Fantino and Cloak 589). Miss Washington“volunteers to tutor” Ha and her family, which eliminates some of the burden of learning the English language (Lai 165) Ha begins to feel a sense of progress while working with Miss Washington. She can also confide in her neighbor without the fear of being ridiculed .
When Ha explains that she eats her lunch in the bathroom,Miss Washington states, “I’ll fix that./Things will get better,/Just you wait,” thus enabling Ha to turn “ back again” (Lai 182). Things do get better for Ha at school after confiding in her neighbor. Other refugees also experience a sense of “back again” due to the kindness of others. For example, Til Gurung explains that simple everyday tasks such as taking the bus were a challenge for his wife when they arrived in the United States. However, due to the kindness of others, his wife was assigned a tutor and “After a year of tutoring, these things were no longer a big problem for her. Now she has more confidence and more language skills to help herself and out family” (Gurung. Ultimately, the compassion of others aids refugees in feeling a sense of home again. Ha’s experience fleeing and finding home, or turning “inside out” and “back again,” reflects the experience of other refugees. R
efugees, like Ha, are often turned “inside out” due to the loss of loved ones during times of war. This grief often comes to the surface when they are forced to flee Home. Fortunately, refugees’ lives are often turned “back again” when they find a sense of home due to the kindness of others. Ha’s experiences give voice to thousands of refugees whose lives have been turned “inside out” and “back again” as a result of circumstances beyond their control.
- Brice, Arthur. “Children of War .” Scholastic Update , 25 Mar. 1994, pp. 57–58 Fantino, Ana M, and Alice Colak. “Refugee Children in Canada: Searching for Identity.”
- Child Welfare, vol. 80, no. 5, 2001, p. 64. Lai, Thanhha. Inside out & Back Again. Harper, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2017.