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Half the World: Excerpts from a New Book About Refugees in Boise

"If an American doesn't know how to spell, that's fine; but if a foreigner doesn't know how to spell, it's embarrassing. I felt that I had to prove my worthiness to others."

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"'My shrapnel reminded me of the purpose of life. I believe that if you do good things in life, you will be protected. Because during the war I was helping people: I didn't want to kill anybody, because I felt like if you kill anybody, even if that person is your enemy, it will come back somehow to bite you. Somehow, I was chosen to survive and I am here to share my story. My body was full of shrapnel, 15 wounds, and miraculously I survived.

"'I always think about that shrapnel, and so many foreign bodies that are inside, and at peace with me. And people ask if I feel anything. No, I don't! I never felt anything, and even though some of the shrapnel pieces broke my bones, they don't bother me.

"'This is why whenever I talk with refugee students in high schools, I encourage them. I say "Look, I came to America and I didn't go to an American high school. I was able to finish college and now I'm getting my doctorate. I had to work much harder, because writing was much harder for me than for somebody who attended an American high school.

"'The only English I knew was from TV, and from listening to the NPR radio in my truck during my work. As somebody who is from a different country, I felt like if I didn't know something, people will judge me and laugh at me. If an American doesn't know how to spell, that's fine; but if a foreigner doesn't know how to spell, it's embarrassing. I felt that I had to prove my worthiness to others. But you should believe in yourself and not give up. Don't let fear or insecurity or anything or anyone else discourage you. That is my advice.'"

—Excerpted from "Chosen to Survive," Chapter 3, Half the World

"'I told him I had no family to go to. I didn't know anyone in Rwanda, and I can never go back there. After everything that happened in Rwanda, I'll never go there again.'

"When Emelda was 16, the harassment twisted into threats of murder. The man that Emelda had once thought could be a father to her was roaring at her that he had taken her in and cared for her. Now, as he was leaving to go back to Rwanda, she had to follow him there, or he would kill her before he left."

—Excerpted from "Leave One to Remember," Chapter 4, Half the World

"For Ethiopians, Yordanos explains, food is ceremony, a cultural bond. 'If you know an Ethiopian, you have eaten teff injera. It is a staple in most every household. In America, I think of teff and injera as doors that lead to questions and discussion, bringing cultures together.' Food nurtures the wealth of multicultural understanding. Ethiopian seeds, transplanted to the Boise Valley, cultivate a dynamic that benefits both."

—Excerpted from "Food of the Pharaohs," Chapter 5, Half the World

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