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The Refugee Struggle In The Novel Inside Out And Back Again

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Refugees around the world face a myriad of problems. These problems are quite severe considering the fact that they are fleeing their homes. If everything was ok in your home-country/town, you wouldn’t be fleeing, you’d be staying. However people around the world aren’t as fortunate as others and they do live in a more rough environment than others. Some reasons for refugees leaving home are things such as war, government issues, lack of job opportunities, poverty, and much more. The novel Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai is about a girl named Ha and her family’s troubles while fleeing Vietnam and trying to find a better life in America, just like refugees.

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Refugees’ lives can be turned inside out when having to adjust to the new culture and still being able to celebrate their culture. Refugees who can’t adjust to the culture of their place of refuge will have a hard time fitting in with locals and peers from school. “Perhaps the greatest threat to these children is not the stress of belonging to two cultures but the stress of belonging to none.” (Fantino and Colak, 9 ). Once refugees are in a new country, they have to learn the ways of the country. They can’t do what they’ve been accustomed to, they need to learn the ways of the new country. This is challenging for refugees because if they don’t learn the culture of their new country, they won’t be able to fit in. Ha going to school in America is a great example as to why it’d be hard to fit in if they (the refugees) didn’t understand the culture of that place. Ha was the only Vietnamese person in her school, “I’m the only straight black hair on olive skin.” (Lai, 142). Being so, it is hard to fit in with her classmates and she tends to have trouble finding a place to sit during lunch. Situations like this make refugees feel as their lives are being turned ‘Inside Out’ because everything is different, it doesn’t make sense. It makes them want to go back to their home country where everything made sense and where they felt like they could fit in. If you were having trouble in school, you’d look up to your parents for tips on how to overcome the troubles of school, however, Ha’s mother lacks education just like Ha and can not help her with her problems, on that note Ha’s father is missing because of war, they don’t know whether or not he’s safe or even alive which brings us to the next reason of how refugees lives turn ‘Inside Out’.

The loss of family members has a great impact on a refugees new life in their new country. Without someone from your family, it feels like your world is gone, you have no one to go to for comfort. This makes you feel helpless, especially if you’re just a kid/teen who deals with the loss of family members. This has a great impact on younger people because they had to deal with death at a younger age and may not be able to “get over it” as easily as an adult might be able to. “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). Finding out about the death loss of someone you loved, looked up to and depended on detriments your life.

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The Refugee Struggle In The Novel Inside Out And Back Again. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from
“The Refugee Struggle In The Novel Inside Out And Back Again.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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