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As a refugee, what does academic success look like?

Not a lot of teens are excited about being the “different” kid that stands out in high school. As a Muslim teen from Iraq, Fatimah is learning to navigate that typical experience: striking the balance between fitting in and being your own person. In her senior year at Harrisonburg High, Fatimah decided to try out for the school play, which pushed her boundaries around sexuality and acceptance.

Harrisonburg, Virginia is unique as well: there are 51 countries and 57 languages represented in Harrisonburg’s public schools. Not every refugee teen experience is a positive one, but the overwhelming support and pride that the Harrisonburg community takes in its immigrants and refugees means that leaders prioritize their needs in a way that the federal government is not.


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