Reading and Writing Podcast Interview with Jeff Rutherford and Warren St. John, Author of Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town

by Rebeca on June 2, 2009

Jeff Rutherford, editor and publisher of Reading and Writing Podcast  and I are launching a new feature later this month— a joint book review effort in which we’ll be discussing books for the podcast from different perspectives.

To introduce Jeff to my readers, I though I would post his fascinating interview with New York Times reporter and author Warren St. John, who discusses his new book Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town .

From the Random House website, below is a brief synopsis of Outcast United:

The extraordinary tale of a refugee youth soccer team and the transformation of a small American town

Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical Southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement center in the 1990s, becoming the first American home for scores of families in flight from the world’s war zones—from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston’s streets were filled with women wearing the hijab, the smells of cumin and curry, and kids of all colors playing soccer in any open space they could find. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to unify Clarkston’s refugee children and keep them off the streets. These kids named themselves the Fugees.

Set against the backdrop of an American town that without its consent had become a vast social experiment, Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees and their charismatic coach. Warren St. John documents the lives of a diverse group of young people as they miraculously coalesce into a band of brothers, while also drawing a fascinating portrait of a fading American town struggling to accommodate its new arrivals. At the center of the story is fiery Coach Luma, who relentlessly drives her players to success on the soccer field while holding together their lives—and the lives of their families—in the face of a series of daunting challenges.

This fast-paced chronicle of a single season is a complex and inspiring tale of a small town becoming a global community—and an account of the ingenious and complicated ways we create a home in a changing world.

To listen to Jeff’s southern drawl and terrific interview go to Reading and Writing Podcast.

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