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Wayne Johnson: Many People Help Refugees

posted on February 9, 2011 at 2:03 PM

Former chief of the Bureau of Refugee Services Wayne Johnson talks about Iowans who helped refugees who came to Iowa from Southeast Asia in 1979.

Well, I mean, I can't speak for any other program. I've never been involved in them. But this was—and I think continues to be—a successful program because of the efforts of many, many people that aren't necessarily directly connected to the refugee program.

ESL teachers—now are they directly connected to the refugee program? Of course not. Do they have refugees in their classes? Yes, they do. Who is a refugee going to go to many times when they have a question, when they have a problem? Well, they're probably going to go to an ESL teacher or to a church Sunday school teacher or to someone they work with on the assembly line—or whatever—because those are the people that they are the closest to every day.

And so what you get is people who aren't—this is not maybe the right way to say it—but people who haven't signed on to do the work. They do the work.

Tags: Asia documentaries education history Iowa language refugees teachers