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HOMES for Refugee Youth

To address the concerns of refugee adolescents who come from other countries to Chicago, ICORC started HOMES (Houses of Memories and Expectations). In the summer of 2004 and 2005, HOMES recruited 15 Chicago high school students who were refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, India, Nigeria, and Congo. Visiting artists introduced the teens to writing and photography, and guided them in exploring themes of home, family, war, migration, identity and the future. The teens explored Uptown neighborhoods, wrote stories and took photographs. Weine and Nerina Muzurovic (a former adolescent refugee) assisted then with applying to college and practiced writing college essays with them. The teens built, “houses of memories and expectations” that had a gallery exhibition and together compiled a “visual ethnography” of refuge that was published (Weine, 2004). The HOMES experience showed that creative arts offer potentially useful modalities for engaging and helping teen refugees. HOMES demonstrated that many of the central concerns of Bosnian refugee adolescents were also shared by other refugee adolescents, such as trauma related suffering, access to services, educational challenges and family support. However, HOMES also showed that adolescents and their families from non-Western cultures have markedly different expectations regarding services and adolescence itself. HOMES demonstrated that it was possible to engage youth and families from new refugee communities and to form a productive group of adolescents from multiple cultural groups. 
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