Bill Gates just released his suggestions for holiday reading, and FFT Fellow Thi Bui made the list!
This gorgeous graphic novel is a deeply personal memoir that explores what it means to be a parent and a refugee. The author’s family fled Vietnam in 1978. After giving birth to her own child, she decides to learn more about her parents’ experiences growing up in a country torn apart by foreign occupiers.
Thi’s learning took place on her Fund for Teachers fellowship.
To create an oral history project for immigrant students and complete a graphic novel about her family’s emigration, Thi sketched her way across time and her homeland, learning from and listening to her mother recount stories about their heritage. Thi’s experiences and drawings gave newly immigrated students at Oakland International High School the courage to document their own journeys to America through a graphic novel format. We Are Oakland International shared illustrated stories by 170 students – where words and often language could not – and sold copies to raise money for quality public education for them and their peers.
“My students’ memories of their home were fresh when they arrived in my class, and so were the contrasts with their new environment,” said Thi. “By modeling how I went through the same process, through a project that was deeply personal while academically rigorous, we – together – opened doors to what would otherwise have remained silent, forgotten histories.”
The Best We Could Do is a national best seller and required reading for every entering freshman at UCLA.
Click here to watch and listen to Thi read an excerpt from The Best We Could Do at an Asian American Writers’ Workshop.