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The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community
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The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  598 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Over the past decade, Mary Pipher has been a great source of wisdom, helping us to better understand our family members. Now she connects us with the newest members of the American family--refugees. In cities all over the country, refugees arrive daily. Lost Boys from Sudan, survivors from Kosovo, families fleeing Afghanistan and Vietnam: they come with nothing but the des ...more
Paperback, 408 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Mariner Books (first published 2002)
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I spent part of my summer teaching English to Burmese refugees at a local robot-uniform factor (yes, I did say “robot-uniform”! Who knew the intense need for such textiles?!?) They were a delightful bunch, and I loved every minute I spent with them – gleaning from their perseverance while imagining the sorrows they carry. This experience spurred me to read Mary Pipher’s book The Middle of Everywhere: Helping refugees enter the American community.
What I most loved about this book was Pipher’s pr
Many residents of Lincoln, Nebraska may not be aware of the ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity within our small city's borders. In a town of under a quarter million people, we have immigrants and refugees who speak over 50 different languages. This book, written by an acclaimed psychologist/author (and Lincolnite), sheds a light on the experiences and often-traumatic back stories of our city's many residents who came here to seek safety from oppression, violence, and fear of death.
Ms. Pi
I had a love/hate relationship with this book. The author, who is a psychologist, claims she is giving everyday people practical advice about working with refugees, and she tells a lot of personal stories about the people that she has worked with, some of which are really beautiful stories. But she doesn't really offer much practical information about global migration and refugee resettlement as a larger issue/system, which to me trivializes her personal stories because I think the larger pictur ...more
Kathleen Quaintance
Come on Dr. Pipher. Seriously? This was nowhere near a book that tells the truth about an issue and weaves together personal stories, such as Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. But this?? Excuse my French, but I am shocked Dr. Pipher's back isn't broken from sucking her own dick. Like, there were so many irritating qoutes in this that shouted HEY IM A DOCTOR AND IM A THERAPIST AND I LOVE MYSELF AND BEING A WASP IS WHAT I DO AND I DONT SEE COLOR!!!! AND DIVERSITY IS COOL WOW I ...more
I LOVED this book. Pipher's analysis was right on, as usual. She made me take a searching look at my own cultures & beliefs. Are there good things? Of course. Are there things I would change? Definitely. I will probably buy a copy & read this one again.
Polly Karis
I have such great respect for Mary Pipher and this book was a gift for me. I have scribbled notes in the margins throughout my own copy; there are tabbed stickies for easy access to specific topics - a sign of a true reference book. I'd just begun mentoring Burmese refugees when I came across this gem. Mary Pipher refers to working with refugees as being a cultural broker. She uses stories from her own mentoring experiences and tells us about what refugees are up against - the stuff that's not s ...more
It took me months to admit that I'm not going to finish this. But I'm not--I found it disappointing at nearly every turn, and waiting for it to improve didn't work in the slightest.
There were a lot of good stories, but I started to lose a little interest halfway through because there were almost too many stories. Many of the stories of refugees were extremely similar and everything became very repetetive. Also, I wish I had a nickel for every time the author said something like, "While they were in war, I was drinking coffee" or "While they were being tortured, I was planting a garden". Those aren't real quotes, but you get the point.

Overall, as a resident of Lincoln, NE,
"The United States is a series of paradoxes for newcomers. Every plus is married to a minus. It is the land of opportunity and yet the opportunity is often to work in a meatpacking plant. Newcomers have fled war zones for the safety of our country but, in the United States, they often find themselves in our most dangerous neighborhoods. They are in a country with sophisticated health and mental health care but often cannot afford even the most basic treatments. They come for our wonderful educat ...more
"The worst thing about America is its exclusivity, and the best thing about America is its lack of exclusivity."

This book is a collection of stories about refugees who have been resettled in Lincoln, Nebraska, about their culture shock, about their own cultures, about cultural differences and ultimately, how very much the same we all are at our cores.

However dated this book is, having been written pre-9/11 and 9/11 being an event that would very likely have had a major effect on the stories, t
This is one of my new favorites. The Middle of Everywhere gave me a different perspective on immigrants and especially refugees. Mary Pipher lives in a large Midwestern town which has recently been overrun by refugees from several countries all over the world. Pipher is a therapist, and one of her jobs is to help these refugees adjust to their new lives in the United States. I can only imagine how overwhelming this culture would be to someone who has never seen a television or a highway! She tri ...more
I work with refugees every day and my eyes and heart have been opened in so many ways and I was interested in the bigger picture of their experience in America as a whole. This book is written by a psychologist in a small town in Nebraska who becomes active in helping the global refugees and also befriends and cares for them deeply and personally. Their stories are heartbreaking and hopeful; and the author’s evaluations have given me insight into my own patients and their experiences in a broade ...more
This was a really fascinating picture of refugees in the United States. Not only do the stories Pipher tells give me a glimpse at someone else's life and culture, but they also challenge the way I perceive my own. The experiences of these refugees from all over the globe and the new challenges they face in the US offer something of a reflection of our own culture, changing as it is with globalization. My only problems with this book are the first and last chapters-- the author gets a little prea ...more
Beth Britnell
This book brought me to tears more than once. Every self-entitled moron whining about not getting the latest electronic gadget should have to read this book. I never really thought much about what happens with refugees once they get here. It's amazing and heartbreaking, particularly the stories from the teenagers and children. It's a bit old (late 1990s, early 2000s) but well worth the read. I kept wishing a happy ending for everyone.
This book was an interesting peek into the lives of refugees in America through the eyes of psychologist and "cultural broker," Mary Pipher. I liked her stories about her personal relationships and experiences with refugees and their families. I also enjoyed learning about how Lincoln, Nebraska, has turned into an unlikely (or at least unexpected) multicultural hub in the U.S.

The last third of the book was a bit dull and seemed to lack a specific point ("racism is bad," "home is where the heart
Psychologist Mary Pipher (a fellow Lincolnite!) delves into the local refugee populations and the difficulties they face in integrating into American communities. We so rarely consider what newcomers have had to go through to get here, or the overwhelming cacaphony of changes they face once they arrive -- new language, new laws, new standard of living, new cultural expectations ... If you've traveled at all, spending a week whipping out a phrasebook to ask the simplest question (and returning th ...more
This book is full of heart-breaking and uplifting stories about refugees resettling from their war-torn countries to Lincoln NE, an unlikely location but increasingly "the middle of everywhere". This book as functioned as a touchstone and guide in my own interactions with the refugee population in Fargo. I lifted a phrase to start my own manuscript; refugees, Pipher tells us, move "from fire to fire". Life in America comes with its own tremendous challenges and risks. She also taught me "that gi ...more
I thought this book was fantastic! If you work as a teacher, in schools, on missions….anywhere there are refugees, you should really read this book. It is beautifully written. “In cities all over the country, refugees arrive daily. Lost Boys from Sudan, survivors from Kosovo, families fleeing Afghanistan and Vietnam: they come with nothing but the desire to experience the American dream. Their endurance in the face of tragedy and their ability to hold on to the virtues of family, love, and joy a ...more
Emily Slomski
The Middle of Everywhere is an amazing book that opened my eyes to a largely unseen world. While I was aware that thousands of refugees come to America seeking asylum, I hadn't really thought about the implications. I hadn't thought about the fact that this horrible situations are happening every second or that there are refugees throughout the country and the world struggling to survive. For anyone who wants to learn more about this large and inspiring group of the world's population, I highly ...more
I found this book morally and spiritually helpful in considering what it means to be a neighbor, a citizen, and a human -- among other humans. Lofty words, but there's something very humbling and exciting about reading the stories of refugees and realizing that America's acceptance of refugees is in many ways what makes us America and Americans. Most of us came from some place else and now live in the middle of everywhere. With the pressure to "live in the now" and always strive, how to we remem ...more
76 pages in and i abandoned ship. too choppy, too scattered and reads too much like a laundry list at times. not to mention inaccurate information regarding the refugee resettlement process.

i really wanted to like this book- it's about refugees! and resettlement! and the people who come here seeking a new start!- but i just couldn't slough through it.
Beautifully, clearly written. Pipher explains how thousands of refuges are being sent to live in out-of-the-way towns in the the middle of the country, where they must try to adapt and start new lives, learn a new language, adapt to a culture that couldn't be farther from home. It's an inspiring book; it does a great job helping those of us who've been in the US our whole lives begin to understand the challenges faced by newcomers. And hopefully that will make us more compassionate and inspired ...more
Mary Newcomb
Just as I was planing to read this book an issue developed at a community meeting about resource allocation for refugees. Do you suppose my colleagues who decided we would all read this book expected that bit of serendipity? I enjoyed reading about the experiences of refugees in Lincoln Nebraska--not dissimilar to that in my community. Pipher has some clear expectations that the reader supports refugee relocation, she writes clearly and with passion. I have found myself recommending this book tw ...more
Very good message!
Jun 23, 2008 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone, but especially teachers
Recommended to Karen by: found it on the library shelf with the new books
I read this back in 2006 and recommended it to my book club. This is a thought provoking book. Pipher is an amazing writer but she pushes us to think about ourselves, our choices, in the global community, by looking at how we act in our everyday lives. Understanding that being accepted into and assimilated into America for refugees of global catastrophes is accomplished by Americans learning about, reaching out to these refugees and listening to their stories. Go pick up a copy of this book . . ...more
This is such a good book. It's excruciating because I/you! have it so good and often forget that. It's about refugees arriving in Lincoln, NB from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and their lives and stories the author comes to know as a psychologist often requested to help them. Cultural brokers, that's what is needed. It's taking me awhile to read it in-between books but it's the life stuff I love. I wish this was required reading for 8-12th graders here and of course adults!
A few years ago a friend recommended Mary Pipher's "The Middle of Everywhere" to me. It took me a while to actually pick it up and get into it, but now it is one of my favorite books. Pipher describes the transformation of her hometown in "the middle of nowhere" Nebraska refugees from around the world begin moving in, turning her sleepy town into "the middle of everywhere." I found this book to be accessible, funny, sad, informative, and ultimately very moving.
Recommended by Mary Etta Parkinson; I am glad I took the time to read this important book. It gave me a lot of insight into the world of the refugee, and admiration for all they go through, not only to get here, but to survive once they do. Our American way seems strange to many refugees- and it isn't always better. They are a group to be admired, and I definitely came away with a greater understanding and increased empathy for these brave courageous souls.
Although I read this for a course I was taking, it is a book I highly recommend. For anyone who would like to gain a better understanding and awareness of refugees and immigrants in their community, this book is an excellent resource. Well written, easy to read, inspirational and hopeful, the book outlines ways that we can act as cultural brokers and assist newcomers in adapting to life in the US while avoiding many pitfalls.

This is a book I read three or four years ago, yet I find myself thinking about it constantly, especially with more and more immigrants and refugees settling in the Columbus area. These are the people whom many Americans view with downright hostility or simply choose to ignore; for me it was so eye-opening to hear stories of the circumstances that bring refugees to America, and the struggles they face after they arrive here.
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