Once Stuck in Places Like Myanmar and Laos, Refugee Children Kick-Start Education at MPS’ Newcomer Center

Erin Sivek’s students are prepping for the big show.

They’ve been drafted to perform “The Great Race,” the mythic account of the creation of the Chinese zodiac, as part of their school’s annual Chinese New Year celebration.

So, on this day, she’s running them through their paces.

The emperor, she explains, has announced a great race for all the animals, the winners of which will be featured on the zodiac. And one by one, the students step forward, scripts in hand, and read their parts.

This could be any classroom in any school in Milwaukee. But listen closely to the chatter of the children as they wait their turns and it’s clear it is not. Interspersed with their halting English, they speak Rohingya, Burmese and Kiswahili to name a few.

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