Transcript: The Refugee Journey | Jul 26, 2018

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a blue blazer over a striped white shirt.

A caption reads "The refugee journey. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says IN AUGUST 2010, A CARGO SHIP
CARRYING 492 TAMIL MIGRANTS
WAS INTERCEPTED OFF THE COAST
OF BRITISH COLUMBIA.
THEIR DANGEROUS OCEAN CROSSING
THEN LED TO AN INTENSELY
DIFFICULT ROAD TO BECOME
CANADIAN.
WRITER SHARON BALA WAS INSPIRED
BY THEIR STORIES WHICH HAVE NOW
BECOME THE BASIS OF HER FIRST
NOVEL.
IT'S CALLED The Boat People.

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a drawing of a wavy sea with a small boat in the distance.

Nam continues AND SHARON BALA JOINS US NOW FOR MORE.

Sharon is in her late thirties, with shoulder-length straight black hair. She's wearing a blue cardigan over a patterned red shirt, and a silver pendant necklace.

Nam says HI SHARON.

Sharon says HELLO.

Nam says IT'S INCREDIBLE THAT THIS IS
YOUR FIRST NOVEL.

SHARON SAYS IT'S INCREDIBLE THAT
IT'S HERE.

[LAUGHS]

NAM SAYS IT'S SUCH A
GOOD... IT'S... LIKE,
SO MUCH RESEARCH IN IT, THE
STORYTELLING IS FANTASTIC.

SHARON SAYS THANK YOU.

Nam says YOU SAID THAT YOU WROTE THE
NOVEL AS A MEDITATION
ON EMPATHY.

Sharon says YEAH.

NAM SAYS WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

The caption changes to "Sharon Bala. Author, 'The boat people.'"
Then, it changes again to "Charting new waters."

Sharon says OH, WELL, I THINK FOR ME,
PUTTING MYSELF IN THESE
CHARACTERS' SHOES, AND IN
PARTICULAR IN MAHINDAN'S SHOES,
REQUIRED SO MUCH EMPATHY.
THAT WAS THE ONLY WAY I COULD DO
IT, WAS LITERALLY TO FEEL MYSELF
IN HIS BODY AND THINK ABOUT WHAT
THAT WOULD BE LIKE.
HE'S A MAN; HE'S A PARENT.
I'M NOT A PARENT; I'M A WOMAN.
HE'S COME THROUGH THIS HORRIBLE
SITUATION WITH WAR IN SRI LANKA.
I WAS BORN ALREADY OUT OF THE
COUNTRY.
I GREW UP HERE IN CANADA.
AND SO EVERY SINGLE PART OF HIS
EXPERIENCE WAS SO FOREIGN
TO MY OWN... THAT THE ONLY WAY I COULD
WRITE HIM WAS REALLY... TO REALLY
IMAGINE THAT I WAS HIM, AND TO
PUT UP ALL THESE OBSTACLES
IN FRONT OF HIM, AND THEN ASK
MYSELF, WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE
IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES?
AND HOPEFULLY BY THE END OF THE
CONVERSATION, WE WILL HAVE AN
ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION.

[CHUCKLES]

Nam says BUT AS YOU SAID, THE BOOK IS
SENT... SET ON A CHARACTER BY THE
NAME OF MAHINDAN...
WHICH IS A FICTIONAL NAME.

SHARON SAYS YEAH.

Nam says BUT HE ARRIVES ON A BOAT... WHICH ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
IT'S CALLED THE MV SUN SEA.

SHARON SAYS MM HMM, YEAH.

A picture shows a large and crowded boat following a coast guard boat at sea.

NAM SAYS SO, WHY TELL THE STORY THAT WAY?
AND WHY THIS PARTICULAR STORY;
WHAT ABOUT IT?

Sharon says ORIGINALLY, IT WASN'T SUPPOSED
TO BE A BOOK ABOUT REFUGEES OR WAR.
I WAS GOING TO WRITE THE STORY
ABOUT A MULTIGENERATIONAL
SRI LANKAN-CANADIAN FAMILY, AND
I WAS GOING TO SET IT HERE
IN TORONTO.
BUT THEN I THOUGHT... AND I WANTED
TO REALLY WRITE ABOUT
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ONE GENERATION
COMES, AND THEY RAISE A SECOND
GENERATION IN, YOU KNOW,
UNACCUSTOMED TO EARTH,
AND THEN HOW PARENTS AND
CHILDREN DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND
EACH OTHER AND SORT OF THE
DIFFICULTIES THAT CAN LEAD TO.
AND THEN I SORT OF WANTED TO
HAVE THIS BOAT COME ON THE
WEST COAST AND HAVE THE
CHARACTERS HERE TALKING ABOUT
THE BOAT.
AND IT WAS ALWAYS GOING TO BE A
STORY THAT HAD
MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEW.
AND THEN AT ONE POINT I THOUGHT,
ONE OF THE POINTS OF VIEW
SHOULD BE ACTUALLY A PERSON FROM
THIS BOAT.
AND THEN I MOVED THE STORY.
AND THEN WHEN I WAS DOING THE
RESEARCH INTO THE MV SUN SEA,
WHICH INSPIRED THE FICTIONAL
BOAT... THERE WAS SO LITTLE THERE THAT
I REALLY HAD TO MAKE UP EVERY
CHARACTER FROM SCRATCH, SO I
INVENTED THIS CHARACTER.
I GAVE HIM A NAME: MAHINDAN.
I GAVE HIM THAT NAME ON PURPOSE
BECAUSE IT'S A NAME THAT IS BOTH
TAMIL AND SINHALESE.
IT'S ALSO EASY TO PRONOUNCE.
AND, YOU KNOW, ONCE HE CAME ON
THE SCENE,
HE REALLY INSISTED ON BEING THE
CENTRE OF THE STORY.

Nam says WHAT HAPPENED... FOR THE VIEWERS
AND FOR US,
TO GET A BETTER SENSE OF WHAT
HAPPENED...

SHARON SAYS RIGHT...

Nam says THEY'RE ON A BOAT BECAUSE OF A
CONFLICT BACK IN SRI LANKA.

SHARON SAYS YES.

Nam says SO WHAT HAPPENED?
WHY DID THEY HAVE TO LEAVE?

Sharon says SO SRI LANKA HAD... IN 2009, WHEN
THE BOOK BEGINS... THE FICTIONAL
BOOK... SRI LANKA HAD JUST COME
OUT OF A REALLY BRUTAL,
ALMOST 30-YEAR CIVIL WAR, WHICH
WAS WAGED
BETWEEN THE MAJORITY SINHALESE
AND THE MINORITY TAMILS.
AND SORT OF TO GIVE YOU SOME
BACKGROUND: SO IN SRI LANKA,
THESE ARE THE TWO MAIN ETHNIC
GROUPS. THEY HAVE DIFFERENT LANGUAGES;
THEY HAVE DIFFERENT RELIGIONS.
THROUGHOUT MOST OF THE COUNTRY,
THEY LIVE IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF
THE COUNTRY.
BUT IN THE COMMERCIAL CAPITAL OF
COLOMBO, FOR MANY, MANY YEARS,
FOR MANY DECADES... CENTURIES
REALLY... SINHALESE, TAMILS,
MUSLIMS, BURGHERS, THEY ALL
LIVED AND WORKED, YOU KNOW,
SIDE BY SIDE.
THEY WERE FRIENDS.
THERE WERE PLENTY OF
INTERMARRIAGES.
MY PARENTS... MY MOTHER IS
SINHALESE; MY FATHER IS TAMIL.
MANY OF THE AUNTS AND UNCLES I
GREW UP WITH ARE ALSO, YOU KNOW,
IN THESE MIXED MARRIAGES.

NAM SAYS SO WHAT HAPPENED?

Sharon says WELL, WHAT HAPPENED WAS WHEN THE
BRITISH WERE... WHEN THE BRITISH
HAD COLONIAL RULE, THE MAJORITY
LANGUAGE WAS ENGLISH... I MEAN,
THE SORT OF LANGUAGE... THE
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE WAS ENGLISH,
AND THEN WHEN THE BRITISH LEFT
AND THEY CEDED AUTHORITY BACK TO
THE LOCALS, THERE WAS THIS REAL
RISE OF NATIONALISM.
AND NATIONALISM... THIS IS
SOMETHING I PLAY AROUND WITH IN
THE BOOK... IT CAN BE GOOD AND IT
CAN BE BAD.
AND WHAT HAPPENED IN SRI LANKA
WAS A VIRULENT STRAIN OF
NATIONALISM WHICH MADE THE
SINHALESE MAJORITY LOOK AROUND
AND SAY, WHAT ARE THESE TAMILS
DOING IN THESE POSITIONS
OF POWER?
WHY DO THEY HAVE ALL THE BEST JOBS?
WHY DO THEY HAVE ALL OF THE BEST
POSITION IN THE CIVIL SERVICE?
AND SO, THIS VIRULENT
NATIONALISM ROSE UP,
AND ONE OF THE RESULTS OF THAT
WAS THINGS LIKE THE
SINHALA ONLY ACT, WHICH WAS A
LANGUAGE ACT THAT CHANGED
THE LANGUAGE FROM ENGLISH TO
SINHALESE,
TO SINHALA, NOT TAMIL.
AND SO ALL OF THESE PEOPLE WHO
HAD JOBS WHO WERE
TAMIL... TAMIL-SPEAKERS, WHO ALSO
SPOKE ENGLISH,
LIKE MAHINDAN'S GRANDFATHER
IN THE BOOK,
SUDDENLY FOUND THEMSELVES
WITHOUT WORK.
AND SO THEN THERE WAS THIS... SO,
YOU KNOW, THE BRITISH LEFT
AT THE END OF THE '40S, AND THEN
THROUGH THE '50S AND '60S
AND '70S AND EARLY '80S, THE
ETHNIC TENSIONS WERE JUST RISING
AND RISING AND RISING.
AND TAMIL POLITICIANS SAID, YOU
KNOW WHAT, IF WE CAN'T LIVE HERE
WITH EQUALITY, GIVE US OUR OWN
COUNTRY.
SEPARATE OFF THE NORTH AND THE
EAST.
AND SO THERE WAS THIS SEPARATIST
MOVEMENT THAT BEGAN
WITH DIPLOMACY, BUT A YOUNGER
GENERATION WAS RISING UP
WHO SAW THAT DIPLOMACY
WASN'T WORKING...

Nam says AND THOSE ARE THE TAMIL TIGERS?

Sharon says AND THOSE... THEY BECAME THE TAMIL
TIGERS,
AND SO THEN THERE WAS THIS WAR
WHICH BEGAN IN 1983.
IT WAS SPARKED BY THIS
THREE-DAY... SO, YOU KNOW, I SAID,
THE TEMPERATURE WAS RISING AND
RISING,
AND THEN IN JULY OF '83, IT KIND
OF BLEW UP
WITH A THREE-DAY RIOT IN COLOMBO
WHERE THE MAJORITY SINHALESE
TURNED VERY VICIOUSLY AGAINST
THE MINORITY TAMILS.
YOU KNOW, PEOPLE WERE DOUSED IN
PETROL AND SET ON FIRE,
HOMES WERE LOOTED.
AND, YOU KNOW, TO THEIR CREDIT,
MANY SINHALESE HELPED THEIR
NEIGHBOURS AND TOOK THEM IN... AND TRIED TO PROTECT THEM, BUT
IT REALLY WASN'T ENOUGH.

Nam says AND YOU TELL THESE STORIES IN
THE BOOK.
AND LIKE I SAID, IT'S A VERY
WELL-RESEARCHED BOOK.
WHERE DID YOUR RESEARCH START?
DID YOUR DAD HELP YOU IN ANY WAY?

Sharon says I STARTED WITH BOOKS, AND THEN I
ACTUALLY STARTED THINKING ABOUT
MY FAMILY.
AND I LIVE IN ST. JOHN'S; MY
PARENTS ARE HERE, THEY'RE IN
PICKERING, AND SO I CALLED MY
FATHER UP, AND I SAID,
YOU KNOW, I'VE HEARD THESE
STORIES ABOUT WHAT IT WAS LIKE
GROWING UP IN SRI LANKA IN THE
'50S AND '60S AND '70S,
BUT WE'VE NEVER ACTUALLY
TALKED ABOUT IT.
TELL ME ABOUT THE... SO THERE
WERE TWO RIOTS IN THE '50S,
AND MY FATHER LIVED THROUGH
THEM.
AND ONE IN PARTICULAR, THE RIOT
OF 1958,
HE WAS A BOY COMING HOME FROM
SCHOOL ON THE BUS,
AND HE LOOKED OUT THE WINDOW AND
HE SAW, AS HE SAYS,
THE FELLOWS WERE FIGHTING,
AND HE DIDN'T KNOW
WHAT THEY WERE FIGHTING ABOUT.
AND AS A 12-YEAR-OLD KID, HE
THOUGHT IT WAS A LARK.
BUT THEN HE REALIZED IT WAS
SERIOUS AND KIND OF RAN HOME.
AND THE STORIES HE TOLD ME ABOUT
THAT RIOT, I USED THOSE AND GAVE
SOME OF THOSE STORIES TO UNCLE
RAMESH IN THE BOOK.

Nam says IT'S INTERESTING THAT YOU SAID
THAT YOU DIDN'T TALK ABOUT THAT
GROWING UP.

SHARON SAYS YEAH.

Nam says AND PRIYA ALSO HAS THAT SAME
EXPERIENCE...

SHARON SAYS YES...

Nam says WITH HER... HER UNCLE.

Nam says IS THAT UNUSUAL?

Sharon says IT'S INTERESTING.
SO, IN PRIYA'S STORY, THEY
REALLY DON'T TALK ABOUT IT
ON PURPOSE.
THEY NEVER TALK ABOUT SRI LANKA.
IN MY FAMILY, EVERYONE ALWAYS
TALKED ABOUT SRI LANKA,
BECAUSE WE CAME OVER, BUT ALSO
ALL OF MY AUNTS AND UNCLES
AND COUSINS ALSO CAME TO CANADA
AROUND THE SAME TIME.
AND SO I GREW UP HEARING THESE
STORIES IN THE BACKGROUND.
ALL THE ADULTS WOULD KIND OF
TALK AND JOKE AND LAUGH
AND... VERY DARK HUMOUR... ABOUT THE THINGS THAT THEY HAD
EXPERIENCED.
BUT NO ONE EVER SAT ME DOWN AND
SAID:
OK, NOW THIS IS WHAT WE WENT
THROUGH.
BECAUSE I JUST DON'T THINK THAT
THEY WERE... WANTED TO GIVE US
THOSE... I DON'T THINK THEY WANTED
TO BURDEN US WITH THAT.
WHICH IS WHY THEY USED
DARK HUMOUR, I THINK.
BUT SPEAKING WITH OTHER SORT
OF... I GUESS WE'RE FIRST
GENERATION... OTHER SRI LANKAN
PEOPLE MY AGE WHO GREW UP HERE
OR WERE BORN HERE, EVERYONE SAYS THE SAME THING:
YEAH, THEY'RE... THEY SORT OF
HEARD ABOUT IT,
BUT NOT IN ANY SERIOUS, YOU
KNOW,
SIT DOWN AND TELL ME ABOUT IT
KIND OF WAY.

Nam says DID YOU INCLUDE SOME OF YOUR OWN
PERSONAL STORIES IN THE BOOK,
BEYOND WHAT YOU WERE JUST SAYING
ABOUT YOUR UNCLE?

The caption changes to "Horrors of war."

Sharon says IN THE OPENING SCENE, YOU KNOW,
MAHINDAN'S IN THE BOAT,
AND HE'S JUMPING OVER THESE
SLEEPING BODIES TO GET TO
THE STAIRS TO TAKE HIM UP TO THE
TOP DECK... AND THAT ACTUALLY CAME FROM A
STORY THAT I HEARD OVER AND OVER
AND OVER AGAIN WHEN I WAS
GROWING UP.
MY DAD WOULD TALK ABOUT IN THE
RIOTS OF THE '50S,
ALL... PEOPLE LOST THEIR HOMES.
LIKE, TAMIL PEOPLE LOST THEIR
HOMES.
AND MY GRANDPARENTS OPENED UP
THEIR DOORS.
THEY DIDN'T HAVE A VERY BIG
PLACE,
BUT THEY OPENED UP THEIR DOORS
AND SAID,
ANYONE WHO NEEDS IT CAN COME
AND STAY HERE.
AND MY DAD TELLS THE STORY ABOUT
BEING A BOY AND LIKE HAVING TO
HOP OVER BODIES TO GET FROM HIS
BEDROOM TO THE BATHROOM,
AND I... THAT IMAGE, I THINK, WAS
ALWAYS IN MY HEAD.
AND WHEN I WROTE MAHINDAN
JUMPING OVER THE BODIES,
I WASN'T THINKING ABOUT IT
CONSCIOUSLY,
BUT LATER I THOUGHT, OH, THAT
COMES FROM MY FATHER'S STORY.

Nam says AND THE BOOK IS CENTRED, AGAIN,
WITH MAHINDAN,
AND HE HAS A YOUNG CHILD.

SHARON SAYS MM HMM, YEAH.

Nam says AND THERE'S THE LINE THAT JUST
KIND OF LIKE DREW
MY BREATH AWAY.
YOU WRITE:
HOW PRECARIOUS HIS EXISTENCE.
HOW MIRACULOUS HIS SURVIVAL...
WHEN HE'S TALKING ABOUT HIS
SON SELLIAN.

Sharon says YEAH.

NAM SAYS IS THAT HOW IT YOU SAY IT?

Sharon says SELLIAN, YEAH.

NAM SAYS SELLIAN.
HOW DID MAHINDAN GET CAUGHT UP
WITH THE TAMIL TIGERS?

The caption changes to "Sharon Bala. Instagram, @sharon.bala"

Sharon says SO MAHINDAN GROWS UP... SO MY
PARENTS WERE RAISED IN COLOMBO,
AND SO I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE
WHO WERE RAISED IN THE CAPITAL
HAD A LOT OF PRIVILEGES IN THAT
THEY WERE OFTEN EDUCATED IN
ENGLISH AND THEN COULD LEAVE
WHEN THINGS GOT TOUGH,
BUT MAHINDAN GREW UP IN A PLACE
CALLED KILINOCHCHI WHICH IS THE
SECOND CITY UP IN THE NORTH,
AFTER JAFFNA, AND AS HE'S
GROWING UP, THERE'S THIS BACK
AND... BECAUSE THE WAR WAS... EVEN
IN THE NORTH WHERE A LOT OF THE
WORST DAMAGE OF THE WAR
HAPPENED, THERE WAS VERY MUCH A
BACK-AND-FORTH.
THERE WERE PERIODS OF PEACE AND
CALM, AND PERIODS OF CEASEFIRE,
AND THEN PERIODS OF BRUTAL
TENSION.
AND SO, I RESEARCHED
KILINOCHCHI'S HISTORY,
AND I SORT OF PLACED MAHINDAN IN
TIME.
AND SO FOR HIM, HIS LIFE HAS
ALWAYS BEEN THIS SERIES OF UPS
AND DOWNS, AND I THINK SOMETIMES
WHEN YOU ARE RAISED IN A PLACE,
YOU JUST DON'T WANT TO LEAVE.
AND HE DOESN'T WANT TO LEAVE.
AND SO THROUGH THE BOOK, IN THE
FLASHBACK SCENES,
YOU SEE THIS CONSTANT
CONVERSATION BETWEEN MAHINDAN
AND HIS WIFE AND THEIR FRIENDS.
SHOULD WE GO? SHOULD WE STAY?
SHOULD WE GO? SHOULD WE STAY?
AND HE JUST STAYS TOO LONG.
HE JUST STAYS TOO LONG.
AND REALLY, YOU KNOW, THE UN
LEAVES... I'M NOT REALLY GIVING
ANYTHING AWAY FOR YOUR VIEWERS
WHO HAVEN'T READ IT...

The caption changes to "Connect with us: TVO.org. Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

NAM SAYS YEAH...

Sharon says BUT THE UN LEAVES, AND THE SRI
LANKAN ARMY IS COMING CLOSER AND
CLOSER AND CLOSER, AND THEN
FINALLY, IT'S THE END,
AND MAHINDAN LEAVES WITH
EVERYONE ELSE ON THIS EXODUS.
AND THEY MOVE THROUGH THE
NORTHEAST, HEADING EASTWARD.
AND THIS WAS... I WAS FOLLOWING A
JOURNEY THAT A LOT OF TAMIL
PEOPLE TOOK AT THE END OF THE
WAR.
YOU COULD ACTUALLY SEE... THE SRI
LANKAN GOVERNMENT RELEASED
DRONE VIDEO FOOTAGE FROM ABOVE,
AND YOU COULD SEE THIS LIKE
PHYSICAL MIGRATION OF PEOPLE
MOVING EAST.
AND HE JUST GETS CAUGHT AT THE
END, IN THIS CAGE.

Nam says AND WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PEOPLE
CAN BECOME QUITE GRAPHIC
IN THE BOOK.

SHARON SAYS YES.

Nam says THERE WAS ONE SCENE WHERE A MAN
HAS A TRAUMATIC AMPUTATION.

SHARON SAYS YES.

Nam says YOUR RESEARCH UNCOVERED THESE
TERRIBLE STORIES.
HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHAT TO
INCLUDE AND WHAT TO LEAVE OUT?

Sharon says SO AFTER I HAD DONE THE
NON-FICTION RESEARCH... I THEN HAD TO THINK ABOUT THE
EMOTION, AND HAD TO THINK ABOUT
HOW TO CRAFT THE STORY.
AND I ALWAYS THINK: IT'S BETTER
TO WRITE THE STORY THAT YOU
WOULD WANT TO READ.
AND FOR ME, I LIKE TO READ
STORIES THAT HAVE A BALANCE OF
HOPE AND DESPAIR, OF COMEDY AND
TRAGEDY.
AND SO, I LOOK TO OTHER BOOKS
LIKE CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE'S
HALF OF A YELLOW SUN.
I LOOKED TO JOY KOGAWA'S
OBASAN.
I LOOKED TO KIM THUY'S
RU
AND
CHRIS CLEAVE'S
LITTLE BEE.
AND THESE BOOKS ALL DEAL WITH,
YOU KNOW, DIFFERENT THINGS,
BUT WAR AND LOSS AND TRAGEDY.
AND THEY TAKE DIFFERENT PATHS IN
TERMS OF HOW MUCH DARKNESS
AND LIGHT.
AND SO THAT... THAT SCENE THAT
YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT IS A VERY
DARK SCENE, AND IT'S BRACKETED,
IF I REMEMBER THIS CORRECTLY,
BY LIGHTER SCENES ON PURPOSE.
BUT I DID WANT TO... I DIDN'T WANT
TO SHY AWAY TOO MUCH,
AND I DID WANT TO PUT THE READER
IN THIS DIFFICULT POSITION
ABOUT HAVING TO READ DIFFICULT
THINGS...

NAM SAYS BECAUSE THESE THINGS
HAPPENED TO PEOPLE.

Sharon says BECAUSE THESE THINGS HAPPENED TO
PEOPLE.
AND FOR US AS READERS, WE CAN
TAKE A BREAK.
WE CAN CLOSE THE BOOK, PUT IT
ASIDE, READ SOMETHING ELSE,
OR GO AWAY AND THEN COME BACK TO
IT.
BUT FOR PEOPLE IN THOSE
CIRCUMSTANCES,
THERE IS NO BREAK.
AND I WANT... AND PART OF THAT
MEDITATION ON EMPATHY FOR ME
AS A WRITER... WAS FORCING MYSELF TO BE IN
THOSE POSITIONS.
AND SO I THINK... I HOPE THAT
READERS, WHEN THEY READ THOSE
SCENES, THAT EVEN IF THEY NEED
TO TAKE BREAKS, THAT THEY COME
BACK TO IT AND FORCE THEMSELVES
TO CONFRONT THE TRUTH
OF WHAT HAPPENED.

Nam says YOU WENT TO SRI LANKA LAST YEAR.

SHARON SAYS I DID.
IT WAS THIS TIME LAST YEAR,
YEAH.

Nam says SO AFTER WRITING THIS AND GOING
THERE...

[LAUGHS]

NAM SAYS WHAT WAS THE EXPERIENCE LIKE?

Sharon says I SUBMITTED THE FINAL VERSION OF
THE MANUSCRIPT TO MY EDITORS
ON APRIL 3RD OF LAST YEAR, AND
THEN A WEEK LATER,
I WENT TO SRI LANKA.
AND I HAD NEVER BEEN TO THE
NORTH, BECAUSE THE NORTH HAD
ALWAYS... IN THE BOOK, THERE
REALLY WAS A CORDON, AND THERE
WAS A NO MAN'S LAND.
YOU COULDN'T GO UP THERE.
AND CERTAINLY NOT AS A TOURIST.
IT WAS NOT SAFE.
SO I HAD BEEN TO SRI LANKA, BUT
NOT THE NORTH.
AND THEN THE DAY AFTER SRI
LANKAN NEW YEAR, WHICH HAPPENS
IN MID-APRIL, I TOOK THIS CAR
JOURNEY FROM COLOMBO IN THE
SOUTH, ALL THE WAY TO JAFFNA,
WHICH IS ALMOST AT THE VERY
NORTHERN TIP OF THE COUNTRY, AND
I FELL ASLEEP IN ANURADHAPURA,
WHICH IS STILL KIND OF CENTRAL,
AND IS STILL VERY TOURISTY,
AND THEN I WOKE UP, AND THE
LANDSCAPE
HAD COMPLETELY CHANGED.
AND IT... YOU KNOW, THE SOUTH IS
LUSH, AND THERE'S JUST LOTS OF
PEOPLE, AND IT'S VIBRANT, AND
THE NORTH IS VERY DESOLATE.
THE PEOPLE ARE GONE.
THERE ARE NO PEOPLE THERE.
SO, IT'S VERY OPEN SPACES.
AND THEN THE FLORA AND FAUNA ARE
ACTUALLY VERY... IT'S A SMALL
ISLAND, BUT THE FLORA AND FAUNA
ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

NAM SAYS DIFFERENT, YEAH.

Sharon says SO... AND THERE WERE LIKE THESE
OPEN PADDY FIELDS,
AND FARMERS' FIELDS THAT HAD
LEFT TO GO FALLOW,
BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE DEAD OR HAVE
LEFT,
BECAUSE THERE ARE LANDMINES.
AND THE LANDSCAPE WAS STILL
MARKED BY WAR VERY MUCH.
AND IT WAS ACTUALLY... IT'S A VERY
EMOTIONALLY DIFFICULT JOURNEY.

NAM SAYS I CAN IMAGINE, TOO, FOR
YOUR PARENTS.

SHARON SAYS YEAH.

Nam says THEY MUST HAVE BEEN... HOW WERE
THEY...

SHARON SAYS I WASN'T WITH MY
PARENTS, ACTUALLY, YEAH.

Nam says BUT HOW WERE THEY FEELING ABOUT
YOU GOING?

[CHUCKLES]

Sharon says THEY WERE... I THINK THEY WERE
PRETTY WORRIED.
I DIDN'T... SO I WAS IN SRI LANKA
WITH MY HUSBAND FOR A TOTAL OF
TWO WEEKS.
WE WERE IN THE NORTH FOR A TOTAL
OF THREE DAYS, AND ON ALL THREE
OF THOSE DAYS, MY UNCLE IN
COLOMBO CALLED EVERY SINGLE DAY
TO CHECK ON ME, AND I DIDN'T
REALIZE UNTIL... I WAS THINKING,
WHY IS HE CALLING?
I DIDN'T REALIZE UNTIL AFTERWARD
THAT HE WAS WORRIED ABOUT ME.
EVEN THOUGH THERE'S NOTHING TO
BE WORRIED ABOUT.

NAM SAYS YEAH, EVERYTHING...

Sharon says YOU KNOW, THE WAR IS OVER, AND
THERE'S A REALLY BIG MILITARY
PRESENCE UP IN THOSE AREAS.
AND, YOU KNOW, IN FACT, THE
CHECKS THAT ARE HAPPENING... IT
USED TO BE THAT YOU WOULD GET
STOPPED AND CHECKED
ALL THE TIME.
THOSE ARE KIND OF GONE.
AND... BUT WHEN I WAS MAKING THIS
JOURNEY, I WAS THINKING ABOUT MY
GRANDMOTHER MAKING THAT SAME
JOURNEY FROM COLOMBO UP
TO... ACTUALLY TO POINT PEDRO
WHICH IS WHERE MY GRAND... MY
FATHER WAS BORN... WHICH IS THE NORTHERNMOST TIP
OF THE ISLAND.
SO, SHE WAS MAKING THIS EXACT
SAME JOURNEY THAT WE HAD... WE
WERE MAKING, AND I WAS THINKING
ABOUT HER MAKING THE JOURNEY
IN 1946 AND HOW MUCH EXCITEMENT
THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN GOING BACK
TO HER FAMILY TO HAVE HER FIRST
CHILD,
AND HOW I FELT THE OPPOSITE... MAKING THAT JOURNEY NORTH.
I WAS... I WAS SO UNPREPARED FOR
HOW EMOTIONALLY DIFFICULT
THAT WOULD BE.
I SORT OF... IT WAS SO DIFFICULT
TO BE IN A PLACE THAT I KNOW
MEANT SO MUCH AND WAS FILLED
WITH SO MUCH HAPPINESS
FOR GENERATIONS OF MY FAMILY.
AND THOSE PEOPLE ARE ALL... WE'RE
ALL GONE NOW.
WE'VE ALL, LIKE, LEFT SRI LANKA.

Nam says YEAH, AND IT WAS DIFFICULT TOO
TO LOOK AT PEOPLE AND THINK,
WHAT HAVE YOU LIVED THROUGH,
AND THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ME SO EASILY?

Sharon says ONE POINT WE WERE STAYING... WE
WERE STAYING IN A HOTEL IN
JAFFNA, AND ONE OF THE WAITERS
CAME UP TO ME,
AND HE COULD TELL.
LIKE, YOU CAN TELL BY HOW PEOPLE
LOOK THAT THEY ARE
TAMIL OR SINHALESE... AND HE SAID, YOU'RE FROM HERE, RIGHT?
AND I SAID, YEAH, YOU KNOW, MY
FATHER'S FAMILY IS FROM
POINT PEDRO AND WE'RE GOING
THERE TOMORROW.
AND I WAS TELLING HIM WE WERE
GOING TO GO... ONE OF THE THINGS
WE WERE GOING TO GO SEE WAS A
TEMPLE THAT MY
GREAT-GRANDPARENTS HAD BUILT.
AND HE SAID, I KNOW THAT
TEMPLE.
I LIVE VERY CLOSE TO THAT THERE.
I'M FROM POINT PEDRO.
AND I THOUGHT, OH.
IT'S LIKE YOU JUST THINK
ABOUT... YOU KNOW, THE WHOLE
SLIDING DOORS?

NAM SAYS YEAH...

Sharon says YOUR LIFE COULD HAVE BEEN MY
LIFE.

Nam says YEAH, IT COULD HAVE SWITCHED
JUST LIKE THAT.

SHARON SAYS IT'S ALL A LOTTERY...
IS ALSO WHAT I'M TRYING TO
SHOW IN MY BOOK,
THAT THE DICE ROLLS, AND YOU'RE
BORN IN CANADA,
OR YOU'RE BORN IN UGANDA OR
YOU'RE BORN IN SRI LANKA.
THE DICE ROLLS, AND YOU'RE BORN
IN A TIME IN SRI LANKA WHERE YOU
ARE LIKE MAHINDAN'S GRANDFATHER,
AND THERE ARE OPPORTUNITIES.
THE DICE ROLLS AGAIN WHERE, AND
YOU'RE MAHINDAN,
STUCK IN THE NORTH.

Nam says YEAH, OR SELLIAN AS A CHILD
TRYING TO SURVIVE
THAT SITUATION.

SHARON SAYS YES, YES.

Nam says SO, MAHINDAN EVENTUALLY GETS OFF
THE BOAT, AND THEY ARE TAKEN...
THESE REFUGEE CLAIMANTS OR
MIGRANTS.
I'M NOT EVEN SURE WHAT THE
TERMINOLOGY WOULD BE.

Sharon says ALL OF THOSE TERMS.
AND I HATE THEM ALL.
THERE ISN'T A GOOD TERM.

NAM SAYS YEAH, WHY DO YOU HATE THEM?

Sharon says OH, AS A WRITER, I AM SO
OBSESSED WITH LANGUAGE... AND I JUST THINK... I WAS IN
OTTAWA, AND I WAS AT A
LITERARY FESTIVAL IN APRIL ON A
PANEL, AND WE WERE TALKING
ABOUT THIS VERY THING, ABOUT
LANGUAGE.
WHY DO WE CALL SOME PEOPLE
MIGRANTS... PEOPLE WHO COME FROM
THE SOUTH, AND THEY COME UP HERE
FOR A SUMMER TO PICK FRUIT IN
NIAGARA... WHY DO WE CALL THEM
MIGRANT WORKERS,
WHEN WE CALL OTHER PEOPLE WHO
COME HERE TEMPORARILY TO WORK
EXPATS, YOU KNOW?
THAT LANGUAGE IS SO STEEPED IN
CERTAIN ASSUMPTIONS,
AND I... YEAH, SO WHEN I WAS DOING
THE RESEARCH,
THE WORD CLAIMANT, WHICH IS A
VERY LEGALISTIC TERM,
KEPT COMING UP.
THE WORD MIGRANT, REFUGEE,
ASYLUM SEEKERS.
I KIND OF HATED ALL THE
LANGUAGE, AND I COULDN'T... I JUST
COULDN'T FIND GOOD WORDS FOR
THEM.
THEY'RE JUST PEOPLE.

NAM SAYS WELL, AT THIS POINT,
MAHINDAN IS IN
THE DETENTION CENTRE.

SHARON SAYS YES.

Nam says AND THEY'RE BEING HELD IN THE
DETENTION CENTRE TRYING TO
FIGURE OUT WHAT... WHAT HAPPENS,
IF THEY'RE SENT OVER,
IF THEY BECOME REFUGEES.

SHARON SAYS RIGHT.

Nam says AND THERE'S THIS GREAT PASSAGE
IN THE BOOK THAT I WAS WONDERING
IF YOU COULD READ FOR US?

Sharon says YES!

Nam says AND IT'S THE... IT'S THE FIRST
TIME THAT
HE'S ACTUALLY BATHING...

[SHARON CHUCKLES]

Nam says AND THE FIRST TIME FOR HIM
USING A SHOWER.

SHARON SAYS YEAH, THIS IS AN EXAMPLE
OF A TIME WHEN I THOUGHT I NEED
SOMETHING LIGHTER AND SO I PUT
THIS SCENE IN.
THIS IS FROM A SCENE CALLED "A
GOOD PLACE."

She picks up a copy of her book and reads
MAHINDAN STOOD TO THE SIDE AND
CAUTIOUSLY TURNED THE DIAL.
WATER BURST OUT OF THE TAP.
HE PUT A HAND UNDER THE SPRAY
AND FELT IT WAS WARM.
'STAND UNDERNEATH,' THE
NEWSPAPER MAN URGED THEM.
MAHINDAN SAW THE OTHERS
FOLLOWING HIS ADVICE AND DID THE
SAME, HOLDING HIS BREATH AS HE
STEPPED UNDER THE FALLING WATER.
IT PELTED HIM HARD.
HE SWALLOWED BACK A YELP.
ALL HE COULD HEAR NOW WAS THE
LOUD, GUSHING, HOSTILE,
AND UNPLEASANT.
HE RUBBED THE SOAP INTO HIS
SKIN, WORKING UP A LATHER OF
SMALL BUBBLES.
MONTHS OF BLOOD AND WAR ALL
SLOUGHING OFF IN A BLACK RIVER,
RUNNING TO THE DRAIN IN THE
CENTRE OF THE ROOM.
SRI LANKAN HORRORS WASHING AWAY
IN CANADIAN WATERS,
DISAPPEARING DOWN CANADIAN
DRAINS.

She puts down the book and says
SO MY FATHER AND I HAD A LONG
TALK ABOUT... ONE OF THE... YOU
KNOW, ONE OF THE DIFFICULTIES OF
WRITING ABOUT A PLACE AND PEOPLE
WHO YOU HAVE NO ACCESS TO IN
REAL LIFE IS THAT I HAD TO MAKE
ALL THESE SMALL DECISIONS ABOUT
WHAT WOULD MAHINDAN KNOW BEFORE
HE CAME TO CANADA?
AND WHAT WAS HIS LIFE LIKE?
AND, YOU KNOW, EVEN DECISIONS
LIKE: WHAT IS IN HIS BATHROOM
IN KILINOCHCHI?
DOES HE HAVE A SHOWER?
I DECIDED, NO, DEFINITELY NOT.
BECAUSE FOR THE MOST PART, SRI
LANKANS USE...

NAM SAYS USE BUCKETS?

Sharon says USE BUCKETS.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Sharon says AND THEN I HAD TO DECIDE ABOUT
WHETHER OR NOT HE HAD A TOILET,
AS WE UNDERSTAND... WESTERN
TOILET, AS OPPOSED TO JUST LIKE
A CERAMIC, YOU KNOW, TWO
FOOT... FEET THINGS AND YOU SQUAT.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Sharon says AND MY FATHER AND I ACTUALLY HAD
A CONVERSATION ABOUT THIS
WHERE HE SAID, I REALLY THINK
IT SHOULD JUST BE LIKE A
SQUATTING THING.
AND I SAID, NO, I THINK I WANT
HIM TO HAVE LIKE
AN ACTUAL TOILET.
AND SO, YEAH, BUT I KNEW ALWAYS
THAT HE WASN'T GOING TO KNOW
WHAT A SHOWER WAS.

Nam says WELL, YOU TALKED ABOUT THE
HORRORS BEING WASHED AWAY.

SHARON SAYS YES.

Nam says BUT IN ACTUALITY, DO THE HORRORS
OF WAR DISAPPEAR ONCE PEOPLE ARE
ABLE TO MAKE A SUCCESSFUL ESCAPE?

Sharon says I DON'T THINK SO.
I REALLY DON'T THINK SO.
AND I THINK WE KNOW THIS FROM,
YOU KNOW, PTSD, FROM SOLDIERS
COMING BACK FROM WAR WHO HAVE
PTSD.
AND SO JUST IMAGINE IF YOU'RE
NOT JUST GOING TO WAR FOR A
SHORT TIME AND COMING BACK, BUT
IF WAR IS YOUR LIFE.
AND PARTICULARLY IF YOU'RE... IT'S
NOT JUST THE WAR,
AND HE'S ESCAPED, AND THAT PART
IS THE GOOD STORY,
BUT THERE'S ALSO THE TRAGEDY OF
THAT IS EVERYTHING YOU LOSE,
YOU KNOW?
THE PLACES WHERE YOU GREW UP,
THE PLACES WHERE YOU SPENT TIME
WITH YOUR WIFE OR YOU COURTED
YOUR WIFE,
THE PLACE WHERE YOU GOT MARRIED.
TAMILS ARE MOSTLY HINDU, AND SO
THERE WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN BODIES
TO BURY.
BUT FOR MANY PEOPLE, THERE WERE
BODIES THAT WERE BURIED, AND,
YOU KNOW, YOU LEAVE YOUR
ANCESTORS BEHIND PHYSICALLY,
AND KIND OF EMOTIONALLY.
AND I DON'T THINK THAT YOU CAN
JUST GET OVER THAT.
IT DOESN'T REALLY WASH AWAY WITH
THE DIRT, YEAH.

Nam says WE TOUCHED ON THIS A LITTLE BIT,
BUT THE STORY IS TOLD FROM
THREE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES.

SHARON SAYS YES.

Nam says MAHINDAN'S, PRIYA, WHO'S THE
LAWYER...

SHARON SAYS YEAH, YEAH...

Nam says AND GRACE WHO IS THE ADJUDICATOR.

SHARON SAYS YEAH.

Nam says WHAT WERE YOU TRYING TO SAY BY
TELLING THIS STORY FROM
THREE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES?

Sharon says ONE OF THE THINGS I DID WHEN I
WAS DOING THE RESEARCH,
WAS I READ THE CANADIAN REFUGEE
LAW TEXTBOOK COVER TO COVER.
I ACTUALLY READ IT TWICE, AND
THEN I WENT BACK TO IT OVER AND
OVER AGAIN.
AND IT'S SO... IT'S SO COMPLICATED
AND CONVOLUTED, AND I THOUGHT,
THE ONLY WAY TO FULLY
UNDERSTAND IT WAS TO SEE IT
FROM THESE THREE POINTS OF
VIEW.
FROM THE NEWCOMER, FROM THE
PERSON WORKING ON HIS
BEHALF... THAT'S PRIYA... AND THEN
THE PERSON WHOSE... YOU KNOW,
WHOSE HANDS HOLD HIS LIFE.
HIS FATE IS IN GRACE'S HANDS.
AND THEN I MADE A VERY SPECIFIC
DECISION FROM EARLY ON
THAT THE CHARACTER OF THE
ADJUDICATOR WAS GOING TO BE
SOMEONE WHO WAS VISIBLE
MINORITY.
AND I WASN'T QUITE SURE
EXACTLY... LIKE, IT COULD HAVE
BEEN SOMEONE WHO WAS SIKH; IT
COULD HAVE BEEN SOMEONE WHO WAS
JAPANESE.
BUT THEN AS I DID THE RESEARCH,
PARTICULARLY INTO BRITISH
COLUMBIA'S HISTORY DURING THE
SECOND WORLD WAR, IT JUST MADE
PERFECT SENSE THAT IT WOULD
HAVE TO BE SOMEONE OF
JAPANESE DESCENT.

Nam says WELL, GRACE IS THE ADJUDICATOR,
AND SHE HAS TO DECIDE
ON MAHINDAN'S CASE.

SHARON SAYS YES.

Nam says BUT SHE... HER MOTHER HAS TO
REMIND HER OF WHAT HAPPENED TO
THEIR FAMILY...

Sharon says YES.

Nam says WITH THE INTERNMENT CAMPS.
HOW IS IT THAT WE TEND TO FORGET
OUR OWN ANCESTOR'S HARDSHIPS?

The caption changes to "Identity and belonging."

Sharon says OH, PARTLY BECAUSE WE WANT TO FORGET.
AND PARTLY BECAUSE, AS I SAID,
SOMETIMES IF YOU... YOU DON'T
SIT DOWN WITH YOUR PARENTS AND
TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS.
PARTICULARLY IF THERE ARE
TRAUMAS.
WHEN I WAS DOING THE RESEARCH
INTO WHAT HAPPENED IN
BRITISH COLUMBIA TO THE
JAPANESE-CANADIANS DURING THE
INTERNMENT, I FOUND THIS
INTERESTING THING THAT THE
GENERATION WHO WERE INTERNED AS
ADULTS... SO USUALLY THAT WAS THE
ISSEI, THE FIRST GENERATION,
WERE SO TRAUMATIZED
BY WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM THAT
WHEN IT WAS OVER, THE ONLY WAY
THEY COULD GET THROUGH IT WAS
REALLY TO THINK:
FORGET ABOUT THE PAST,
MOVE FORWARD.
AND THERE WAS THIS GREAT LINE
THAT I KEPT COMING UP
AGAINST... COMING UP TO OVER AND
OVER AGAIN, JAPANESE-CANADIAN
PEOPLE SAYING, IT CAN'T BE
HELPED; IT CAN'T BE HELPED.
WE MUST MOVE FORWARD.
AND IT REMINDED ME SO
MUCH OF A SRI LANKAN THING:
WHAT TO DO?
WHAT TO DO ABOUT THAT?
WE HAVE TO ONLY MOVE FORWARD.
AND SO THE THING THAT I FOUND IN
THE RESEARCH WAS THAT OFTEN THE
ISSEI GENERATION DIDN'T TALK
ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED... AND IT WAS THE NISEI
GENERATION... SO THAT'S GRACE'S
MOTHER'S GENERATION, KUMI;
PEOPLE WHO EITHER WERE BORN
AFTER THE INTERNMENT OR WERE
CHILDREN DURING THE INTERNMENT,
WHO DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT HAD
HAPPENED, WANTING TO KNOW.
AND I FOUND ALL THESE GREAT
INTERVIEWS BETWEEN ISSEI PARENTS
AND THEIR NISEI CHILDREN.
EVERYONE'S ADULTS NOW... AND THE NISEI CHILDREN SAYING,
YOU KNOW, LOOK, THEY DON'T EVEN
WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.
THEY WON'T TALK ABOUT IT.
AND THAT GENERATION REALLY
WANTED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.
BUT I THINK IN GRACE'S
PARTICULAR FAMILY,
SHE WAS RAISED A LOT BY HER
GRANDMOTHER,
BECAUSE HER PARENTS BOTH WORKED,
AND SHE WAS RAISED TO HAVE THIS
SENSE OF:
WE DON'T TALK ABOUT THAT.
THAT'S A SHAMEFUL THING.
IT'S A LOSS OF FACE TO TALK
ABOUT THAT,
AND IT'S BETTER TO MOVE FORWARD.
THERE'S NOTHING THAT CAN BE
DONE.
AND SO GRACE IN THE BOOK COMES
UP AGAINST HER MOTHER SAYING,
WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IT.
WE HAVE TO RESEARCH IT.
WE HAVE TO REMEMBER.
AND GRACE SAYING, I DON'T WANT
TO REMEMBER.
AND I THINK OFTEN...
[SIGHS]
WHEN I WAS WRITING THE BOOK, ONE
OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED
IN THE REAL WORLD WAS OUR 2015
ELECTION.
YOU KNOW, CULTURAL VALUES, ALL
THAT KIND OF STUFF.
AND A LOT OF THE PEOPLE WHO
WERE... VOTED FOR THOSE THINGS,
AND AGREED WITH THOSE THINGS,
WERE PEOPLE WHO HAD ACCENTS
THAT WERE NOT CANADIAN.
AND I THINK THIS CAN HAPPEN.
PEOPLE CAN COME, YOU KNOW, EVEN
ON A BOAT, EVEN AS REFUGEES,
AND THEN THEY... A COUPLE OF
DECADES PASS,
MAYBE A GENERATION PASSES, THEY
FEEL VERY COMFORTABLE.
A LITTLE TOO COMFORTABLE AS
CANADIANS.
AND PART OF THAT COMFORT IS
FORGETTING WHAT HAPPENED,
WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH.

Nam says AT THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK,
YOU HAVE THIS GREAT QUOTE FROM
DR. KING WHERE YOU SAY, WE ALL
ARRIVE ON DIFFERENT SHIPS,
BUT WE'RE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT NOW.

Sharon says SAME BOAT NOW, YEAH.

NAM SAYS WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE
TAKE AWAY FROM READING
THIS BOOK?

Sharon says THAT'S THE PROJECT OF CANADA.
WE'RE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT NOW,
AND WE'VE ALL... UNLESS YOU'RE
INDIGENOUS, WE'VE ALL COME ON A
PHYSICAL OR METAPHORICAL BOAT.
AND WHAT I WANT PEOPLE TO
REALIZE REALLY IS THAT... YOU
KNOW, THERE'S THIS THING... IN ALL
THREE POINTS OF VIEW,
A LINE OR A VERSION OF A LINE
GETS REPEATED:
OUR KIND OF PEOPLE.
AND I THINK WE HAVE THIS
KNEE-JERK REACTION, ALL OF US,
REGARDLESS OF SKIN COLOUR, TO
GRAVITATE TOWARD
OUR KIND OF PEOPLE AND TO
OTHER PEOPLE
WHO WE THINK ARE DIFFERENT.
AND THE THING THAT I HOPE PEOPLE
UNDERSTAND FROM READING THE BOOK
IS THAT, WE ARE ALL THE SAME AT
HEART.
WHETHER YOU'RE SINHALESE OR
TAMIL, WHETHER YOU'RE A REFUGEE,
OR YOU'VE BEEN HERE FOR A FEW
GENERATIONS,
WE ALL WANT THE SAME THINGS.
WE ALL WANT THE THINGS THAT
MAHINDAN AND PRIYA
AND GRACE WANT.
TO LIVE IN SAFETY, TO GIVE
SOMETHING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY,
AND TO RAISE FAMILIES.

NAM SAYS SHARON, THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR BEING HERE.

SHARON SAYS THANK YOU, NAM.

The caption changes to "Producer: Jeyan Jeganathan, @jeyantvo."

Nam says IT IS A FANTASTIC BOOK.
CONGRATULATIONS.

Sharon says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Watch: The Refugee Journey