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“Outcast United” is a book written by Warren St. John who was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama where he attended the Altamont School and late studied in Columbia College for his English literature. He is married, and with a daughter with whom they live in New York City in the United States of America. The book surrounds the life of refugee boys who live in a small town known as Clarkston which is outside Atlanta who have formed a football team under the guidance of a woman coach.
The story reflects the challenges faced by our quickly changing world and which reminds us the power of togetherness and believing in what we do. The book spans between three main areas which are the team known as the team, the town and the coach. The team known as the Fugees comprises of boys from different backgrounds and countries like Congo, Burundi, and Sudan among others who were resettled by the UNHCR to the small town of Clarkson Atlanta. After the support from the government was withdrawn and the refugees left to fight for their survival and the boys were caught between two worlds, they turned to their passion, love for soccer.
The town of Clarkson, home for the fugees team has maintained its independence despite the fact that other small towns like it have been swallowed by the growing city. It has its own motto “small town…big heart.” The coach Luma Mufleh, found herself in a country she barely knew, just like the refugees and all alone. Due to her determination, she chose to help the boys in gaining or having proper soccer programs. She faced many challenges in bringing boys of different nationalities to play together as a team and even faced odds as being the only female coach dominated by male coaches. All in all she managed to change the lives of the boys and the town at large.
Many criticize the inability of the author to write about the game of soccer and the redundancies and restatements of information as this is seen where the author tries to write about the boys’ game. The author does not go into details of his characters and this is a very big problem with narrative writers. The reader should be given details of the characters in the book in order to be able to visualize the character in his mind. Giving minor details will leave the reader not to know who the main character is and what the whole plot of the book was all about. In the book of the outcast united, it is hard to know what the real issues of the writer was, the refugee issues, immigration, or soccer (John, 2010).
1)Is communication is explicitly addressed in the book?
Communication is a means through which one can pass information to the other. Despite the different communication barriers between the refugees because of their different backgrounds, they had a way they could understand each other. A soccer language is simple to understand and if one is keen, he can be able to get the information through the body language or gestures of the spokesman. I can say that communication was explicitly addressed in the case of the Fugees team as the understood each other will on the pitch since they could coordinate their passes and win most of their games even though they coach did not scream at them as the coach of the North Atlanta (John, 2010).
2)Is communication is accurately and adequately addressed in the book?
For communication to be effective it has to be accurately and adequately communicated otherwise there could be confusion or misunderstandings. In my view of the book of outcast united, the Fugees team communication was accurately and adequately communicated as this led to win after a win in their games. The team could understand it other effectively despite the fact that they had different cultural backgrounds which resulted in them having to understand different languages different from the other (John, 2010).
3)What information is of value for students studying small group communication and team-building?
In every group of individuals or people, there must be understanding among the group members for them to move forward. It is therefore important that there exist a nice channel of communication through which each member can get the information passed accurately and adequately. Team building entails cooperation, determination and hard work with a focus in achieving the group goals and every member should aim at achieving such goals (John, 2010).
4)What does the book teach us about inter-cultural communication?
Different cultures have different languages and it is therefore hard for one to understand another person from a different cultural background without forming or having a common language to use. In the book of outcast united, the people living in Clarkston, Atlanta were from different cultural backgrounds, some were white, others were Africans, Muslims. These people hard to communicate and this led to them to develop an understanding in their communication. This was achieved through body movements and gestures (John, 2010).
The book teaches us that we can be able to understand what is being communicated to us with someone who does not speak our language or international language by taking keen interest on the way their body parts moves or their gestures. Also the book teaches us that language is a big barrier to communication and one should at least be able to learn any of the international languages for effective communication to different people with different cultural backgrounds (John, 2010).
5)Has the content of this book, changed your perception of the world? If so how? If not, why not?
The book as really changed my perception of the world in that have learnt what people have to go through in order to survive on a day-to-day basis. It is so saddening to learn how people have to flee their homes in order to protect their own lives and for the people they care for. I will always count myself for not going through what the refugees had to go through.
The book has helped me to perceive what people encounter in new areas or countries with a hope of making their lives better. For instance, once the immigrants get a U.S visa, they become so happy but they do not what awaits them when they get to their destination in terms of environment, culture and work they are going to do. Once they reach the U.S, this is when the truth hits them; they have to do any work which comes their way to survive.
It is important that one should dynamistic in any area he finds himself in. One should not think that moving from one area will be better than where he is now since it is difficult in adjusting to new surroundings than coping with the already accustomed area. In the case of the book of outcast united, the refugees thought that going to America was like heaven to them but at the start they found out that it was more of hell than what they expected. Were it not for Luma and their willingness to accept change, their miseries could have continued. Finally the book has helped me to be able to appreciate people’s cultures, beliefs and their backgrounds as this is a basis through which one is able to understand his neighbors. With the dynamicity of the world today, it is hard for one to choose the people to work, study and even neighbors, so it is important to be open minded and being able to understand the people in your surroundings. It is important that no matter our different backgrounds, a way should be in place of how one lives with his neighbors and respecting their customs (John, 2010).
6)What did you learn overall from reading “Outcasts United”?
From book of outcasts united, one as a lot to learn about in this changing world today. For instance, one has to appreciate different cultures and beliefs of the people surrounding him any the society he lives in. in doing so he is able to interact with them freely and can be able to exchange positives views about life. Also understanding one’s background is important in that one can be in a situation to help such people who might need his help in achieving their goals in live. Have also learnt that it is the future does not entirely rely on the past but what one strives to do in the present in achieving a better future.
From the book of outcast united I have learnt about the social and economic difficulties of adapting to a new culture and what challenges faces a town with new and desperate population. The games of soccer can bring together people of different cultural and religious differences and difficulties of adapting to the new town. The brighter future does not come on a silver platter but needs one to work harder on in and believe that he is capable of achieving it through hard working and focusing and not let people who stand on his way to deter him from achieving the goals. Selflessness is virtue if one has to put interest of others first in helping them achieve their goals and dreams. This is through putting self-goals for the better of a group goal which may be much better off than if one tried to achieve his dreams. In the case of the book of outcast united, coach Luma could be better off if she put her self-interest first. Being a graduate, she could had looked for a better job in a nice city and live a comfortable life but she never did that and put herself interest behind and concentrated on a group goal, of helping the refugees and their family. At the end coach Luma achieved more than what she could have gained had she taken her self-interest. She is now a heroine to most people and the refugees raised their standard of living through her help.
In conclusion, the book of outcast united is an inspirational book which makes one to reexamine oneself before judging others. This has led to one being able to live well with his neighbors even if they are from different cultural backgrounds. The book also highlights what people have to undergo in meeting their day- to- day survival. The sacrifices made by some in protecting their own lives and their families to an extent of abandoning their homes to go to uncertain area where they do not know what live is like in such areas.
Sometimes it is better to sacrifice own goals and ambitions to help those who really need your help. This might be challenging but with determination one is able to overcome the barriers which might come his or her way. In the case of “outcast united,” Luma made sacrifices of her own ambition to help the fugees. She had to go through many struggles but with her determination, she helped the fugees to achieve their dreams which were a worthy sacrifice for a graduate woman from a wealthy family (John, 2010).