Luma Mufleh @ The Mount — Learning America



The Mount (2 Plunkett St., Lenox, MA 01240, Lenox MA)

Luma Mufleh comes to Edith Wharton’s house and gardens to talk about her newest book, Learning America: One Woman’s Fight for Educational Justice for Refugee Children.

It was a wrong turn that changed everything. When Luma Mufleh—a Muslim, gay, refugee woman from hyper-conservative Jordan—stumbled upon a pick-up game of soccer in Clarkston, Georgia, something compelled her to join. The players, 11- and 12-year-olds from Liberia, Afghanistan, and Sudan, soon welcomed her as coach of their ragtag but fiercely competitive group.

Drawn into their lives, Mufleh learned that few of her players, all local public school students, could read a single word. She asks, “Where was the America that took me in? That protected me? How can I get these kids to that America?”

Learning America traces the story of how Mufleh grew a group of kids into a soccer team and then into a nationally acclaimed network of schools for refugee children.

“[From] an influential educational leader and activist…an impassioned, penetrating critique and inspiring model for progress.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

In its 29th year, The Mount’s annual Summer Series highlights recent books and writers in an eclectic mix incuding stories of historical figures and contemporary underrepresented voices.

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Luma Mufleh is a Syrian/Jordanian entrepreneur, coach, and thought leader in refugee and English Language Learner education. The daughter and granddaughter of Syrian refugees, Luma grew up in Amman, Jordan, where she was one of the only Arab students in her class at an American school, and one of the only girls who played on her soccer team.

As a young adult in a country where being gay was considered a crime, Luma came out to her parents and was disowned. In 1993, she came to the United States to attend Smith College and graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology in 1997. Granted asylum in the U.S., Luma navigated the broken immigration system to build a life for herself — opening a coffee shop and coaching soccer. In 2006, she founded Fugees Family, the only network of schools in the U.S. dedicated to refugee and immigrant education.

Luma is empowering refugee children to use their voices to reclaim and tell their own stories – shifting the narrative around refugees away from the current fear-mongering frame to one of courage, resilience, and creative potential.

Luma completed the Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 2019, Luma was named an Emerson Collective Dial Fellow and a Manhattan Institute Civil Society Fellow.