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Clarkston, Georgia was a regular southern town, until several global refugee organizations decided to relocate people fleeing war-torn countries there. Clarkston soon became one of the United States’ most culturally diverse cities, but with the refugees also came a set of new obstacles and hardships for the old residents of Clarkston as well as the newcomers. The author traveled to Clarkston to document a story about the Fugees, a soccer team founded by Luma Mufleh, who is a Jordanian immigrant, designed specifically for refugee boys living in Clarkston. The book tells of the many obstacles that this team faced throughout their first two seasons in 2005 and 2006, and how they overcame these obstacles together as a team. Another author who had to travel to a different part of the country in order to write a story was Barbara Bradley Hagerty. She went to Berkeley, California to write about Zaytuna College; a college designed specifically for people of the Islamic faith. There she found that the perseverance and dedication of a few people brought joy and a sense of belonging to many others. Both St. John and Bradley expressed through their works, Outcasts United and New College Teaches Young American Muslims, that all people regardless of race, religion, or economic status can achieve success.  
   
Success is the overcoming of obstacles to reach a predetermined goal in life. For example, I have the goals of studying medicine at the University of Alberta and moving to Seattle, Washington. I will have to overcome several obstacles before I can succeed at my goals, they include not having enough money, being away from home, enduring the cold climates of Edmonton and Seattle, and not knowing anyone in those places. The main character in the book experienced a similar obstacle to mine. Luma had to start her soccer program from scratch, but because the parents of the boys had just immigrated into the U.S., they didn’t have money to pay Luma. She really wanted to start the program, but she “couldn’t fund” it and “hardly had time to spare”(St. John 51). Luma went on to work together with the YMCA and the Clarkston Community Center in order to start her soccer academy. Zaytuna College students want to succeed in life, but they have a huge obstacle ahead of them, and that is how the rest of the world views them as a Muslim college. As one of the students put it, “Anything can be misconstrued”(Bradley). The students are trepid that anything out of the ordinary that they do in their college might cause other people in the country to worry about the purpose Zaytuna College. Even though both texts displayed the obstacles of two very different groups of people, they inspired me, as an immigrant, to continue pursuing my goals and overcoming my obstacles regardless of my race, religion, or economic status.

I liked how the book Outcasts United was written. It was like watching a documentary made by one person, because it was written in first person, chronological order, and contained several flashbacks and interviews. It started off slow, talking only about Luma and her life before starting the soccer team. As time passed more and more characters began to appear as they immigrated into the U.S., each character brought a new story with them, which only caused the plot to thicken more and more. In the end everything is tied up, from Luma’s background as a player and a young coach, to the players’ life, and the formation and structure of the Fugees. The author sometimes used complex and smart words, but other times he used slang, which caused the text to have different connotations at different places throughout the book. This was evident when describing a man in one of the fields where the Fugees played as having a “joint in his hand” (St. John 114). The use of such a word indicates that the man was young and informal. Instead of that word the author could have used the term marijuana cigarette. The use of slang and curse words made this book less cogent, however the plot made it an interesting and vehement piece of literature.

As I read both texts I learned more things than just lessons about success. From Outcasts United I learned about a soccer team from the area where one of my parents works, as well as several new soccer tactics, which I have never thought about but in the book they worked. I even learned some Swahili when Grace and Bien were talking. “Yes” in Swahili is “Ndiyo” and “Do you speak Swahili?” is “Unasema Kiswahili?”(St. John 74). From the article about Zaytuna College I learned about Hamza Yusuf, a popular Muslim preacher who I have never heard of before but who supports the idea of the founding of Zaytuna College. The lessons that I learned from both works can be used as future references in other things that I will do later on in my life.

Both texts are well constructed and well put together. I thought that the author of Outcasts United was great, and I will definitely read other books by him. I loved how he introduced every character and did not focus on any single character, which prevented it from being tedious. I also liked the way both raconteurs used facts about their topics to add to their writing. What really enhanced their texts was the way they presented the obstacles faced by people in their books: those students in Zaytuna College, and the newcomers to Clarkston, Georgia.

Reza
9/24/2010

Great job on the essay. I like your voc. use.

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Bailey
9/24/2010

This was a really nice review of the book however your thesis was not in the first paragraph and there is no hook, but besides that you did a nice job

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