Classroom Resource: Birth Water

Why do people leave their homes and what is the impact of the journey on the way people live their lives in the aftermath of that experience?

South Sudanese poet Bigoa Chuol’s writing builds upon decades of flight and exile, questioning the true meaning of home for refugees and displaced people. Her poem “Birth Water” is at once a person reflection on her roots and ideas of belonging while also a more universal reflection on the impact of war.



Reflection Questions

  • Begin with the Text:
    • There are many ways to engage the text of Chuol’s poem, one way to allow students to make their own meaning of the poem is through the see-feel-think-wonder thinking routine.
    • What words or images, from the poem resonate with you? Why?
    • Why do you know about the experience of refugees from her poem? What do you think she wants the reader to understand?
  • Stepping Back and Connecting:
    • What does home mean to you?
    • What is the relationship between safety and home?
    • What role do homes play in our lives?
    • What is necessary for someone to truly feel at home?