Book Review: The Middle of Everywhere
The Middle of Everywhere: The World's Refugees Come to Our Town by Mary Pipher is one woman's experience with globalization on a practical and local level. Born and raised in Nebraska, Pipher realizes that the middle of nowhere has suddenly become "the middle of everywhere." She spends 367 pages weaving story after story of refugees in Lincoln, Nebraska into an introduction to "cultural brokering" and globalization. A psychologist by trade, Pipher recognized that she had a skill that could be of service to refugees who were often dealing with serious trauma as they adjusted to their new home.
Befriending refugees and immigrants has become an integrated part of her life as a citizen of Lincoln. She shares not only her insight into the identity and psychotherapy struggles refugees deal with, but also demonstrates how ordinary people can welcome strangers into North America, serving as friends and "cultural brokers." Cultural brokers are simply those willing to act as both teachers and learners of culture. A cultural broker comes alongside a new refugee individual or family and offers to teach them about the ins and outs of American culture while genuinely seeking to learn about the refugee's home culture as well. This friendship goes a long way to establish an immigrant's identity as both a new American who desires to succeed in his new home as well as a proud native of Africa, Asia, or the Middle East.
As globalization continues to increase and refugees continue to flood the borders of safer and more stable countries, this book is a valuable resource for those just beginning to understand their neighbors of a different ethnicity, religion, or color. As the middle of nowhere becomes the middle of everywhere in all places, Mary Piphers are need to serve as cultural brokers and friends to welcome newcomers in every town and state. Only by entering each others lives as learners will we all learn to live beautifully and peacefully together in our middle of everywhere.