CLARKSTON, Georgia—Glassy-eyed and a little flushed, Caryn Moo clings to the collar of her mother’s white tee. The 2-year-old spent her morning at the doctor’s office being poked and prodded because of a bad cold. But now she is here, in the warmth of her school and her mother’s arms, and soon she is fast asleep, snoring a little because of the congestion.
Nae Blut Moo, 33, peers over her youngest daughter’s head as she talks to Jennifer Green, who runs a school in this suburb of Atlanta for refugee mothers and their children. What was a nebulizer? How did she turn these little slips of paper into the medications the doctor had scribbled so illegibly?
Later, Green will accompany the pair to the pharmacy and demonstrate to a group of refugee women how to give a nebulizer treatment.
Moo, along with thousands of other Clarkston residents, is a refugee. Born in Burma, she spent more than a decade in Thailand before finally making her way here, to this town of about 8,000 people from more than 50 countries.
Back in the 1980s and early ‘90s, Clarkston, which sits in the shadow of Stone Mountain, a Confederate memorial and rallying point, was overwhelmingly white. It had been that way since its founding as a farming community in the 1800s. Then, the town was selected as a refugee-resettlement location for its proximity to Atlanta, affordable housing, and jobs at a food-processing plant. The first arrivals were from Southeast Asia, then from the Balkans, followed by Africans and, now, Middle Easterners. In just a couple of decades, the town has shifted to around 82 percent nonwhite.