Winnie Yeung, author of Homes: A Refugee Story, Visits Grade 12 Writer’s Craft
Written by Evelyn Rogan ‘21
Critically acclaimed author Winnie Yeung visited our Grade 12 Writer’s Craft class on December 4. She shared the process of writing her first novel, Homes: A Refugee Story, and the importance of the book.
The novel Homes is the story of Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, a boy who grew up during the ongoing Civil War in Syria. Winnie met Abu Bakr after he and his family had lived in Canada for eight months; she was his English teacher. Abu Bakr’s classmates and his community in Edmonton knew little of the war in Syria and didn’t understand the urgent reasons why his family had to leave. Abu Bakr found it challenging to communicate with his classmates because he knew little English. Abu Bakr began telling his story to Winnie so she could write a speech in English and share it with his classmates. In his speech, Abu Bakr explained that the war and danger in Syria forced his family to leave and take refuge in Canada.
As Abu Bakr shared his past, Winnie recorded his words in her notebook. With effort and time, the project grew from a speech to a novel. In Homes, Winnie shares the experiences of a boy growing up in a warzone, juxtaposing horrible and unimaginable events paired with ordinary childhood hobbies such as playing soccer with friends. Winnie conveys the terror Abu Bakr felt when bombs exploded near his home and when forces attacked his mosque and school.
By sharing Abu Bakr’s story, Winnie provides a window for the world to understand the humanitarian crisis occurring in Syria.