Rebecca Slaby, Kao Kalia Yang, and Khou Vue sit on a stage. Khou speaks into a microphone as Rebecca and Kalia listen. Kalia holds a copy of Caged in her lap.

Making the World Beautiful: May/June 2024 Newsletter


Dear AmazeWorks community,

May was a busy month at AmazeWorks! We hosted a successful book launch for Caged, a story of a young Hmong girl born and raised in a refugee camp who imagines what lies beyond its borders. Thanks to community members like you, we also raised $15,315 for the brave teachers of AmazeWorks and beyond. 🤗 To catch up from our busy schedules, we’re combining our May and June newsletter. We’ll be back to our regular schedule at the end of the summer on August 29.

Inspired by the quote above, the story Caged, and the June holidays rooted in liberation, this newsletter celebrates the beauty and freedom created by and for harmed communities. While different identity groups face vastly different hardships, there is a common thread of finding joy among those who have faced deep injustice. From children in refugee camps to marginalized groups worldwide, imagination has been a vital force in creating spaces of liberation and connection. As we continue to build a more complete understanding of historic oppression, we are also grateful for the world that imagination and authenticity have created for so many.

As you read through this newsletter of anti-bias reflections and resources, we encourage you to ask yourself: what makes your world beautiful?

AmazeWorks in the Community: Caged Book Launch

People gathered to hear Kalia read her book Caged

On May 30, AmazeWorks and East Side Freedom Library celebrated the launch of Caged, written by Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Khou Vue. Kalia’s words never cease to amaze us, and we’re so grateful to have witnessed Khou’s debut illustrations. A heartfelt thank you to East Side Freedom Library for cohosting this wonderful event, Birchbark Books for handling book sales, and everyone in attendance who brought so much heart to this space. We’re so lucky to have so many people who make our world beautiful. ❤️📚

Featured Book: Caged

written by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Khou Vue

Book cover of Caged by Kao Kalia Yang, picturing three children flying in the sky alongside yellow birds

This story is about a young Hmong girl born and raised in a refugee camp with her family. Refugees are people who have been forced to leave their homeland because it is no longer safe to stay there. A refugee camp is a place where some people stay, sometimes for many years, while they wait for their immigration papers to be approved by a new country, so they can move there.

The girl spends time playing with her cousins and pretending she can fly away from the camp. When her family’s papers are finally approved, it’s time to leave the camp. She is unsure about leaving the only life she’s ever known, but she’s ready because her wings finally arrived. 🦋

Dive into the AmazeWorks lesson’s reflection questions, journal prompts, activities, and more to bring belonging to life in your home or classroom. 🌟 

Ethos in Action: A Practice for Cultivating Your Anti-Bias Mindset, Skills, & Tools

Try these extension activities from the AmazeWorks Caged lesson to reflect on the experiences of refugees and immigrants:

  1. Invite children to create a sign that welcomes newcomers to your community. Ask them to consider what would feel welcoming to them.
  2. Invite children to write a poem that welcomes refugees and immigrants to your community.
    • Educators: Create a class poem or have small groups create poems together. Invite students to share in reading it aloud to incorporate multiple voices.
    • Caregivers: Write a poem with your child by alternating lines, phrases, or even words.
  3. Reach out to organizations in your community that support refugees and new immigrants.
    • Educators: Invite someone in as a guest speaker.
    • Caregivers: Learn about the organization together. Use this learning to continue the conversation.
  4. Learn more about Hmong history and culture. Encourage your students/children to learn more about Hmong history and culture. Use resources available/recommended by the Hmong Cultural Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. They have a museum and library you can visit if you’re in the area, and their website hosts many great resources.



Pride Month

Featured Program: AmazeWorks Book Sets

AmazeWorks Book Sets, featuring a smiling young adult with Black, curly hair and rainbow colors painted on their cheeks. Book covers for five picture books are displayed.

AmazeWorks Book Sets help educatiors and caregivers:

Each set contains 5-6 books and accompanying AmazeWorks lessons, including discussion questions, journal prompts, activities, and more. 

Guide intentional conversations on different racial and LGBTQ+ identities with confidence. Check out our website to see our book set library and bring this transformative resource into your school or home!

Organization Highlight: Oromo Diaspora Media

Oromo Diaspora Media (ODM) is a nonprofit news organization dedicated to engaging Oromo, Ethiopian, and East African residents of Minnesota and beyond. ODM provides reputable and relevant news in Oromo, the primary language for thousands of Minnesotans, many of whom do not speak English. Their videos reach thousands of viewers, bridging a crucial gap left by other Minnesotan media outlets.

CEO Eticha Fufa believes that one of ODM’s most impactful services has been combating misinformation about COVID-19. ODM produced videos dispelling vaccination myths and featuring community leaders receiving the vaccine. They also created videos explaining how to take rapid tests, addressing the lack of written instructions available in Oromo. “These people should feel they are Minnesotans,” says Eticha. Accessible media is essential in making this possible.

Wondering how you can support ODM? They are seeking high-quality equipment for their studio, such as high-speed computers and HD cameras. If you would like to contribute or receive more information, please contact Eticha Fufa.

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