web address: flesl.net/Reading/Stories/Series1/

a person who has left their home because of fear, hunger, etc. to try to find a better life somewhere else

refugee status:
someone who has refugee status is allowed to stay permanently in a new country because of bad experiences in their home country

Refugee Board:
(The Refugee and Immigration Board of Canada) a group of officials who decide whether or not to give someone refugee status

you qualify for refugee status if a government of a new country agrees you should be allowed to stay there

someone is persecuted if they are treated badly because of their religion, skin color, etc.

get into trouble:
do something wrong and get caught (by police, teacher, parents etc)

make up a story:
tell a false story as a way of hiding the truth

(when used in this way) not knowing how things really work (what the world is really like)

above board:
open, honest, legal

apply to immigrate:
do all the right things (filling out forms etc) necessary to be allowed to immigrate legally

must’ve known:
certainly knew

pull strings:
make special, dishonest arrangements to ‘get around’ rules

• drama activities for ‘Estrella Mendez’

• Susana has gone to Estrella’s office after discovering that she and her husband do not qualify as refugees

instructions: study the following dialogue carefully; discuss it with your partner; read through the dialogue again; put it away; using your memory of the dialogue and your imagination improvise something similar with your partner

- Susana: “You told us we were going to be able to get refugee status easily. Now I find out, we can’t! What’s going on?

- Estrella: “But you can get it. You just have to say the right things to the refugee board. ”

- Susana: “But I've found out that to qualify as a refugee, you have to have been persecuted in your home country. We were never persecuted in Argentina. We lived an ordinary quiet life and never got into any trouble.”

- Estrella: “I know that. But you have to make up a good story. I can help you with that.”

- Susana: “You mean I have to tell them a lot of lies!! Why didn’t you tell us that before you took our money? ”

- Estrella: “Come on! Don’t expect me to believe you were so innocent. If you thought everything was going to be open and above board why did you come to me? Why didn’t you just go to the Canadian Embassy and apply to immigrate”?

- Susana: “Well, for one thing, we were in a hurry. We heard if we went to the embassy it’d take a long time, and, in the end, we might not get in.”

- Estrella: “But that’s not the whole story is it? Since you’d already inquired into the whole thing when you first got in touch with me you must’ve known you didn’t have the qualifications to get in legally. ”

- Susana: “No, no! We thought we were going to be able to get in legally. It’s true we were afraid we didn’t have the right qualifications. We thought you might have to pull a few strings for us, but we didn’t think we were going to have to break any laws. We didn’t think we were going to have to lie to the government. We’re afraid of doing that!”

- Estrella: “ What are you afraid of? ”

- Susana: “ Going to jail. Being sent home. ”

- Estrella: “ If you do what I tell you to do everything will be fine. Just give me another $1000 and I’ll make up a good story for you and teach you how to tell it so well that you’ll believe it yourselves! ”

- Susana: “ No, no! You promised you wouldn’t ask for more money. You tricked us! You’re a liar! You’re a thief! We’re going to the police!

- Estrella: If you go to the police, you will end up in jail. And when you get out, they’ll send you home.