Summer Reading Program
Outcasts United: An American Town, A Refugee Team and
One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference
by Warren St. John
ABOUT THE BOOK
In the 1990s, Clarkston, Georgia, became a resettlement center for refugees from war zones in Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to help keep Clarkston’s boys off the streets. These boys named themselves the Fugees — short for refugees.
Outcasts United follows a season in the life of the Fugees, their families and their coach as they struggle to build new lives in a town overwhelmed by change.
CHECK OUT THE BUZZ
Here’s what members of our selection committee have to say:
Even though Outcasts United is on the surface a story about soccer, I loved this book because it is about so much more than that. It’s about the growing pains that traditional American towns experience when an influx of refugees moves in. It’s about the challenges refugee families face when they move to the United States. It’s about the great things that can be achieved when, like Luma Mufleh’s soccer players, you commit to working hard and being disciplined. It’s about not taking ‘No’ for an answer when fighting for what you believe is right. This is a powerful book that skillfully interweaves the personal stories of the soccer players and their coach with a macro-level view of immigration and assimilation in America. — Suzanne Klonis, Director of Institutional Research
Outcasts United is a moving story of refugees who rise above overwhelming odds both on and off the soccer field. I believe this book is a particularly good fit for MHC’s Summer Reading program because of the important roles of community service, athletic participation, and “responsible citizenship in the community, the region, and the world” in Mars Hill College’s identity and mission. — Adrienne Akins, Assistant Professor of English
Outcasts United was a beloved book with every member of our committee. This book not only shows the importance of learning to be part of a team, but it also examines the difficulties of being thrown into a new situation. This will relate directly to the freshmen as they begin their journey through their first year of school. — Chelsea West, Class of 2015
We hope you find the book as amazing as we did, and that you come to campus in August with a few ideas about it to share with the rest of the campus community.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Warren St. John has written for the New York Observer, The New Yorker, Wired and Slate, in addition to his work as a reporter for The New York Times. His first book, Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania (2004), was named one of Sports Illustrated’s best books of the year, and ranked number one on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of the best books ever written about collegiate athletics.
His second book, Outcasts United, was published in the U.S. in 2009, and subsequently in the U.K., The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Japan and China. St. John was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and studied English literature at Columbia College in NYC, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.
ABOUT THE COACH
Luma Mufleh was born in Amman, Jordan, came to the United States to attend college, and moved to Decatur, Georgia after graduating from Smith College.
She is founder and director of Fugees Family, Inc ("The Fugees”), a non-profit organization devoted to working with child survivors of war. Mufleh founded Fugees Family in 2006 and is currently head coach of the Fugees soccer teams. She has received numerous awards, including the Search for Common Ground Award, the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, and the Smith College Medal for her work. She has appeared in NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and The New York Times.