A Place In The World is a feature-length documentary about a small charter school called "The International Community School" (ICS). The school takes on an issue that plagues many communities: what to do for the refugee and immigrant populations whose children are falling behind in traditional public schools. ICS' conclusion: placing these kids together with local American children will allow for a trade-off that, if nurtured and encouraged, will benefit both parties greatly. The school is comprised of about half refugee children and half local American children.
Education in the United States has recently come under much deserved scrutiny from the American public as well as the media. Simultaneously, many public school systems throughout the country have seen their budgets drastically cut and are forced to do more with much less. This dilemma is an especially urgent one for ICS. With a growing refugee population, ICS has become more than just a school - it has become a community that brings together entire families from all over the world. With constantly shrinking means, ICS struggles to provide the resources needed to keep their community strong.
ICS is located in a small suburb outside of Atlanta, Georgia - a place with its own divisive history of acceptance, integration and social change. In a way, ICS acts as a microcosmic laboratory for how we can all get along. The community ICS serves was reported by the New York Times to be "the most diverse square mile in America" where over 60,000 refugees have been resettled. ICS' refugee student body accurately reflects the global sociopolitical climate at any given time. If there is strife and violence somewhere in the world, there are most likely children from that place at ICS. Such a concentration of peoples naturally brings friction. The parents, coming from worlds apart, hold various ideologies, religions and values that come into conflict with one another. The children, whose identities are still being formed, see something very different. They are stretched between two worlds: one of cultural meshing, and one of traditional belief. Despite their many differences, all the families have something very much in common - they want a better future for their children.
A Place in the World takes place over two school years at ICS. It examines how we form our identities and how we can learn from those around us to build stronger communities. The film demonstrates that despite all of the enormous challenges and obstacles facing this country, the United States is still a beacon of hope for so many seeking safety and a better future for their children. The film acts as an ensemble piece following three families with ties to the school, a first-year teacher, and the new principal of the school, as they adapt to and learn from this diverse and complex social environment. The film asks the question of whether we can all learn to live together in this rapidly changing world.