Tuxedo Park School welcomed author and alumni mom, Dr. Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, to a special upper school student assembly over Zoom, in early December. Reading from her recently released memoir, The Cat I Never Named, Amra gave us an intimate view into the Bosnian war and the effect of this insidious conflict on her family. Students understanding of the war was helped by TPS historian in residence, Mr. John Ham, who presented the facts along with a topographical map and some select photographic journalism. Dr. Sabic-El-Rayess shared her personal photographs with the students and her words painted emotional pictures, helping students connect to the book’s characters.
The Cat I Never Named is an incredibly humane and moving memoir of a teen struggling to survive the Bosnian genocide—and the stray cat that provided comfort, and even saved her life many times over. This is a story of survival, war, love, and the metamorphic power of education.
The Cat I Never Named is relevant in so many ways to the conversations that students and families are having around about power, privilege, and prejudice. Students, conscious of these important themes, asked why Amra had chosen this moment in time to share her story. Amra acknowledged the pain but also the courage involved in standing up to ‘othering’ and for the truth. We ended our assembly in gratitude to Dr. Sabic-El-Rayess for sharing her time and her story with Tuxedo Park School, and for reaffirming one of our core values- Be Kind.