An “Unaccompanied” Immigrant’s Story in Video

This video, from the Los Angeles Times and featured on Facebook, is a very touching example of what many immigrant/refugee and unaccompanied youth face….day after day, they work, try to get an education, and stay off the radar. It’s all about the American Dream for them…will they actually ever attain what is rapidly becoming almost unattainable: Respect, a decent living, an education, and a safe place to call home.

Watch and share your thoughts, if you would.

I apologize for the lack of a visual or subtitles (some Spanish dialogue)…the embed didn’t work like it was supposed to. I will repost later with any corrections I am able to make. In the meantime, still quite viewable, nonetheless.

 

Alicia Keys short film: Let Me In

This is a very poignant and beautiful example of what it might be like if the tables were turned, and we in the West were the refugees. I believe Alicia Keys is a great activist spirit, sent from heaven (with a voice to match), and I wanted to share her vision with you here…As another human being who loves and respects all lives, most especially the thousands of refugee lives across the globe, who need our love and compassion, and shelter from the storm. Please watch! Via Upworthy on Facebook.

This video still applies: #BlackLivesMatter

This needs to keep going around, until everyone, everywhere, gets the point. We should not stay quiet in the face of racism.

You Don't Know Me, But You Will...

This video, courtesy of AJ+ via Facebook, pretty much sums up the race war being perpetuated by elite, mostly white forces—under the guise of “law enforcement”– in this country. Two more deaths: #AntonSterling, and #PhilandoCastile.

Now, violence in #Dallas.

If this cycle doesn’t stop soon, it will spill over into everyone’s lives–it already has, to some degree.

But when you have to worry that your child or any of your loved ones could be the next to fall, then you might understand the rage and sadness felt by those who lost someone in these horrible incidents. And exactly why #BlackLivesMatter.

The young poet, Sarah O’Neal, in the video says: Ask us to  be polite, to stay calm, to voice grief with respect…while our brothers’ bodies are laid out in the street, sounding the alarm.

This is not a time to stay quiet.

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I #shOwup for Education

Recently, I read that Global Citizen was starting a movement called #shOwup to give voice to those of us working, in our own small way, to make changes to the world that will hopefully raise awareness and bring an end to poverty in our lifetime. Part of this movement is to educate others, but most especially girls and women. Few experiences in my life mean more to me then the opportunities I’ve had to impact the lives of children from other countries, whose families came to America to save their children from war, economic crises, even genocide.

I have been able to work in the classroom, and as a volunteer, teaching mainly English Language, but also general life skills, like swimming. Last year, each Saturday over 6 months, I worked with a local refugee resource and network organization Iskashitaa.org, teaching English language mainly to adult refugees, mostly women, from countries like Birundi, the Sudan, Tanzania, Mexico, and Bhutan. Along with these lessons, I taught basic math skills involving money, time, and reading a western calendar. I taught them about local resources available to them, and spoken phrases to get the help and assistance they deserve. Often, they would bring their children, and the lessons would include them as well!

This summer, I  volunteered for a week of swimming lessons at the same community residences, teaching refugee kids how to avoid drowning, but also how to have fun in the water. I worked with two other awesome and dedicated volunteers, again through Iskashitaa. I made a commitment to come back after the school year begins, and volunteer a day of homework help per week to the kids of a Somali family. I have come full-circle in this, as I began my service to refugees through Iskashitaa when I was still a novice teacher, back in 2007.

Over the years, I have volunteered when I could, and also made sure to stay educated myself. I have taken many hours of professional development, mostly online and for free when I could. The local University of Arizona Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) department offers many free classes, to teachers as well as students. Currently though, I have taken the big step of going back to college for a Master’s degree in Multicultural Education and ESL (at NAU). I am taking two courses per semester, and incurring more loan debt as I go…but I am hoping it is a means to an end. I’ve decided to dedicate my life to Education, so I felt it was time to increase my knowledge and skills, and hopefully to reach a broader audience.

My eventual plan is to go to another country, perhaps through the Peace Corps, and teach English in a community far from my home. I feel this to be my ultimate mission as a teacher, one I aim to complete before I have to retire (I am already 50 years old, so I need to get on it!). Then I will truly be a Global Citizen.

Teachers

Fear and Loathing in Professional Development

This is a bit of a rant, so I apologize in advance. However, it is not all negative. Let me start with this disclaimer: I actually enjoy (most) professional development  opportunities…hell, I sign up for some I am not even required to take! Summer is a great time to get this out of the way. We even get a stipend, on occasion. And I actually enjoy exchanging ideas and learning new things with like-minded colleagues.

The issue I am going to discuss is more about “professional relationships”.

I am a naturally private person. But, like most people, I want to be liked, or at least shown a little respect. It is difficult for me to put myself in social situations, and pretend to be anything other than myself. Despite the “norms” of a professional development gathering, when teachers get together  in one space for more than a few hours, hackles go up over the most trivial things. Now, multiply those few hours by four days, and you will totally understand the saying “familiarity breeds contempt”.

The human ego is a very fragile thing. I admit that my ego gets ruffled and takes quite a beating on a regular basis. Part of this is because I am a sensitive person, with a tendency to be critical of myself, and sometimes others. I have learned over the years to swallow my pride, and filter my feelings, especially when I think someone is full of shit.

Teachers are notorious for seeking approval and getting on a soapbox. Sometimes I think they are one step away from a career change to politics or acting (and some actually do go there). We all have something to say about something, and we all have years of experience and ideas we are eager to share. At least most of us.

At the most recent PD symposium I attended this past week, which was specifically for ELD and Bilingual educators, we were called “experts” in our field, but we were also expected to listen and learn. Teachers are sometimes not the best of students. They can be found sitting in little cliques, often only associating with those of their preferred social group: Same school, same race, same language. Often, they will be seen chatting and basically ignoring presenters, or worse, they will interrupt with a personal anecdote that is only marginally related to the discussion.

This is to be expected, I suppose. I have found myself wanting to share my personal thoughts on a method or issue of education, and my hand will shoot up, just like it used to when I was in public school. I am not one for attention seeking, as a rule, but when I have a burning question or think I have the answer, I am on it.

This tendency I have is met with mixed reactions. Mostly I get to say my piece, and I am encouraged and acknowledged. Sometimes, I am rebuffed or even ignored. I can take it with some dignity. Now, sit me at a table of individuals with whom I have only a passing acquaintance, and things begin to get uncomfortable. Especially when they start judging you. And you them.

I will cut you Uni

At first, they appear welcoming. They save you a seat at the table. They ask questions about your work, and tell you a bit about themselves. It’s all very cordial and amicable. They invite you to sit with them at lunch break. They ask you what you think about a topic. Everything seems smooth.

Then, as the hours and days drag on, they start to show another side. Personal agendas, attitudes and pet peeves work their way into the conversations. They say things like this:

“I thought you were mad at me when you made that comment” (when maybe you are just hot, tired, or distracted, and give terse responses), or “You really like to jabber don’t you?” (when you deign to volunteer to answer questions for the group), or “You seem competitive!” (when you are supposed to be working on something together). Soon, you begin to doubt yourself, feel self-conscious, and slowly  withdraw.

You look for any excuse to get away from them. Take a restroom break. Get up to stretch at the back of the room. When on break, you seek out other people who seem open and friendly, or alternately sit alone outside under a tree.

Sound familiar? It’s just a typical summer PD that has gone on for too many hours and days, and everyone’s wheels start spinning. Until it is almost out of control, and no one remembers why they even signed up.

Suddenly, it ends. You pack your crap up, say rushed goodbyes, and if cornered, make somewhat insincere attempts at heartfelt farewells and reconciliation. Meanwhile, you are screaming “Get me the hell outta here!” in your brain.

Looking back at the experience, you might believe you would have been just as well informed if they had actually handed you the binder of reading and instructional materials, so you could peruse them at your leisure at home, instead.

After all, you still have about a month left of vacation. Sheesh!

Go to Hell