New Hampshire is one of several designated refugee-receiving states. Many of its schools have been experiencing challenges in adjustment for refugees, immigrants and American children that involve a multitude of cultural diversity issues. These require sensitive and thoughtful examination about closely-held values and perspectives. A positive adjustment into American schools and culture and acceptance, respect and preservation for refugee children’s history and cultural background is crucial to refugee children’s social, psychological and academic progress.
Various forums that provide awareness of personal change and growth are foundational for understanding cultural diversity. An holistic approach could address injustice, inequalities, power, oppression, and interdisciplinary examination of historical, political, social, linguistic, educational, philosophical, economic and labor structures.
Creativity and expression through the arts makes us uniquely human; while at the same time can let us discover our commonalities. Assumptions, preconceptions and determinations of another’s view of the world often occur because creative thought and freedom of expression are stifled. Creative arts along with physical activities and living in a residential camp in a wooded setting are familiar and receptive approaches to children that fosters intercultural mutual understanding and respect for diversity.
Putting these theories of expression into practice could transform conflict due to misunderstanding of diversity into mutual respect and community among all peoples. As our societies continue to become more global it is important that our children and we learn how to live respectfully and peacefully together.
With Open Minds has been providing a multicultural camp for schoolchildren that has been a proactive approach to promote a spirit of understanding, build trust and friendships, and reduce prejudice for both children and teachers. It is based on a similar format as many residential environmental and nature-science camps that teach natural science in an interactive, exploratory and interdisciplinary way. Groups involved are culturally diverse school populations, in particular, those with refugee, immigrant and international children enrolled in local schools. Middle and high school students attend for a designated period of time The hope is someday that it will be part of the school's social studies curriculum. All grades could benefit from the experience and program material could be age appropriate according to the grade attending.
The cabin counselors are counselor-facilitators. They participate in an orientation and training prior to camp. During each camp session, they communicate regularly to assist in coexistence dialog sessions and monitor the progress of their groups. They are actively engaged in and have the support, resource and/or assistance of the Core Facilitation Team, which includes the Mediator(s) of the dialog sessions, the Camp Director, the Multicultural Music-Arts Director and the Executive Director of With Open Minds. During everyone’s time at camp non-threatening and non-judgmental approaches to sensitize ourselves are provided. Another future goal is to involve professionals who work with young people to develop their cultural skills along with empathy, respect, and confidence in their leadership and communication and negotiation skills to help ensure peaceful coexistence in classrooms and other places where young people come together..
These aims are carried out through awareness raising activities, group dynamics, community building, human rights education, and conflict resolution and communication skills training. It takes a practice-based approach and integrates theory and practice of human rights and respect. The approach is multi-disciplinary toward cultural awareness and development of respect and value of differences and similarities and attaches equal importance to all cultures.
Teaching respect for human rights and greater understanding among each other has provided the process to put into operation fundamental ways to reverse the cycles of negative, destructive prejudices and conflicts among people based on ethnic origin, religion and life choices/circumstances to values that are more constructive and conduct that leads to improved relationships in our increasingly diverse society. The cultural camp aims to improve individual relationships among children and teach positive social dynamics with groups of mixed cultures. While living together the participants learn intercultural communication, negotiation, conflict resolution skills, teambuilding and leadership. The students have developed a sense of community, confidence in their leadership ability and an appreciation for others that has been carrying over into their school communities.
After it was clear to me that there was a lack of collaboration among Minority owned businesses,technical assistance for first time business owners and a lack of community involvement particularly in the south Miami Dade area,as the president of Unique Home Design,inc(the only Black-owned interior design and manufacturing company in south Dade) i was inspired with a vision to respond to this growing challenge.
To further address the challenge of this lack of collaboration,in the summer of 1999,i identified a small number of Minority business leaders and members of the clergy to establish a quarterly \"Business after hours networking forums\"..The first forum was held on july 23,1999 with more than 105 professionals attending .After this first successful networking gathering,more than 79 calls came in requesting a second forum.
After the success of fourth networking forums,the strategic planning committee made the decision to form a Florida non-profit membership corporation called Unique coalition of minority businesses of south Dade(UCOMB OF South Dade,Inc ).
UCOMB is an organization of businesses and professional men and women,who have joined together to promote,support and provide technical assistance for the growth and development of minority businesses and the youths of south Miami Dade.Today,Ucomb is a powerful membership organization with more than 500 members from 27 nations and our mission is to provide internship opportunities,while obtaining the participation of local minority owned businesses to create on the job professional and career opportunities while building and strengthening local minority businesses .As per Miami Herald and Caribbean Today newspapers ,Jacques is an immigrant who scales obstacles and turns to help others,named in 2003 Minority small business advocate by the Small Business Administration and Best Human Interest Advocate in 2005 by the South Florida Business Journal.
Every day we see broken people come to us at the Springfield Rescue Mission. Every day we see a spark of hope light up in people's eyes when they see someone cares about them. Every day we see lives being transformed through our Christ-centered programs. Every day the Springfield Rescue Mission is working to positively impact Community Development in Greater Springfield. Here is just one of thousands of stories we could share ...
Ask George what he wants for Christmas this year, and he’ll tell you how much he hopes to see his granddaughter. It’s been a long time since the family wanted George around . . . but this year, everything has changed! For over thirty years, George’s life was about one thing and one thing only: addiction. And it was taking its toll. Depression, anger, anxiety . . . George’s days were filled with despair, and he could never hold a job for long. In fact, he was the kind of person most of society gives up on. “He can’t change,” they say. “He’s too far gone.” But as a friend to the poor in Greater Springfield, the staff at the Springfield Rescue Mission knows that with God there’s no such thing as “too far gone.”
“Initially, I came to the Mission because I was hungry,” George admits. But once his emergency needs were met, he began to feel God’s love through our staff and volunteers . . . and something happened in his heart. “This place was completely different from what I expected,” he exclaims. “I was totally surprised. We have tasks to do and they get done, but I don’t feel it’s a burden. In fact, I think we all enjoy it, and we talk about these things together. After years of being a loner, to be able to talk with others here and to relate to them . . . that’s a big change for me.”
Best of all, George says that his life has been transformed by the spiritual care you help make possible. “I’ve learned to fellowship, to see God in a different light . . . to see what He has done and is doing for me. He was the thing that was missing. I’ve found peace of mind through Him.”
After so many years, George knows the changes won’t be complete overnight. “I still get angry sometimes,” he says. “But now I know how to deal with it better.” George will have the time he needs at the Springfield Rescue Mission to grow fully into his new life . . . and back into his family’s lives as well.
The goal of the Springfield Rescue Mission since 1892 has been to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the hungry, homeless, addicted, and poor by introducing them to Christ and helping them apply the Word of God to every area of their lives. The Springfield Rescue Mission is a non-profit, Christian based Emergency Shelter, Rehabilitation Program and Transitional Living Program providing food, clothing and shelter. No person is denied services based on race, creed, gender, or nationality.
As a constant evolving society, there are many differences in our lives that can drive us to believe we cannot relate to our peers. Between our hectic lives and mysterious histories, we tend to find ways to divide ourselves from each other. However, we work hard and build legacies in hopes of providing a better world for the generations after us; specifically, our children. Although there are many biological definitions that can keep us separated, there is one description that keeps us connected: humanity. If we want to see a better world and a better future, we must all have equal access to the resources our country provides. In order to have equal access, we have to acknowledge and change the idea that we are not all treated the same. The issues that need to be changed must be illuminated before they can be eliminated.
Far, far too often we tend to deflect the issues we consider irresolvable.
From experience, I know this to be a dangerous defense mechanism. How do I know this? When I was 17 years old, I became a mother. As an honor roll student, dance team captain, class representative, advocate for our youth, and a volunteer for my city, the dreams I had of achieving success and improving our society did not cease when I gave birth. Everything I once imagined in my future still remained in my line of sight and for the next six years, my life was dedicated to my child’s future. Can we not all relate to this story in some way? All of our parents dedicated their lives to our futures.
Because my journey as a parent started at a young age, I learned a lot about the dynamics of relationships. The adults in my community, who were once my avid supporters, decided to use our differences to divide me from them. Yet, this did not change my hope in society. When teachers, counselors, and the school staff told me I wouldn’t graduate or go to college, I decided to use all negativity as fuel for positive change. This did not change my hope in society. When those who did not know me, decided to regurgitate their morals on me, I used their beliefs as a reminder of the glorious place we live in. Again, this did not change my hope in society.
I took it upon myself to use this experience as an opportunity to shed light on a common issue: the lack of support for our youth. We, who are devoted to our children, forget that we are all children of others. In 2011, I spoke at the Massachusetts State House on Teen Parent Lobby Day in hopes of convincing legislature that teen parents can be successful if they have the support they need. In the same year, I wrote over 30 blogs for ThePushback.org in hopes of undoing the stigma of teen parenting, hosted numerous workshops, appeared on a local show, promoted teen parenting support, and helped found the first summit for teen parents in Boston: STEPPS.
Through my experience as a young parent, a college student, a healthcare worker, an advocate, and a voice for many, I know that my focus is to be proactive, not reactive. I have faith in the dream and I have faith in people. It takes a genuine moment of humanity to realize that we are all brothers and sisters of humanity with similar missions: to promote equity, improve our communities, and to provide our children with a better world.
In order to do this, we must know that we live for each other.
My parents had worked hard to seize opportunities in their lives, saving enough money to provide me with extracurricular opportunities and eventually hire me a tutor. This tutor, a college student from Ghana and the first of many mentors who would enter my life, inspired and worked with me to raise my grades, set goals, and pursue higher education. Over the course of the following two years, mentors and friends (or ‘friendtors’ as we like to call each other) helped me transform my life from a mediocre and aimless teenage existence into an overnight success story: I graduated in the top 5% of my class (after thinking I’d never get an ‘A’), launched climate change advocacy groups at 30+ high schools in California (after never starting an organization before in my life), and was admitted to the University of Chicago on a full-tuition merit scholarship (after thinking I’d never go to college).
In college, I was lucky to meet a group of amazing peers who thought we could mobilize campus resources to provide mentorship to local at-risk youth in a way that could also equip them to overcome financial difficulty. A 2009 study showed that the average net worth of white people in the US is 20 times that of black people and 18 times that of Hispanic people; our university campus community was a microcosmic reflection of this wealth gap, and we wanted to do something about it. We thought: why not take kids from the college investment club and Economics department and place them in local schools to serve as peer mentors teaching basic financial concepts?
My name is Greer and I am 13 years old. I believe in volunteering and helping your community and that that will make our country better. I am passionate about helping animals and in my pursuit to do that, I volunteer with cats and dogs at the Bide-a-wee shelter in New York City. I always wanted a dog when I was younger but my parents said I had to earn it. We had already gone through fish and hamsters and we fostered three abandoned four-week-old kittens. It was time to step it up. When I was 8 years old, my mom and I stopped to pet a dog on the street (something we did often). The owner told us that if I loved animals, we should volunteer at a shelter nearby called bide-a-wee. That day my volunteering began. I started by taking a class for new volunteers where I was told a litter of ten puppies had just been born. For 8 weeks, I socialized the 10 puppies every day after my day camp. I cleaned up after them, washed them, fed them, and taught them what I could. I made sure they felt loved and cared for—and ready for adoption. Socializing the dogs ensures that they become friendly and not aggressive, territorial, or shy so that they can be ready to go to a nice, family. I also walk the dogs and exercise them. If I had to miss a day of volunteering at bide-a-wee, I would be so sad! The manager was so impressed with my dedication that she let me have the pick of the litter. And, apparently, my commitment to the shelter meant I had earned that pup because my parents said I could bring her home. Since that summer, and for the last 5 years, I have spent endless hours taking care of hundreds of dogs and cats, young and old, abused, sick ones including a blind cat, dogs with broken limbs—one was even missing a leg, a cat who had been partially burnt, and a special dog in my heart named Daisy Duck who waddled because her back legs were paralyzed. Daisy Duck didn’t make it, but I have watched so many animals get adopted into loving homes. We now have another dog, Curly, who was about to be euthanized at the Animal Control Center when bide-a-wee, (a no-kill shelter) got the call to take him in. I love animals and I am committed to helping as many as I possibly can.
Since I cannot advertise in magazines or on TV or with big posters around the city, I try to be a walking advertisement and educate the people I meet, on the issues of animal cruelty, stray animals, shelters, euthanizing of animals, and puppy mills. I wrote a persuasive letter to the President about how puppy mills should be banned and how animal cruelty should be considered a more serious criminal offense. I sent the letter to him, hoping he will hear my cry for help, since the animals cannot speak for themselves. Now that I am a little older and in 8th grade, I can start to raise money for the shelter. Through my school I am beginning to work on having every student who goes to an afterschool dance or event, bring food, blankets, toys, and litter to be dropped off before entering the event. These items are sorely needed. Also, I have given money I earned (not enough) to the shelter.
I had to learn about what it meant to give unconditionally. This realization was a big moment for me because as a kid it’s all about the love you get and about the giving that comes your way. It is about getting, not giving. As one matures, one finds two different kinds of love: selfish and unselfish. The kind of love I have for the shelter dogs is unselfish and that is the most fulfilling. How ironic that when I started volunteering I thought that I would be helping the dogs. Instead these animals really helped me find the true meaning of giving.
It is something that has been instilled in me through selfless example, spanning as far back as my memory allows. I learned the resilience and humble pride of the 'American Dream' through the actions and convictions of my Grandparents, two Irish Catholic children of the World War II era. While I consider myself one of the few members of my generation to be immediately shaped by their teachings, I almost feel as if it's my responsibility to bestow the same lessons and moral code upon future generations of Americans. Their bleeding-heart Liberalism, mixed with strong ethics, pride, and reverence for their country have been the biggest motivations for me to become interested in politics. I want to politically engage young people like myself, so that I can share my love and appreciation for MY America, and ultimately for the people who taught me what that is.
I was one of the blessed ones, I grew up in a paycheck-to-paycheck family that supported and encouraged me my whole life. I was given both opportunity and humility, which is a good as it gets. In my junior year at college I decided to sign-up for the Jumpstart Program in Boston – at the time it was a work study opportunity I jumped on at the last minute; I didn’t know then how profoundly it would impact my life. I was assigned three kids, ages four and five to supervise for four months. Each had a unique personality and set of challenges. There was one young man that I really connected with. He was four years old, eager to get to five. He was energetic and at times out of control. He loved to paint in order to make a mess, recess in order to run and sing to jump up and down. Reading was a challenge because his patience was thin. When I first started working with him I often felt helpless, and gregariously reading the most entertaining books could only keep his attention for so long. Over time he calmed and opened up about his young life – he told me stories, anecdotes about his family and all about his parents who were African immigrants. When my time in the program ended I watched him graduate from pre-school. He was mature yet still energetic – and his most frequent phrase was “I’m ready for kindergarten.” My parents instilled in me some great lessons and values – and I’m proud to say I passed them on.
“All men created equal;” The United States of America has come a long way from when the Founding Fathers left it. Woman have obtained most equality under law, but the glass ceiling still exists. It is most evident within the elected officials of our government. For the past five years the United States has been ranked in the high 70s and 80’s for woman involvement at the government level. In 2010 17% of the members of Congress were woman and women numbered 23% in the state legislator. In 2012 there are not only fewer woman in American politics but most of the woman who are elected to office do not decide to run until they are much older. Unfortunately, by that time they lose the power of being able to create seniority within congressional offices to chair committees, and therefore make higher level decisions.
My American Dream as 21 year old rising Senior in College is not just to point this out to the public but to take action. I owe this conviction to the non-profit 501c(3) organization Running Start. Running Start’s mission is to get young woman interested in politics by giving them the opportunity to interact woman in high level political offices, to learn the inner workings of how a political campaign works, and to improve the skills to make confident strong leaders, all at either a very low cost, or simply no cost at all. I participated in their week long program when I was 17 years old. I entered the program with minimal political knowledge (I knew who the President was) and came out with a whole new perspective on my career path, and goals in life. I began college believing in myself and did not fall back on the phrase that many woman fall into to justify not running for office, “I am not qualified enough.” Although I had not participated in student government in high school, I knew that it was never to late to make a difference. In the past 3 years I have become President of my dorm, the Treasurer of the Communications Politics and Law Association, the Secretary of my Student Government Association and learn, and a Producer on the largest all student run live production in the nation.
I am not certain if I will run for office, but with the support of organizations like Running Start, my own college community, and all of my friends and family, there is one thing I am certain of, I am qualified
Every student remembers that teacher who made a difference in their life. For me, that teacher also happens to be my mother. Of course, my mom has shaped my life in many more ways than one; she nurtured me, disciplined me, and provided the safe environment in which I grew up. But through her career as a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher, my mom has also taught me the meaning of “public service.” My mom believes that by teaching she is preparing a better and more prosperous future for all of us. When she introduces a student to a new novel, she believes that student will grow up and become a best-selling author. She believes that the fourth grader in her science class today will discover the cure for diabetes or cancer tomorrow. And she believes that the girl who writes her a paper about Abraham Lincoln will someday aspire to become President of the United States. My mom’s career as a teacher has inspired my own choices and decisions. She raised me and provided for me throughout my childhood. Now, she continues shape my future by imparting to me her ideals of public service.
I was born in Ghana. None of my parents were educated. Not even first grade. I came to this country straight out of high school, with the goal of educating myself to the doctorate level. For some thirty years, I lived, worked and also went to school in MA. I am not going to bore you with the details of my story. Just imagine a poor teenager in this country alone, with what appeared to be such a lofty dream at the time. In any case, I am at the end of that incredible journey. I am receiving my Ph.D. this May. Yes, this is still a land of opportunities. You just have to believe.
I use to take seriously science fiction stories that would say we wouldn't be in 2012 struggling with the dirt we are on these days. Of course the worst part of science fiction did not fully happen (yet, but looks is on the way), but the good part looks even more remote these days.
I believe this is not a coincidence but seems to me the powerful corporations establishment (both financial as well as others) like it better business as usual and mankind progress is not in their goals.
Very sad, and something that only the people can do something about it but it is very tough to fight for progress against the establishment.
My father was the first in his family to attend college. From French-Canadian immigrant families, his and my mother's family worked in textile mills in northern New England. Both parents served in the military in WWII and both continued to work with veterans groups all their lives. Children of immigrants who grew to adulthood during the 1930s, they had a hard time with my choices to become, stay, and pursue a career as a musician.\"Can't you get a real job?\" they asked. \"What about your security?\" I fought for my choices and at 63, have been a professional musician, music teacher and publisher for 40 years. Do I make a lot of money? You must be kidding! Am I happy now with the choices I've made? Very. I raised a daughter who chose musical theater as her career and she too is following her heart with my full support. I can't say enough about the importance of doing that. I wake up happy every day because of my music and my sense of personal satisfaction is very high. And then, people all over the world count me as a teacher, music colleague and friend, I have two recordings on the Smithsonian label and I received a 2008 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists' Fellowship in the Folk Arts. I manage well on a small income because I never bought into the consumerism of most of my generation. I believe that if money is your only measure of success, your life is lacking in so much joy and spiritual depth. Looking back now on the choices I've made, the only change I would make is to more fully commit to my choice earlier in life rather than waiting until I'd tried many other ways to \"make a living\". It comes down to the difference between making a living and making a life. The second one turns out to be far more important.
I used to dream about gigantic yachts and houses made of marble and glass; about how once I was rich I'd have it all. I was admittedly shallow and clearly deluded. My American Dream did not hold the connotations of motivation and dedication that it had for generations before me; everything was provided and life was a breeze. Now, as I graduate college, I have a much more realistic sense of this world, and what I should hope to accomplish. I will work hard and prove my worth. For now, my dream is simple: pay rent on time and be happy
The American dream, to me, is the pursuit of a better life for
ourselves and our families. How one pursues their dream is as unique
to the individual as one’s DNA. However, there are millions in this
country that never even get to the part of having a dream, let alone
pursuing one. For many, finding a way to survive tomorrow is
From my own standpoint, I want to pursue a life in public service. I
want to be part of something bigger than myself and help give people
who have never had a dream a chance to live one. We live in a country
where nothing is promised, but anything is possible. Sure, timing and
good fortune plays a role, but from a general perspective, one who
works hard will have the freedom of pursuing their goals. That said,
we are getting closer to a society that is so divisive that we’re
destroying the ability to dream.
Dreams have become territorial and political. We have a Congress that
cannot come together to pass simple laws because of manufactured
Kulturkampfs. The truth is we all want to pursue a better tomorrow,
and that requires our leaders to think beyond the latest squabble
inside the bubble. To revive the dream, we need better public
servants. My generation, the 20-somethings, ought to take this
opportunity to grab hold of their collective future.
I was born of two parents who just barely received their college diplomas. It took my dad eight years to complete his education at Syracuse University in the 60s, departing halfway through to volunteer as a medic in the army during the Vietnam war. My mom moved to New York from California at 20 years old with nothing but sixty dollars in cash and managed to pay her way through New York University by waiting tables in Times Square. Despite their many struggles as young people, they became a successful businessman and high school librarian, respectively, and raised a daughter in New York's suburbia who spent her young life attending fantastic public schools and playing on various town sports teams - a relatively normal childhood compared to her parents' struggles. However, as a relatively apathetic teen, Senator Barack Obama's campaign for change took hold early on in the primary season of 2007, when I was a junior in high school. Complaining of seemingly \"irrelevant\" courses and receiving poor grades out of pure teen angst, the Obama campaign sparked a part of me that sought a larger purpose and I spent many weekends for the next year making phone calls and knocking on doors, enlisting the help of my peers, to get Senator Obama elected as president of the United States. While Barack Obama's victory was an incredible moment in our nation's history, and probably my fondest memory of senior year of high school, I would have taken something away from that grassroots campaign whether he'd won or lost. As a seventeen-year-old, not even able to vote, I had a seat at the table and a voice in a campaign that empowered me to become a more engaged citizen and a strong believer in the American Dream, not only because of my parents' experience, but because of my own.
When I think of the American Dream I think of my family. I am a first generation American. My grandfather immigrated to America from Ireland in the 1950’s to find work to support his family. He became a chef in Boston and eventually saved up enough money to send my grandmother, father and uncle over to the states to start a new life. A better life. Slowly but surely they settled in and worked their way up in society. My father worked a successful job, met my mother and eventually graduated from college while working full time to support our family.
I am continuing to live that dream. My family taught me the value hard work. From an early age I was taught that if I wanted to get anywhere, I would have to earn it. I started working when I was 15, scooping ice cream after school and sports practices. I tried hard in school, knowing that bad grades would not get me anywhere. I didn’t want to let my family down.
I’ve recently finished college, one of my life’s goals and it feels amazing. I know not everyone is as lucky as me to receive great education. My dedication to working hard has paid off. I currently work my dream job as a reporter for a major newspaper. I’m only 22. I hope from here things will only get better. I know this would not have been possible if my family didn’t decide to follow their dreams and come to America, the land of opportunity. Anything is possible in this country. If you work hard you can succeed.
The concept of generational responsibility and the hard work that goes into improving our lives and the lives of others was instilled in me from birth by my parents. My father was my prime example and especially instrumental in shaping my life and career. As a leader in New York’s Puerto Rican community, he worked both at the grassroots level and with elected officials to improve the lives of our community. He was admired for his commitment, leadership and genuineness. The lessons I learned from him continue to drive me personally and professionally, as do the inequities I witnessed and lived through growing up in the housing projects of the South Bronx. These inequities persist to this day in neighborhoods, cities and towns across the country. I share my father’s quest to work to make the American Dream a reality for everyone, using systemic approaches that have long-lasting impact. It is why I’ve spent my career in organizations focused on serving others in the areas of education, health, social services and community empowerment. Changing systems to improve lives is one of the most challenging reforms one can take on, but as my father always said: “Nothing worth doing is ever easy.”
While the idea of the American Dream seems cliché to some, it is what has continuously defined my family’s story. My parents came to America with little money and no understanding of the language or culture. Despite seemingly insurmountable challenges, they took a leap of faith that America had a place for them, that they had something meaningful to contribute to a country that was already the envy of millions around the world, and that however ordinary they were, they too could do something extraordinary in building a better life for themselves and for their children. My parents spent their first few years in America traveling between the spare bedrooms of their friends and family who had immigrated before them. My mother worked at a Laundromat, while my father worked a newspaper delivery route by day and took classes at night. After years of hard work and moving up the ranks, my parents were given an opportunity to move to Boston and start a New England edition of the newspaper. At first, the Boston branch operated out of a backroom of a Chinese bookstore. My parents invested everything they had, including every ounce of their time and energy, into that newspaper. Today, more than two decades later, that paper has become the largest Chinese newspaper in all of New England. For many Chinese immigrants in Boston, it is their sole source of information on national and local news. It is their connection to their local community, and the primary means by which they become civically engaged in their new home country. My parents’ hard work has not only culminated in the achievement of their personal American Dream, but also has helped hundreds of thousands of other Chinese immigrants in Massachusetts assimilate to life in America and move them one step closer to realizing their own dreams. Through years of hard work and unyielding determination, my parents were able to completely transform their lives, contribute to and make a difference in their community, and deliver to their children the American promise of limitless opportunity. Their story constantly inspires me to give back to the country that has given my family so much. It is their American story that propels me towards a life of public service- to use my blessings to make my parents’ story possible for more people.
My grandfather’s were both World War II veterans, one of them fought at the battle of Iwo Jima and was lucky to be one that survived. My uncles all joined the service and everyone in my family is in public service. My Uncle Bobby a fire fighter, my Uncle Joey a letter carrier, my Auntie Linda a nurse, my sister a 7th and 8th grade history teacher, my Mom a kindergarten teacher, and my Father a middle school principle. My Parents have specifically chosen to work in Lynn, an urban environment with limited resources, but they chose it because they believed that is where their skills were needed the most. I have been raised in a family where I have always been taught that we are blessed to have the resources we have and it is our responsibility to give back to others and sometimes that involves sacrifice of your own needs and wants. My family has been able to live the American dream, and has been motivated to work in public service because they were only able to do what they do because of the opportunities government and the generations before them provided. My grandfather and grandmother purchased the home where they raised their family with GI bill benefits. My father was able to put himself through college because he could work two jobs a semester and pay off his tuition, something that is unattainable now. And my mother, my aunt, my sister and I are all able to make choices for ourselves because of the thousands of the women before us that fought for equal rights for women that ultimately lead to women’s right to vote and many pieces of legislation that government passed to ensure equal access for women.
The American dream is something that my family was able to attain because of the support of government and because of the sacrifices the generations before us made to create a more just and equal society. A society where anyone, no matter their race, creed, or gender could pursue opportunities that would allow them to fulfill their dreams and create a better world for their families- A belief that if you work hard and the opportunities exist than you can achieve the American dream. My concern for the future of the American dream is if the opportunities will be there for people to better themselves and their families. I have seen in my generation a selfishness that did not exist in my grandparents or my parent’s generation and I have seen government become so divided that the opportunities for people to better themselves and fulfill the American dream are becoming fewer and fewer.
When we elect elected officials we expect them to be creative to find solutions to our biggest challenges and we expect them to represent our values and work hard to protect those values. I understand that this can be complicated because we all come from different backgrounds and all have had different experiences, but there are human commonalities that bind us all, and have for hundreds of years in this country. Maybe it’s because I am 25 and young and hopeful about the future or maybe it’s because the history of this country has always shown me that we can come together and overcome some of our greatest challenges, but I do believe that we will come together and get through these difficult times. both parties, and all Americans need to put aside their differences and focus less on who is “winning” and focus more on the values that have always guided us. Government isn’t going to solve every problem and it shouldn’t, but Government is necessary and has a role to play in our lives. Let us have a civil conversation about what that may look like, let us be ok with compromise and not see it as failure, weakness or losing, but rather as what is best for the common good and let us always remember the sacrifices millions of American’s have made to make this country what it is today. I believe that if we do this us than the American dream can become possible for all those that wish to attain it.
Anybody who knows my grandma, Eileen, calls her fiery. She’s the kind of person who says what she thinks no matter what. Originally from New York, she and my grandfather, Sam, moved down to Winston-Salem, North Carolina because that’s where my grandfather got a job after the Second World War. They were one of the few Jewish families living there. They loved living in Winston-Salem, but it was a very different place before the Civil Rights Act. One time, my grandma sat down to eat with a black woman who was working with her. Another woman, a white woman, ran over and told her that she shouldn’t be sitting at the same table as a black person - that people could see them mingling together and would start to “talk.” My grandma told her she can, and had the right, to eat with whomever she chose. Another time, the Ku Klux Klan decided to put up a propaganda-style installation in the local public library, trying to get away with it by calling themselves a “social club,” and my grandparents joined with others to protest. Eileen was active in the civil rights movement, and I grew up hearing about how she’d drop the kids at the neighbors place, go and picket whatever the local integration issue of the day was, then go home and make dinner. “That’s just what you did,” she said. She knew that by fighting for civil rights for all people, she would make a better life for herself and her family. She believed the Civil Rights Act would help bring more opportunities for every minority -- Jews included. But beyond the belief that equal rights would help her family, she knew that joining in civil rights struggles was just the right thing to do -- that all people living in America should have the opportunity to live the American Dream.The core values that made my grandma stand up in the South are the same ones that guide my family and me living in Massachusetts today. My grandma raised my mother, and in turn me, to stand up to injustice and fight for causes that lift all boats. She made it clear that we have a generational responsibility to make the world a better place for those who follow us. That's why today I work to make healthcare more affordable for all here in Massachusetts, and why I will keep those values alive for the next generation.
We Americans are citizens of a global minority. We join those who live in a select few countries as participants in a social experiment called freedom. Holding an American passport allows us the freedom to speak what's on our on tongues, the freedom to believe what's in our hearts, and the freedom pursue the dreams that flood our minds. This how I understand the American Dream and I have experienced it firsthand.
There is a nasty stereotype associated with third generation immigrants. It is said that the first generation arrives to a new place, works hard to feed their family, and ensure that their children receive the best education possible. In light of their family's hardships, the second generation studies diligently and enters a professional field like
law or medicine. The third generation enters the world entitled, as part of a middle to upper-middle class family, and cruises through life comfortably with minimal effort. I am a third generation immigrant, and I strive to wrong this stereotype.
Raul, my business partner, and I devised the idea for Miayos in the summer of 2009. Like so many other Americans who pursue their business ventures, we treated Miayos as if it was our child. Nearly 3 years later, we can can proudly say that we, as sons of immigrant families, have launched a company that we can call our own. People
congratulate us, and celebrate the fact that we have overcome the stereotype and embraced the American Dream.
For us, this is only a stepping stone. We realize the hardships the majority of people around the globe experience everyday: no access to clean water, lack of food, and unsanitary living conditions are just the first that come to mind. Because of this realization, we do not rate our success by our profits. We cannot fulfill the American Dream until we know that we have helped people who do not hold our like-passport, do not have the freedom to speak what's on their tongues, do not have the freedom to believe what's in their hearts, and do not have the freedom to pursue the dreams that flood their minds.
By using a portion of Miayos's revenue, we will extend the reach of the American Dream as far as we can, and only then will we reach our own American Dream.