I am a U.S. citizen, and I am an immigrant. While my father was on the south side of Chicago studying on a scholarship, my mother gave birth to me in Chengdu, China. She left when I was two to join my father in the States, where they made a living waiting tables while going to grad school. My relatives raised me until I was four, when I was placed on a plane to reunite with my parents.
The transition from being a child in a sea of Chinese homogeny to America’s melting pot was jarring. I was the only student who was neither white nor black, and neither Catholic nor Protestant. I struggled with being bullied because of my background, and still remember the confusion and hurt of being pushed and called a chink. Back then, those kids probably didn’t even understand what they were saying, but they learned the hate from adults around them. in the fourth grade I discovered those with similar experiences; for once my classroom was filled with more first or second-generation immigrants than non-immigrants. My teacher celebrated our differences, and the abilities and talents we each brought. She helped us realize our inherent value and potential as individuals, and also the importance of recognizing the same in others.
Since then, along with many other immigrants, Chicagoland has been my home. As a former public school teacher, tutor, artist, and small business associate, my path has crossed with myriads of people, each encounter educating and broadening my worldview. These people, with upbringings and lifestyles differing from mine, have encouraged me, challenged me, inspired me, and strengthened me. The America I know is more capable and more vibrant because of its diversity, not in spite of it.
Let us support each other, and use what time, attention, and money we can to help those who are not able to be with their families or freely pursue their livelihoods. This past month, I donated to the American Refugee Committee, and contacted my government representatives on issues close to my heart. I urge you to take action, however seemingly small, to create a positive change today.
About the Author: Susie (InsomniaBird) graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Art Education, and was a public school teacher for over four years. Currently, she is a freelance tutor and artist in Chicago, Illinois, and works for two different small businesses. View her art or contact her at www.InsomniaBirdArt.com.
by Lorene Keller Smith
We walked into the restaurant, brought together by two things, our desire to DO something and that we had mentioned this desire to our “fearless leader” who was already setting up a platform to accomplish this. The four of us gathered around the table and, in the excitement of finding like-minded ladies, the ideas and words just started rushing out, everyone talking at once sometimes. We easily drowned out the Superbowl sportscast playing on the bar TVs.
Shortly, the conversation started to feel like a spin-off of the “Never have I ever” game (minus the drinking). In short succession, I found myself challenged with questions like:
My answer to all of these is no, I have not. Why? I could state all my excuses. I was not convinced the protests would accomplish anything. It is not safe to take my kids to a protest. I have a job where I cannot afford to get arrested. Lack of time, lack of money… I could go on, I am sure I have used them all. It is easy to make excuses, it is hard to really effect change.
Lately, I read a lot about the Holocaust and I wonder, would I really have been one to stand up? Or would I have made a few token protests (about what my Facebook posts feel like), and continued on with my life? Being honest, I am afraid it is more likely the second scenario. And that is not who I want to be.
So, like with many of the other challenges I have set myself this year, I am stepping into a new adventure and making an attempt to be the person I want to be. Last night, I told my new friends I want to “DO” something, and I meant it. It is time to share the burden of making the world a better place for all. Just please do not expect to find me looking for heavy machinery to start.
Full time working mother of 3, married 19 years… I want to leave the world a better place for my kids (sounds trite, I know) and teach them to step up to work at making it better… Wiccan/pagan is my religion, it speaks to me somehow… we consider nature our temple, and I always feel better after being outside… Have only lived in the Chicago area for 6 months now (formerly from CT, born and raised)… Find myself looking for something, not even sure what it is.
by Michelle LeBlanc
This video had me in tears... The will to succeed is always welcome here... Yes, indeed. But it had me going long before then. And I am sure you have seen this and maybe you're tired of hearing about the commercial that was "too controversial". But for me, it made me recall all the times I had to overcome seemingly unsurmountable challenges ... Although none of them as huge a challenge or risk as this. The physical exertion is only the beginning of this challenge. Once this figurative mom and child pass the figurative doors, it isn't any easier. Now you're in a brand new country you kind of have to stay hidden from and have no money which makes you quite vulnerable.
Im not saying coming over illegally is the right thing to do - but say you're in a life or death or abusive situation and its your only hope... Wouldn't you risk your life to leave too?