Sometimes, as in the Kroger checkout line when my teaching badge is still hanging from my shirt, I get lectured. The one that sticks in my head the most: "Those kids should be learning English as their FIRST language! They live in America, for God's sake! I can't believe that's what you do!" To outrageous replies like this, which have been few and far between (thank the Lord!). I have a standard reply that I give that's very calm and collected, factual and straight-forward. Those of you who know me know it takes a great deal to get me riled up about something.
But what I do, the profession that I choose for my life, is one thing that tugs at my heart strings. It is who I am, and it is not something that I always feel is understood outside the world of education. And at this moment in time and with the state of our country, I feel riled up.
So here it is:
For those of you who don't know exactly what I do, I educate immigrant children.
And I love what I do.
The students I teach have immigrated to this country in various ways or for various reasons. Some students have been adopted. Other students' families are fleeing war. Some students' families come for their job or to further their education. Some had no jobs, no money, no way to keep their family above water, so they moved here: the land of opportunity. Some students' families have been here for generations, just like mine and many, many of yours.
It honestly doesn't matter how they got here. I teach them English all the same. I teach them English to be successful in school and to be successful in life. That is my job. Even if it weren't my job and I didn't get paid to do it, I would still be honored to be a part of these families lives and their stories, helping them when and where I can.
You see, it doesn't matter whether these students and their families are Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, or non-denominational. It doesn't matter whether they're from Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Norway, Kenya, Mexico, or Venezuela.
These immigrants--these families---are just like us.
They love, they laugh, they cry, they work, they pray, they get frustrated just like us.
Their religion doesn't define their humanity. Their homelands do not define their humanity either.
As a member of the human race on this planet, I am standing with my students and their families who are immigrants. I support them and I care about them. I'll be damned if anyone decides that because they are immigrants of a certain faith or homeland that they are not welcome in this country.
I am American. I believe in American values and I stand with these immigrant families for now and always.