Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Immigration Project: A Thank You Letter to my Students

Dear Students,

On Friday you shared your Immigration Statistics Project with staff, administrators and district personnel. All of you presented your work at least 10 times on Friday. And each time you presented with passion and with confidence. And you did it in a language that is not your first language. Some of you just arrived to the United States in November! I am so proud; so proud.

There are many impressive things that happened on Friday. But the best thing was seeing you all share your expertise as immigrants and help educate our school community about immigration issues in the United States. Of course, I’m a math teacher, so I love that you used statistics to help support your work. But I’m even more impressed that you bravely told your story to help the statistics come to life. And you helped us better understand immigration issues in the United States like the economic implications of ending DACA, the proposed border wall, and the assumptions politicians and the media make about the relationship between immigrants and drugs/crime. Our staff is more knowledge about immigration because of the work you all did! I am so proud of you; so proud.

I’ve never seen students work with the purpose and focus that you all had on this project. And, while I know I’m biased, I’ve never seen an entire class deliver such consistently high quality work. Like, every single one of you showed tremendous growth in your ability to talk about statistics with precision and present your findings to the public. I’m so proud of you; so proud.

As I think back to some of the things I heard you all say on Friday as part of your presentations, I get tears in my eyes—tears of pride.

When I heard one of you say, “when we hear people talk about the wall, we feel sad, homesick and angry,” I feel proud of your honesty.

When I heard one of you say, “we think the border wall is racist because the majority of undocumented immigrants overstay a visa and come from Asia or Europe, they do not cross the southern border,” I feel inspired by your willingness to educate others using facts and statistical representations.

When I heard one of you say, “when we hear people say immigrants cause crime, this implies we cause crime and this is not true. We came to this country to study and for a better life,” I had to fight back tears because you inspired me with your courage, honesty and passion. I’m fighting tears as I write this paragraph.

And, Marvin*, when I heard an administrator ask you about a specific graph that was part of your groups presentation, I’ll admit, I listened with a bit of apprehension. I know the last few weeks have been difficult for you—to be honest, if I were you, I don’t think I would even have the resilience to be at school that week. I know you face challenges in your life that make school seem insignificant. But you responded to the question with precision and confidence. As you pointed to the graph you said, with such authority and such perfect English that, “as you can see in the graph, as the years are increasing, the amount of illegal drugs seized at the Mexican border are decreasing” I was beaming. You were constructing knowledge and sharing that knowledge as you explained the graph to the administrator. I am so proud of you; so proud.

I’m proud of all of you for having the courage to speak your truth and tell your story about immigration. And, while I think I could improve a lot on this project for next year, I couldn’t be happier with the results of your work. It would be an understatement to say I’m in awe of the work you did. And I’m grateful for what you taught me and the other teachers and staff members about immigration issues in the United States. Students, you were the experts on Friday. You rightfully owned the day and I’m so proud of you; so proud.

With admiration, love and tremendous respect,

Your Math Teacher

*Marvin is not his real name

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