Sunday, March 4, 2012

Defining Courage: Undocumented Student Stories

We want to give a big shout out and much thanks to the leaders of the Border and Immigration Ministry at St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church in Tucson, AZ, who brought us to facilitate a workshop about ScholarshipsA-Z and the DREAM Act.  Special thanks to Suzanne H., one of our biggest allies. While the session was inspiring on many levels, everyone in the room shared in a moment of tension brought about by the words of one workshop participant.  With pure certainty and excitement that his "counterpoint" would change the conversation, he shared with frustration that undocumented students from Mexico should not be here, and instead "go back to their own country and fix it."  

Although it was clear that most participants and all of our team members were triggered, we did not dismiss his fears.  (And they truly are fears) Instead, his misinformed and hateful beliefs were simply overpowered by stories of struggle and the pursuit of a college education.  With the utmost courage, ScholarshipsA-Z's undocumented and ally student leaders discussed their desire for opportunity and justice, leaving this participant and the allies in the crowd both speechless and in tears.

Today's workshop was difficult, yet educational.  It caused anger in the middle, yet understanding in the end.  And, one of the most important lessons we can take away from this experience is that undocumented students have a level of courage that remains unmatched.  Perhaps as allies, if we had only half of their courage to speak out and fix our broken immigration system, a workshop about the potential impacts of the DREAM Act wouldn't even exist.  

Matt Matera
Executive Director, ScholarshipsA-Z 


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