I had the pleasure of meeting the students of ALIANZA at the International High School in New York last week. ALIANZA is a group of 16 recently arrived immigrant students from Mexico, Central and South America, 9-12th grade. Some of of the students crossed as unaccompanied minors, while others came to the U.S to reunite with family after decades of separation. They all share a common goal: to graduate and conquer their dreams.
Many of these students, especially the male students, are financially responsible for their families in the U.S and often send remittances to their home countries as well. Can you imagine being 16 years old and being financially responsible for your family? I cannot, it breaks my heart. When their teacher shared with me some of the circumstances these children have endured, I expected to meet very different students.
What I encountered where children full of hope and energy. These sixteen students reminded me of how much the human spirit is able to endure, conquer and overcome.
I thank them for allowing me to sit in their circle of trust, for their honest and tough questions and for giving me sixteen more reasons to keep fighting for equality and dignity for all immigrants.
I must also express my gratitude to their teacher, who reached out to me to come speak with them, and to all teachers who make a huge difference in young people's lives.