Friday, April 1, 2011

You Can Make a Difference!

As you may know, there are several pieces of anti-immigrant legislation under consideration in Georgia – as well as other states. Georgia has been debating whether to join 39 other states that bar undocumented youth from accessing higher education. Thankfully, it looks like this legislation will not come up for a vote this year. Even so, these students must pay the out of state rate which makes it impossible for most to apply. Also, many are impoverished but ineligible for financial aid, scholarships, Pell grants, or the HOPE scholarship. Undocumented youth cannot legally work to help pay for college. These students did not do anything wrong. We can argue about whether or not their parents should have brought them here – but the students themselves have grown up here in Georgia, attending our schools, and having the same dreams as other American students.

Several students in Bulloch County are honor students who will not be able to go to college without a lot of assistance from people who care. I am one of a group of citizens who are determined to try to help them. I became especially convinced of this need after meeting with one of the young ladies in my home. Her dad came here many years ago when he found work painting houses. Then she, her mother and little brother joined him when she was eight years old. She is an outstanding student, maintaining all A’s since the 5th grade and now taking AP courses. She not only does well with her school work, she is an award winning artist and plays the guitar with a singing group for her church. In fact, she will sing in our service this Sunday, April 3. She and three other students have written a description of themselves for us to share with others. Here are their stories.

I am a 17 year old and the oldest of four children. I’ m currently enrolled as a senior at Statesboro High School. With hard work and the encouragement of my parents, I’ve managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. I have been listed on the Principal’s Honor Roll’s List since the 5th grade and in the 8th grade I received an award that was signed by the president of the United States (President Bush). During my junior year I was awarded for the highest grade in American Literature. It was not easy for me to learn English. I worked very hard and I remember the hours and hours it would take to complete my assignments. My mother was always encouraging me. I remember I had a toy that played out the alphabet and that was also very helpful. Now I can speak and write both languages fluently. I want to get a scholarship and fulfill my dream of going to college. I hope to major in either education or dentistry.

I am a senior at Statesboro High School. I have been in the United States since I was five years old. I came to this country with my mother who crossed the border in a truck filled with migrants. I remember the long nights and lots of fear. My parents were separated for a long time by the border. I want to go to college because I want to improve my life. I currently have a 3.7 GPA in school and my dream is to achieve a major in Business. I am particularly good at math because I had a terrific teacher that believed in me. He helped me to see that I could take mathematics at the AP (Advanced Placement) level and still do well. Since then I have been awarded for the highest grade in Accounting and Algebra.

I am 18 years old and I am a senior at Statesboro High School. My biggest dream is to get accepted to college this fall. I want to pursue a major in Business. I am bilingual and I hope to use this skill to help others who can’t understand or speak English. I remember struggling so much in trying to understand English. I was a very little girl when I came to the United States and I was enrolled in school and didn’t know how to ask to use the bathroom. My mother worked with me for hours every night trying to translate my homework assignments. We had to use an English/Spanish Dictionary and translate every word. It was very tiring. Both of my parents are very hard workers but their small salaries don’t earn enough for them to help me to go to college. My GPA is 3.2 and I recently was listed on the Principal’s Honor Roll.

I am 17 years old and a senior at Statesboro High School. I have a 3.32 GPA and consider myself a good and serious student. I put effort in what I do. I came to the United States as at the age of 6. My parents are migrant farm workers and they want more for me and my sister. As I think of the future one of my dreams is to be a teacher. I want to go to college because it will help me become a professional person. I am bilingual and I want to use my language skills to help others. I have been listed on the Honor Roll since Middle School and was name Best Student of the Month. I had the highest average in ESOL during my Freshman Year. I am active in clubs and a community organization named “Students United Against Violence Everywhere.”

These students want to go to college. They need to go to college. We need for them to go to college – to help our society become stronger. A special account has been set up at the Farmers and Merchants bank for contributions. Our board has voted to “Give the Plate Away” to this account on Sunday, April 3. All monies collected that day not designated as a pledge will go to this scholarship fund. If you are writing a check for that day, make it out to UUFS and write “scholarship” in the memo line. If you cannot come that day, but want to be part of this UUFS contribution, mail the check to us with “scholarship” in the memo line and a note indicating that you want it included. Alternatively, you can give directly to the bank. (The account # is 1874195.)

Our faith traditions tell us to love our neighbors and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. You may think you do not have enough to help these students, but our gifts added together can make a difference.

I share with my Unitarian ancestor Edward Hale these values:

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the one thing I can do.

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