Speak Up

Studentsí Narratives

Conference Meeting
Friday, May 1, 2009

Anne Andrade

     My name is Anne Andrade, Iím 18 years old senior at Somerville High School. In 1999 I moved to United States. Because of all the economical problems, and not many opportunities you may not have money to invest on education. That was my case. On January of 1999 I was eight years old and preparing to embark on a new journey that would change my life forever.
     I was told this was a new beginning for me, that this country would provide my family with all our needs with my parents work hard and if I go to school to learn English and eventually to college. But as the years passed, as I got older I learned that not everyone could go to college. I would immediately ask why. I would get the same answers: because youíre an immigrant! Because you have to have documents! Because you just canít! Or if you have money to pay three times more then a US citizen or someone who has a Green Card.
     That response was very frustrating. By the time I got to the High School I wasnít thinking about college anymore. My status here in the United States was discouraging to me. I was almost adapting to it, or adjusting myself to this condition. Until I got to my Senior year when I saw all my friends applying for college. Everyone asking me if I was going, where I was going.
     That was when I remembered my dream. I reminded myself Iím strong and I can make it. I have faith that sooner or later I will go to college. It can be this fall or next year. But I know I should have the right to do something good about my life. I even thought about going back to Brazil a couple of times. But I know that canít be the solution to my problems. I would stop and think and ask myself if it was worth it to stay away from my family for so many years and not be able to go to college and have a carrier. It has been ten years and five months that I havenít seen my brother. My sister moved here four years ago. That means I grew up without them to stay here and create a good future for me and for them.
     Many times I thought about giving up but I believe there is a purpose to why I moved here. God directed me here to be different and make a difference. I know I wasnít meant to be known just as an immigrant. Iím a resident of the United States for ten years and I do almost everything a citizen does. I work, I shop, and most importantly my family pays taxes. I go to school since second grade and now Iím graduating from high school, which I believe that isnít where a good education ends. Itís actually just the beginning for college and a brilliant future for my generation that I really want to be part of because this is my home. I was very young when I moved here but Iím being prevented from the privileges. Like many others have this dream and achieve it, I want to make it also.

Read a University of Washington research on studentís dreams to go to college

In February 18th of 2005 a family came to Somerville, looking for a better life and better opportunities. After a few weeks in the United States the family felt like they had been there for a long time the father got a job working as a window cleaner, and the children were going to school everything seemed wonderful. 4 months later a tragedy happen the father that had been working as a window cleaner had an accident. He fell from a building and lost his life, leaving 3 minors, 3 older daughters and a wife behind. As the case got to court they accused the man that lost his life working of having 30% fault because the company didnít give him the proper training and he went up in a roof by himself. The lawyer representing this family was, at first, pretty convinced that they were going to get a good compensation, enough to ensured this familyís future but with just a few months left of the case he started taking back what he was so sure about at first. On the day the case was solve the company gave the sum of their compensation, it was not what the family expected, even though they believe no money would ever pay for their loss they had to think of life from then on. When they said it was very low the lawyer turned to saying itís 50-50 if they took the case for a higher court they would probably lose because he was undocumented. Were they trying to say that they had no rights because they did not have ther proper documents? Is the life of this father and the future of his wife and children less valuable only because they did not have the proper documents? Could it be that in a country of freedom and justice for all a piece of paper decides what you worth or what you deserved?

This is my story and that was my father.

A story like this should never have happened. My family had no support and was told that they shouldnít take the case to a higher court because they had no chance to win and they could lose everything.

Many time immigrants feel welcome, this is a very progressive State. But there are so many more when we do not feel that way. It is not the people in general who does not make you feel welcome, but the system itself. It is important to accept and welcome people and respect their individuality but more important is to create a safe place where they can get knowledge about their rights, rights that are sometimes hidden from them just because the systems are unfamiliar. As an immigrant, resident, student and active member of this society I believe that only with the help and support of everyone immigrantsí human rights will be recognized. It is important to bring communities together were everyone can have the opportunity to be heard, to solve the problems by communicating and not by violence. Our city and our schools should support the effort to creat safe environments were people could freely discuss issues that are affecting the community without fear of been marginalized. This is a human act to do. This is not an action to act for privileges, it is a matter of been treated with dignity and respect. This country is and has been a country formed by immigrants as you can see through its history. You can also see how in different times in history there are specific groups of immigrants who are under the magnifying glass and how these groups have struggle with discrimination and injustice within the system. The great thing about it, is that the groups move on and they integrate with the rest of the people and gradually they become part of the community shapers. For example, our Mayor, Joe, Curtatone, He once mentioned at an event run by The Welcome Project called ďImmigrant City then and NowĒ a story of his own when he was a teen. When people has been through an unfair situation or its mind is open to recognized and value history, they get to understand todayís situatuion about immigrants. Our Mayor Curtatone said, and I am qouting him, ďWhat really bothers me today is how we try to stereotype people based on status ó whether they have legal status, Ďillegalí status. I donít understand that, because we forgot the basic principles that this country was formed on. Who built this country? Who built communities like Boston and Somerville? They were immigrantsÖ This is everybodyís city who wants to live here, work hard and make a positive contribution. I donít care what their status is.Ē We are not talking about criminals or people who cannot function in society here! Which by the way exist on every single group we can think of. We are talking about good people with hopes and dreams and as many of us will say with GANAS to succeed and make something possitive with their lives. Just because we, might look different, or eat different food, or listen to different music, or speak a different language it does not mean that we feel and have different hopes. My father wanted us to be successful and get educated in a country of freedom let us not become the oppressors. Remember, Immigrants are human beings, just like you and me!

Rafaela Alexio

Lara Jimenez


Community Advocacy

Jurema Schmoeller, a mother of two, spoke out at the Allston-Brighton Adult Education Coalitionís Legislator breakfast on April 17 about how valuable the Family Literacy Program has been to her and her family.

      My name is Jurema Schmoeller. I am from Brazil. I am married and have two boys, ages two and a half and almost six years old. I have participated in the Allston Brighton Family Literacy Program at the Jackson Mann Community Center for three years. This program has been very important for me and my family in many ways. I have been learning English through the ESL classes and can now help my son who is in BPS K-2 to do his homework and read together each night. I am now able to easily speak with his teacher, make doctorís appointments and attend doctor visits without an English interpreter present. I can read to my younger son and sing songs with him in English. I can speak directly with the families I work for and learn what they expect from me at work. Learning to read and write English as part of the Family Literacy Program has changed my life and helped me to be more independent and do everyday tasks for my family.
     The Family Literacy Program has connected me to many resources, such as, health care, the monthly diaper give away, and the WIC Program. Before I joined this program I didnít know about these resources and with help, I registered my older son and now my younger son for BPS kindergarten and know that they will both be successful students. Because both of my sons had the opportunity to participate with other young children in the early childhood classroom of the Family Literacy Program, the transition for them and for me into these public school settings are and will be smooth. Before this Program, I was very frightened to send my children to school. Through the Family Literacy Program, I have met many other parents with children who are the same ages and during the parenting education class we have helped each other to solve problems, support each other, share parenting challenges and become friends and like a family.