Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I have a name. I have a face. I have a story.

It began with a tweet. A what if...?

Then we experienced Ms. Gaby Pacheco's intrepid spirit, via Skype, mere days later, highlighting just how transformative a simple "ask" can be in the world of social media. In the world of using technology as a global tool. Good stuff, right?

But here's the really good stuff.
Gaby, easily engaging with, and responding to, student questions.
For those of you who might not know about Gaby Pacheco, she is a tremendous force in the arena of immigrants' rights, particularly those who are younger. She is a DREAM Act leader, well-known for her Trail of Dreams, a 1500-mile trek from Miami to Washington, DC. Her efforts aimed to put what had been an elusive human face on the multi-faceted immigration debate. This woman walks the talk, in so many ways. Obviously.

And here she was, spending an hour and a half of her time with our students.

Other students were with us (our fearless language learners) today -- students learning Spanish. Gaby was kind enough to present in BOTH languages, so each group could have some stealth L2 practice. :)  (Shh...bonus learning time!)

If you've ever heard Ms. Pacheco talk, you know she speaks from the heart, and that her insights come from hard-earned wisdom. Her long move from Ecuador to Miami, being trafficked in North Carolina, and turning a "NO" into a "thousand yes's", all demonstrate a life of being determined.

She has never been afraid to ask for help because she knows she's not the only one. Thought-provoking how putting yourself "out there", opens the doors for so many others to do the same. "If she did it...then so can I".  Quite a lesson there: Taking risks yourself and making yourself vulnerable, can ironically empower others.

She was unhesitatingly frank, advising our students that everything they do will be difficult, and there will always be obstacles, from the financial, to the social, and emotional. Different people struggle in many different ways, but just because something is a law, it doesn't mean it's right. She struggled through many obstacles, and there have not been any she's been unable to overcome.

I loved this: "At first, yes, it might be a brick wall...but when I really look, that brick wall has a knob." How many of your brick walls have knobs?

After all of her struggles, her brick walls, she continues to fight for others. She wants her family and people in her community to have the same access because she doesn't want them to have to struggle as she did. (Building your future by building up others' successes and knowledge? #MakesSense #WhyIsThisRevolutionary)

Speaking of success, here's another of her quotes I loved:

"If you climb the ladder of success, remember there's now a ladder behind you. Don't take it with you. Leave it for the next person, turn around, and help them up, too."

She prodded our thinking with several questions, including these, which really made our students think:
What is the "right" way to immigrate? If we consider our ancestors who came through Ellis Island, all they needed to do was stand in line, show their names & minimal paperwork, and "not look sick".
Why is immigration not acceptable today? 

Lastly, she answered several of our students' own questions, including these:
Why are human rights important to her? She has a tremendous love and respect for human beings. She realizes we are here for a finite amount of time to do good, to do well, and it's important for us to see each other as humans, respect even those whose ideals we may despise, as our brother.

What was her biggest struggle? Her biggest struggle is that people don't know the power we have to make a difference and to overcome obstacles.

What was school like for her? She was always bullied in school, particularly for her weight. So she counteracted that by joining the cross-country team. Even though she finished last or close to last in every race, she was determined to prove that she was worthy of being there. She later joined the basketball and track/field teams. *Fun fact: She became the strongest person in the school, and even embarrassed the football team. :-)  Power manifests itself in many ways. #GirlPower

Some of her advice the students liked? "Don't be afraid", "Give 100%, always", "Asi se puede", "Poquito poquito mejorando", and "look for help".

Check out some of their other takeaways:

"I have a name. I have a face. I have a story. "
Words we would all do well to remember. 

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