"We Have These Precious Rights and We Should Use Them"


cad collabToday it is snowing... still, after snowing all day yesterday and all through last night. We have a foot and a half of soft, white, peaceful snow.  This morning as I was catching up on things at my desk I read an article in our local paper from last week, The Addison Independent..."Trump order strands Weybridge family in Iran."  Middlebury College Professor Ata Anzali, his wife, Fahimeh and daughters, Esra and Narges have been in Iran for a sabbatical year.  Both Ata and Fahimeh were engaged in research and their children were in school. They had rented a house and purchased a car. They were spending time with grandparents and cousins.  Fahimeh was caring for her father who had a stroke a couple of months ago.  With Trump's travel ban, they were thrown into panic about returning to the U.S.  In the end, with help from Vermont Senator Leahy's office and also Middlebury College they were able to return.  But they abruptly left behind their research plans, their friends and family.

Professor Anzali said,

"My case was probably among the easiest ones. There are refugees who have been waiting for 20 years to get the clearance to come into the United States from refugee camps, and then in one night their life is upside down," he said.

This is a tough time we are living through.   One of the things that Ashley and I believe is so critical to authentic and lasting learning is to hear, nurture, develop and feature children's voices in words, graphics, dance, song.  Learning to be a local and global citizen, valuing multiple perspectives, contributing to a healthy, hopeful future...these are among the central themes of our work with teachers and schools.   I would like to quote Narges, one of Professor Anzali's daughters, because she speaks so clearly as she embodies her life and her beliefs in her voice.

Salam, Hello. I am Narges Anzali. I am eleven years old. I am living for a year in Iran. Me and my family were hoping that this new law would not apply to green card holders. I was shocked when I first heard of this law.  I have lived in the United States for nine years. Does that make me different from the people who are around me and are citizens? I consider myself just as American.  Does it make a difference that I am Muslim? Is that wrong? I have lived and talked and laughed with people who have supported this law. I can not believe that they would do this to me.

So I ask you to reach out. Reach out to the people and tell them our stories. The problems are appearing in our lifetime and it is our responsibility to solve them. Isn't the first amendment of the Constitution the right to free speech, free press and free religion? We should start to pay attention to these things and make sure that we use them to their full potential. We have these precious rights and we should use them.

I do not believe that what religion you are, or how many years you have lived in America, whether you have a green card or a visa make you any more or less American.

So I ask you do DO something about it, to help these people who have done no wrong to come home. It is not the time to stand on the sidelines and watch other people do our work for us. And I hope with all my heart that the people who are stuck with nowhere to go will soon find their way home.

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