Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mo. German immigrants helped keep state in Union

Immigrants have shaped this country and this story tells some of what German immigrants did for Missouri in 1860, when they voted for Abraham Lincoln. DP

By KRIS HILGEDICK - Jefferson City News-Tribune

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Drawn by Missouri's fertile valleys and rolling wooded hills, German immigrants made significant contributions to the Union Civil War effort.

Missouri was settled by a variety of people. But settlers from the Old South - the land holders - dominated the state politically and economically.

"They were over-represented in the political system, shall we say," historian Ken Luebbering said. "Slave owners comprised only 2 percent of the population in 1860, but their attitudes were important in the political culture."

Germans were not welcomed by everyone. Clairborne Fox Jackson - Missouri's governor in 1861 - declared in a speech: "Germans seeking homes in Missouri should be met on the threshold, knocked on the head and driven back."

"Jackson understood they were a tide that were going to change things," declared Luebbering. "And he didn't like it."

In 1830 only a few hundred Germans lived here. But by 1860, the population had grown to about 90,000.

So, Germans began to outnumber slave-holders 3-to-1.

"Things were going to change and they did in the 1860 elections," Luebbering said.
Three main groups - pro-secession Democrats, centrists and anti-slavery Republicans - dominated that election.

Luebbering estimates that Republican Abraham Lincoln might have received as few as 24,000 votes across the entire South. But St. Louis Germans cast 15,000 votes for him.
"It gives you some idea of the preponderance of support for Lincoln that came from the German community," Luebbering said.
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Immigrants are an engine of prosperity

This article shows how much we need immigrants, despite some peoples' fears. It also shows how the countries they move from can benefit in different ways. DP

By Michael Clemens, From News Services

Imagine telling Americans in 1900 that over the 20th century, about 60 million immigrants —- that is, 80 percent of the population at the time —- were going to come and stay in the United States. Tens of millions more were going to come for a while but not stay. Many at the time considered the country “full” and would have feared that such an enormous influx, combined with the vast financial crisis we were to experience a few decades later, would harm American prosperity.

Yet all of these things happened, and here we are today: even in the midst of new financial turmoil, still the richest nation the world has ever seen.

Throughout history, international migration has been a central force in reducing global poverty and inequality. But the recent heated political debate over immigration reform has spectacularly missed the important ways in which the international movement of people shapes the development process —- and how this process benefits everyone.

Although many Americans legitimately fear the effects of immigration on our economy, the best economic research reveals two surprising facts: It has not appreciably lowered the average American worker’s real earnings, and the impact of immigrants on funding for public services is roughly zero over their lifetimes: They contribute to the system roughly what they take out.

The Treasury secretary is working right now to make sure that American business has what it needs in the short run: functioning credit markets. But what American business needs to remain strong in the long run is energetic manual labor and brilliant, creative minds. Immigration to the U.S. will continue to be a rich source of both.

Far beyond our borders, the movement of people shapes economic development across the globe in ways that are not immediately obvious, or often discussed, but important to consider.

Also surprising is the fact that migration often creates positive spillovers in the sending countries. The Philippines, for example, sends large numbers of nurses to the United States and other countries. One result of this outward migration is that an enormous system of high-quality private nursing education has arisen in the Philippines to prepare low-income women to benefit from these opportunities. Since not all of the trained nurses leave, the Philippines today has more professional nurses per capita than richer countries like Thailand and Malaysia —- or even Great Britain.
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For Immigrants, a Ripple Effect

Immigrants are always hard hit in tough times, this story shows how all the stores, schools and restaurants that are in their communities are also hit very hard. DP

Tough Times Trickle Down Through Newcomers' Networks

By N.C. Aizenman, Washington Post Staff Writer

While the economy's tailspin is spreading pain across the Washington region, it has hit many of the area's close-knit immigrant communities with particular speed and force. The dependence on one another that has contributed so much to their economic success has now created a domino effect in which the misfortune of one segment of the group almost immediately affects the rest.

Ethiopian cabdrivers suffering from a drop-off in customers have cut back drastically on lunches at the District's Ethiopian restaurants, which, in turn, are now grappling with how to survive.

Korean construction contractors and real estate investors reeling from the housing crisis are having trouble affording tuition at the area's hagwons -- the private, after-school academies to which Korean parents traditionally send their children. At least one has closed, and another, Best Academy, with branches in Springfield and Sterling as well as Ellicott City, has slashed its prices by almost 40 percent.

The consequences reach beyond the financial, altering local immigrant culture in small but significant ways. Economic pressures are straining some cherished customs and strengthening others. Many immigrants are stepping outside their comfort zones to participate more in the broader economy.

The shifts are particularly evident among the District's hundreds of Ethiopian cabdrivers, whose distress over losing customers is compounded by the city's recent introduction of a meter system that cabbies contend charges some of the lowest rates in the country.
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Spirit of 'living thankfully'

This Vietnamese refugee has spent years helping other Vietnamese learn English and to become citizens. It was a vow he made 30 years ago - if he survived. DP

Heartfelt prayer » A small man with a big heart helps other Vietnamese learn the language and become American citizens.

By Kristen Moulton, The Salt Lake Tribune

His poisoned body swollen and death a real possibility, Son Xuan Nguyen uttered the prayer that was often on his lips as a prisoner in a North Vietnamese re-education camp.

"God," Nguyen said. "If I survive, I will repay your kindness."
Nguyen did survive that poisoning from scavenged roots as well as two other brushes with death in eight years in the camp, punishment for having been a major in the South Vietnamese army, an ally of the Americans when Saigon fell in 1975.

Three decades later, Nguyen is still repaying his debt.

The 75-year-old Nguyen, who now lives in Salt Lake City, is essentially a father to Utah's Vietnamese community.

From helping fellow refugees learn enough English and civics to become U.S. citizens to hosting services for the Cao Dai religion in his living room to leading bus trips to see autumn colors in the Uintas, Nguyen lives to serve.

His gift, says Layton resident Valeen Sullivan, who co-taught a citizenship class for eight years with Nguyen, is that he is a born organizer, a natural leader.

"He knows how to navigate the system, and he helps the others do so," Sullivan says. "When somebody is in the hospital or somebody dies, everybody turns to him. 'What do we do? How do we do it ?'"

A slight man with high cheekbones, a smile playing in his eyes, Nguyen says his life is guided by faith.

"Living thankfully is part of what he's doing, but it's more like he's representing God," says Phil Nguyen, who was 13 in 1991 when his father brought him and his older brother and sister from Vietnam, a whopping $50 in his pocket.

Son's wife, Nhung Vu, remained working in Vietnam for a more than a year before rejoining her family in Utah's capital.
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Centreville United Methodist Helping Local Immigrants

Immigrants often don't know about places to help them during this economically difficult time. Once a month this church in Virginia is assisting them with food and clothing. DP

By Bonnie Hobbs, Centre View

Local immigrants hard-pressed for cash now have a place to turn for help. Centreville United Methodist Church has joined Grace Ministries and, as such, is providing them with emergency food, clothing and diapers — as well as healthcare and spiritual guidance.

The ministry began in September and operates the second Saturday of each month. The church doors open at 7 a.m., with refreshments, hospitality and a brief worship service in Spanish and English. Registration and distribution of food and clothes are from 8-10:30 a.m.

"The first month [Sept. 13], 54 families came in," said Barb Shaiko, CUMC’s director of missions. "The next month [Oct. 11], we had nearly 150 families and we actually ran out of food and clothing. We’re buying the food, but we need diaper and clothing donations."

For the Dec. 13 session, donations will be accepted in the church’s fellowship hall from Dec. 7 through Dec. 12. Clothing should be bagged and labeled by size; small and medium men’s clothes are needed most. Clothing for women, children and babies should be in season and in good condition. Children’s books, plastic grocery bags and toys are also needed.

In addition, Grace Ministries provides information and training to the Hispanic immigrant community. In September, Edgar Aranda, an advocator with the Legal Aid Justice Center in Falls Church, spoke to attendees about immigration issues affecting them. In October, a representative from Just Neighbors — a nonprofit, immigrant legal-services organization — did likewise.

Shaiko said job information, such as Fairfax County Public Schools’ bus- and truck-driver training, will be passed on to those interested. Besides that, she said, "We’ll also have personal-care-assistant training."

VOLUNTEERS to help on ministry Saturdays are also needed. Shaiko says it takes 100 people, between Friday and Saturday, to set up for and work at the ministry. "Anyone in the community may help; they don’t need to be a member of the church," she said. "And Spanish-speaking volunteers would be great."

Centreville United Methodist Church is at 6400 Old Centreville Road in Centreville. For more information, to volunteer or to donate items, e-mail or call 703-830-2684.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Revealing immigrant roots

This successful businessman and city councilor recently explained his feelings on immigration and surprised people with the story of his parents coming here illegally many years ago. The same story can be told by many successful people in this country. DP

Chelsea councilor recounts how his Argentine parents, who had lived here illegally, became Americans

By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff

CHELSEA - City Councilor Roy Avellaneda traces his political stance on illegal immigration to a pair of newlyweds from Argentina who spent their honeymoon huddled under a rug, on a cold, hard floor in Dorchester.

His parents - Vicente and Isabel Avellaneda - arrived in America in 1970 with suitcases, winter coats, and $500. She stitched trousers in a factory; he baked bread on Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury. And for two years they lived in uneasy secrecy as illegal immigrants, like so many of their neighbors today.

Avellaneda's long-kept secret spilled out at a recent state hearing on immigration, following years of reluctance because of the vitriolic national debate on the issue. He said his family is an example of the success that might await the nation's 12 million undocumented immigrants if they are granted permission to stay. His parents are now US citizens and own a landmark bakery on Broadway.

"People wonder where my position comes from," Avellaneda said, in an interview. "There's my answer: It's my roots."

The news stunned a crowd that had known Avellaneda as a champion of immigrants' rights - he and other councilors voted last year to declare Chelsea a sanctuary city, a haven for all immigrants. But many immigrants from Central America also were skeptical o f the tall, bespectacled councilor. They view him as a member of the white elite, a college-educated politician who speaks Spanish with an Argentine accent.

"It took me by surprise," said Gladys Vega, executive director of the nonprofit Chelsea Collaborative, who knew Avellaneda's story but didn't expect him to share it. "I asked a woman, 'Did you understand what he just said?' She said, 'I can't believe it. I thought he was a white guy. I didn't think he was one of us.' "

Nationally, politicians and others have recently held up their own stories to show the contributions of illegal immigrants, from 76-year-old US Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, whose Italian mother was once here illegally, to 21- year-old Henry Cejudo, an Olympic wrestler and gold medalist and the son of illegal immigrants from Mexico.
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Group strives to push for immigrants' rights

A movie called "Made In L.A." is about women who worked in sweatshops in California. A group in Stamford screened the film, hoping to get people to see immigrants as an important part of our country. DP

By Magdalene Perez, Staff Writer

STAMFORD - When Beatrice Chodosh and Ana Maria Badash set out to screen a movie about sweatshops, they hoped the film would change the way people think about immigration.

The women met their goal Sunday, when their group, Coalition of Residents and Immigrants in Solidarity, screened the documentary "Made In L.A." at Ferguson Library, Chodosh said. About 60 people attended the event, despite a screening time that coincided with the annual big-balloon parade.

"Made In L.A." follows the stories of Lupe Hernandez, Maria Pineda and Maura Colorado, three women who left their families at a young age to find work in California.

What they got were jobs working for a major clothing manufacturer, Forever 21, with hours of toil under harsh conditions. After many years, the women took a stand by launching a public lawsuit and boycott against the company, which they won.

Chodosh, a psychotherapist in Bridgeport and Stamford who has her own immigration story, said the movie inspired viewers to have compassion for immigrants, who often leave their families behind and work hard under poor conditions. During a discussion after the screening, participants said they were shocked to learn of the injustices they saw in the film, Chodosh said.

"Some people got really emotional. They felt for those women," Chodosh said. "What happened was the movie motivated the audience to find out how they can help out these families in need."

Chodosh came to the United States from Argentina 20 years ago, when Argentine rulers persecuted the opposition in the so-called "Dirty War."

Coalition of Residents and Immigrants in Solidarity was founded to reach out to immigrants in lower Fairfield County and respond to the mistreatment of day laborers, Chodosh said. Through pro bono legal aid to workers, they heard of many cases in which workers were not paid or were mistreated by their employers, she said.

"We want to show that these people are human beings and how important they are because they contribute to society," Chodosh said.
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Thankful for Thanksgiving Without Pirates

This Somali refugee family lives in what we think of as very uncomfortable conditions. But they are living better than they did in their own country and are very thankful for the opportunities in America. We should all be thankful for our lives too. DP

Some of Ali’s family are in Boise. Left in Somalia are a sister, some brothers and three of his father’s four wives. Those here are all working and receive no government assistance. By sharing bedrooms and pooling their money, they are living better than they ever dreamed was possible.

By Jill Kuraitis

The chaotic and violent East African country of Somalia has no official government, but it has some big-time pirates. Their latest acquisition on the high seas, just last week, was a Saudi oil tanker the size of three aircraft carriers.

Not even Johnny Depp could have pulled that off, but audacity isn’t a problem for this kind of piracy, which has become a career for some Somalis. Faced with little choice in a country ravaged by warlords and combat for more than 20 years, pirates were once people who stole because of hunger, and then hunger turned to greed.

Poverty which leads to crime and violence – an ancient story unfortunately still with us.

It’s impossible for ordinary Somalis to try to organize against the warlords. “How can we do there?” asked Mali, a Somali mother newly arrived in Boise with her two daughters. “Just to step the line outside the village we are killed,” she said.

The Somali refugees in Boise know about pirates. They know about starvation and suffering, slaughter and death, and the spirit-killing stress of living in daily terror. Boise has about 1,500 Somali refugees, most having arrived in the past two years. Some emigrate to warmer climates, but many are willing to learn life in cold weather to live in Boise, a town which most immigrants find to be unusually friendly and welcoming.

One of the recent Somali immigrants I’ll call Ali, a teenager who is learning English at Boise State University’s language center. He attends classes three times a week and has two private tutoring sessions with me. In Somali culture, a proficiency at language is considered a sign of extreme respectability, and Somali refugees tend to take advantage of English lessons in larger numbers, and with more persistence, than some other cultures.
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Parents continue to pass on traditions, culture to the children

Another story about immigrant families teaching their children their own cultures while also raising the children as Americans. DP

By Phyllis Coulter

BLOOMINGTON -- Immigrants whose children are born in America find ways to incorporate American language and culture into their youngsters' lives.

Yazmin Hinojosa who moved from Mexico to Normal seven years ago is raising her toddler and kindergartner with an appreciation for both the country they live in and the country she came from.

She and husband Ernesto speak Spanish at home.

"I don't want them to lose their own language," said Hinojosa, who at the same time is taking lessons to improve her English at the family literacy program offered by the McLean, DeWitt, Livingston Office of Education at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bloomington.

She teaches her children about how both countries celebrate holidays.

For example, she dressed her 2-year-old daughter Mirilis like a princess for the family literacy program Halloween party. At the same time, she teaches her son David, 5, a student in the bilingual program at Brigham Elementary School in Bloomington, about Mexican tradition for the day of the dead at that time of year.

In Mexico, Nov. 2 is a time of tribute to relatives who have died. Their favorite dishes are served and families light candles in honor of family members who have died -- about 23 for Hinojosa's family. "Nobody's going to (pass on these Mexican traditions on here) so I teach it to my kids," she said.

Hinojosa earned a psychology degree in Mexico, and is working on a GED here, while she blends the best of both worlds for her children. She hopes to share things she has learned if she returns to her homeland.
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Immigrant families face extra challenges while living in Central Illinois

This family from France relocated temporarily to the Midwest for a job and are going back home next June. They tell some of the struggles they had. Imagine how hard it is for families with low wage jobs, little education and several small children. DP

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

When the Garrido family moves back to France in June after three years in the Twin Cities, they will take a newfound love of baseball, better English language skills and Halloween decorations.

"It was very hard the first year," said Mireilla Garrido of when the family moved to the Twin Cities for her husband's job with Flexitech Inc. in Bloomington.

"It's OK now," said Garrido who works part time as a child-care provider for the McLean, Livingston, DeWitt Regional Office of Education's family literacy and English as a Second Language program at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bloomington.

Mireilla and husband Pascal Garrido moved to Normal when their twins were 9 years old, and have gone through the same challenges any parents do when students start a new school, compounded by the fact they are in a new country and using a new primary language.

"It's hard to help with homework," their mom said. She would explain things in French and they'd have to translate back.

Initially, Max and Coraline, now 12, weren't thrilled about leaving friends and family in France for their dad's job, but now they have mixed emotions about returning and leaving new friends.

"We're happy to have friends on both sides of the world," Max said.

The Garridos aren't alone in adapting their parenting skills from another country to life in McLean County.

About 5.6 percent of the new students in Bloomington District 87 this year transferred in from another country. Some of the dozen countries they hail from include Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Thailand, and Spain.

At Oakland Elementary School in Bloomington, for example, 15 languages are spoken among the 480 students. A variety of Indian languages are the most frequently spoken.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A new look at Asian immigrants

This new survey shows that immigrant groups working on immigration issues should connect more with Asian and African immigrants to form a stronger political force. DP


A new survey by the University of Massachusetts at Boston's Institute for Asian American Studies attempts to fill what the authors say is a gaping hole in the research on immigrants.

"There's been a lot of attention paid to immigration rights and policy," said the institute's director, Paul Watanabe, at the survey's unveiling last month. "But the fact is, there is virtually no [statistical data] based upon Asian immigrants and the Asian community."

The institute's study, "Interest and Action: Findings from a Survey of Asian American Attitudes on Immigrants, Immigration, and Activism," found that 80 percent of the 412 Asian-Americans surveyed pay either a great deal of attention or some attention to immigration issues.

It also found that 58 percent said they were very sympathetic or somewhat sympathetic to the Latino community's stance on immigration issues, and 52 percent support a legalization process for undocumented immigrants.

The survey also asked respondents about their likelihood of participating in activities supporting greater rights for immigrants. While 33 percent said they were very likely to sign a petition, only about 9 percent said they were very likely to work with others in an organization, or to participate in a march or demonstration.

Edwin Argueta, an organizer for Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, was present at the survey's unveiling to discuss the implications of its findings. He said it is important for more politically active communities, specifically Latinos, to connect with immigrants from other countries to create a multilayered immigrant narrative and a stronger political force.

"It's not going to be done by Latinos only," Argueta said at the event. "It has to be done by the Asian community and the African community. We need to be a little more inclusive."

Maria Elena Salinas: Thankful for immigrants' diversity

This opinion piece talks about immigrants being bicultural; keeping both their new culture and their old one and often combining them. Especially on holidays like Thanksgiving. DP

By Maria Elena Salinas

One of the best things my parents did for my sisters and me as we were growing up was teach us to embrace two cultures. As Mexican immigrants, they wanted to make sure we were in touch with our roots and proud of our cultural heritage, but they always reminded us that as U.S.-born citizens, we were Americans first.

Being bicultural meant, among other things, that we would celebrate holidays from both Mexico and the United States. And we did just that. Whether it was the Fourth of July or Cinco de Mayo, the Day of the Dead or Halloween, Memorial Day or the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, our humble apartment was party central for a good part of the year and a magnet for our friends and family. But one of the most important celebrations of the year was always our Thanksgiving dinner.

My mother was the best cook ever. (Unfortunately, that's one trait I didn't inherit from her.) The menu for Thanksgiving was pretty traditional: turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cornbread and pumpkin pie. My mother did give it a twist when it came to preparing the turkey stuffing, mixing it with a Mexican flair.

All across the country on the night of Thanksgiving, there are immigrant families who give their meal a taste of their home country – after all, nostalgia and nationalism usually start with the palate. But whether they are adding hot sauce, rice and beans, yucca or mofongo, at the end it all means the same thing. It is part of the assimilation process.

For years, there has been a misconception about the way immigrants adjust to their newly adopted country. Some believe that because they speak their own language or embrace their own traditions, passing those things on to the new generations, they are not assimilating. Too often, that leads to discrimination and a rejection of immigrants, who end up being treated as invaders. But what those people don't understand is that assimilation does not necessarily mean leaving behind your culture or your language, but actually embracing a new one.

It is this belief that makes most immigrants particularly grateful during this time of the year. They understand what it means to be able to come into a country that is not their own and have an opportunity to work, make a better life for their family and become an integral part of society.

During these tough economic times, it is immigrants who have been disproportionately affected. They're among the first to lose their jobs in the construction and service industries. They're among the largest group who received subprime loans. And they could possibly be among the last to get relief.

If my mother were alive today, I'm sure she would be spending hours in the kitchen preparing a huge turkey, maybe throwing in a couple of extra jalapeños, and reminding us how lucky we are to have a job and a meal. We might even have enough for leftover turkey tacos. She would say, "Mija, demos gracias."

Volunteers help fill language gap

This article shows how important it is for immigrant parents to learn English when their children are doing the same. DP

As immigrants learn English, bonds strengthen with children

By Jeff Long | Tribune reporter

In a former storage room in South Elementary School in Des Plaines, volunteer teacher Joy Kadlecik leads a small group of Mexican immigrants in a robust round of Simon Says.

Her students are adults sharpening their English skills.

They're also parents, and the game is a tool Kadlecik uses to improve their English comprehension—a skill that will make them better residents of this country and allow them to help their children with schoolwork.

Mayra Cruz, 26, arrived in Des Plaines about seven years ago. Both her sons were born here. Manuel, 7, is in 2nd grade, and Angel, 5, is in kindergarten.

She said the literacy class benefits her whole family.

"Now I can help my son in school, with homework," she said. "I can make appointments when he's sick. I volunteer sometimes. I can go to the school and help my son in class."

"Part of our goal is to have the parents be in charge of the family," said Cathy Niemet, manager of the literacy program. "A lot of times the kids are translating for the parents. And things get lost in the translation."

Cruz smiles at that thought. She can picture the sorts of things that might get "lost" in translation if her boys were left to interpret messages from their teachers.

"Now I understand the grades and the teachers' comments," she said.
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Caroline House helps mothers, children

Immigrant mothers and children are helped by this group of nuns, they learn English, are helped with job applications and other things they need to live here. The women also make friends, other women with the same struggles. DP

By KEILA TORRES, Staff writer

BRIDGEPORT -- For Amarilys Rodriguez, who left Puerto Rico for Connecticut four years ago, helping her 2-year-old son with his learning disabilities was not easy.

That's because Rodriguez, 22, barely speaks English and "not everyone is willing to be a translator for you," the young blonde said in Spanish. So when someone at the Optimus Health Care Center on East Main Street told her about the Caroline House on Stillman Street, where both she and her son could obtain the services they needed, she jumped at the chance.

Connecting mothers with their children is one of the key goals of the Caroline House, which is run by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

"We have a really strong mother/child program," said Sister Ann Moles, executive director at the Caroline House. The women attend classes from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, while the children are cared for in one of two play rooms in the building.

"You're teaching the moms and helping them teach their kids and advocate for their children," said Mary Ellen Gavin, development director for Caroline House.
"The kids never hear Spanish" in the day care, said Sister Moles. "By the time those kids leave here they can be put in a mainstream kindergarten."

Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University students serve as volunteers in the day-care center and even help with the tutoring.

On Fridays, the women attend a Life Skills program, in which the SSND provide speakers or activities to inform the women about different topics important to the women, like breast cancer.

The Caroline House was founded in 1995 by a group of SSNDs who converted the yellow Victorian -- donated by longtime city resident Alice Simon for the purpose of educating the community -- into a nondenominational educational center.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Keating: Immigrants play a valuable role in our economy

An opinion piece about the immigration policy we all hope happens in the new administration. We are all very hopeful. DP

by Raymond J. Keating, chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

When it comes to public policy and the economy, there’s at least one area where President-elect Barack Obama seems to get it. That is, immigration.

Make no mistake; immigrants have been the lifeblood of the U.S. labor force in recent times.

As the U.S. Department of Labor reported earlier this year, foreign-born workers accounted for half of the increase in the U.S. labor force in 2007. From 2000 to 2007, the foreign born made up 47.7 percent of labor force growth.

More broadly, from July 2006 to July 2007, immigrants accounted for 36 percent of the increase in the U.S population. From 2000 to 2007, 40 percent of the population rise was attributable to immigrants.

This has been the trend for some time. In 1970, for example, there were 9.6 million foreign-born individuals in the United States, registering 4.7 percent of the total population. By 2006, that number had climbed to 35.7 million, or 12.4 percent of the population.

To sum up, if it were not for immigration, the United States would be a smaller nation today. In recent years, business would have been confronted by worker shortages and higher labor costs. Consumers would have faced higher prices. And economic growth would have been much lower.

Of course, immigration is not just about economics; it’s also about politics. On the Republican side of the aisle, confusion and conflict have reigned of late. While President George W. Bush and this year’s Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, have pro-immigration track records, a vocal part of the GOP has staked out an often-harsh anti-immigration stance.

Regarding the 10 million to 12 million immigrants in the nation illegally, some in the GOP pushed an agenda of beefing up border security and an enforcement crackdown. They chose to ignore the reality that most people come to this nation – whether legally or illegally – for opportunity, and that they aid our economy.

While not only bad economics, the Republican strategy has been politically costly. Consider the Latino vote, for example. Bush earned 35 percent of that vote in 2000, and between 40 percent and 44 percent in 2004. With many vocal Republicans pushing an anti-immigration agenda since then, however, Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006, with Republican House candidates, for example, receiving 30 percent of the Latino vote that year.

According to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of exit polls this year, Obama earned 67 percent of the Hispanic vote, with McCain getting only 31 percent. McCain was clearly hurt in states like New Mexico, Nevada, Florida and Colorado. Republicans have been punished for their anti-immigration dalliances.

While McCain waffled on his support for comprehensive immigration reform during the campaign, Obama did not.

Obama’s immigration position basically was what Bush and McCain originally proposed. The Obama plan called for allowing undocumented immigrants “to pay a fine, learn English, not violate the law and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.”

In addition, the President-elect called for increasing legal immigration levels to keep families together and to fill the labor needs of U.S. businesses. He also supported beefed-up border security through more personnel, and enhanced infrastructure and technology.

The main negative in the Obama plan is the continued emphasis on forcing business owners to do the job of the immigration police, and imposing penalties on businesses that fail to do so. It is simply unjust to impose these costs on entrepreneurs and businesses because the government runs an inefficient immigration process, and fails to secure our borders.

Now that the Democrats will control both the White House and Congress, it will be interesting to see what they do. In a down economy, revamping the immigration system might be a tough sell. At the same time, if the U.S. economy is shedding, rather than creating, jobs, there’s obviously less of an incentive to come to our country.

But once the economy resumes growth, the flow of people seeking economic opportunity will pick up once again. Will the United States be ready with a reformed system that serves both national security and economic growth, or will we be rolling the dice with the same old immigration mess?

President-elect Obama has the opportunity to make a positive contribution to our nation’s economy by doing immigration reform the right way.

Arrested immigrants use time to study

While these immigrant workers are waiting for their court dates after the raid at their meatpacking plant, they are learning English. They never had time before, they were always working. DP

Associated Press, Worthington Daily Globe

POSTVILLE, Iowa (AP) - The May 12th immigration raid at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant has given some workers unexpected free time to study and learn English.

One, Alejandro Bustamante, said he trudges through the streets of Postville every weekday with his wife and young daughter to attend school.

Bustamante said he has found time to study in the aftermath of the immigration raid at Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant. He was arrested during the raid and says he spent six weeks in jail before posting bond.

He now lives in Postville while awaiting a court date.

He is one of about 15 people who voluntarily attend Northeast Iowa Community College classes daily at Postville's multicultural center.

A native of Mexico, Bustamante said he spent eight years working 12-hour days.

Amanda Klinkenberg, of Waukon, who leads the classes, said that her students are interested in learning.

"They ask for homework. It's kind of a different attitude from the high school setting. It's refreshing," said Klinkenberg, a former high school Spanish teacher who leads the classes.

Last week they learned how to pronounce "th" sounds, which do not exist in Spanish.

Gathered around a table with practice booklets and yellow pencils out, the students practice the difference between the "th" sounds in the words "the" and "thanks."

Besides living in a foreign land without much knowledge of English, Klinkenberg said her students are still coping with the raid.

Many did not see their spouses and children for months. Other families have yet to reunite.

Some still wear government-issued ankle bracelets that track their movements.

Elvira Esparza said she takes pride in how much she has learned since taking the classes. The 30-year-old said she can't speak English fluently, but now understands basic phrases.

"I like the classes a lot. It distracts us, and at the same time we learn English. We figured we should make the best of it," she said in Spanish.

It’s immigrants’ duty to learn the language

This opinion piece is a first hand story of a person who arrived here in 1955, was immersed in the local school classroom. All immigrant students learned English and kept their own language too. No ESL classes, but they learned quickly. DP

By a reader of The Buffalo News

My family, as many families did, came to the United States from Sicily in 1955. We sailed on the Andrea Doria, a ship that sank six months later. I was one of seven children, ages 2 to 17. We knew not a word of English and lived in a household on the West Side in which only Sicilian was spoken.

Upon arriving in Buffalo, my siblings and I were immediately enrolled in what was then School 19. The principal decided to initially place us in grades two years lower than our respective age levels. By the time June came along, we had all been accelerated to our appropriate grades.

There were no English as a Second Language classes, and we were all taught in English. It was total immersion and we all quickly learned. In fact, we learned so well that we were soon acting as interpreters for our parents. I can remember shopping as a 6-year-old with my mother on Grant Street and having to translate between her and the store clerk.

My brother and sister, who were 11 and 13, both earned the Jesse Ketchum award when they reached the eighth grade. That same brother retired five years ago as a U. S. Customs supervisor.

Of the seven children, five graduated from college, three with master’s degrees. We earned our livings as a teacher, an office worker, a grocery store owner, an accountant, a customs agent and a Ford Assembly Plant tool and die maker. I recently retired from Erie County as a probation officer.

My siblings and I are products of the Buffalo Public School System. We attended Schools 19 and 3 and then Grover Cleveland, Hutch Tech and Burgard high schools. Our parents never expected us to be taught in Sicilian. We had excellent teachers, and we are all grateful that we were taught in English.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Latest flow of foreign-born extends story of progress

A good opinion piece about how much immigrants from all countries add to our country. DP

By Editorial Staff

Our position: Difficulties aside, a more cosmopolitan community will be a richer one.
Call them the new Germans, the new Italians, the new Irish, the new migrants from the Deep South.

The world's ever-changing political and economic tides have carried another generation of diverse newcomers to the Indianapolis area, and with them an abundance of fresh energy, a banquet of cultural enrichment and no end of challenges.
To historians, it's a new chapter in an old story with the promise of a happy ending, albeit with a complicated plot.

As detailed by Francesca Jarosz and Will Higgins in The Star Sunday, the Crossroads of America is looking more and more like a crossroads of continents, with the foreign-born population having increased by 69 percent since 2000 in the 15-county area.

Those approximately 100,000 people hail mostly from Latin America; but Asia and Africa are substantially represented as well.

The added colors in the Indy mosaic are as obvious as construction workers and grocery stores of Mexican origin, and as subtle as suburban dwellers from China doing research at Eli Lilly and Co. They are reflected in the dozens of languages spoken by school pupils. They present themselves in Indian supermarkets, in Sikh and Hindu temples and in Christian churches worshipping in a variety of non-English tongues -- as they did during waves of immigration decades ago.

Civic leaders, from the mayor's office to immigrant communities themselves, have worked hard in recent years to spread the welcome mat, ease integration and allay fears. Still, the process is often arduous, even traumatic, both for those bringing change to the city and for those who must accommodate it.
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Pianist impresses audiences

This woman moved to the USA from Ukraine in 1990 and is now an assistant professor at the SC School of Music and is also a well known pianist around the world. DP

Classical musican shares why she loves the piano

By GARY PANETTA of the Journal Star

PEORIA — She's been called the reigning classical music celebrity of Columbia, S.C.

But Marina Lomazov has been impressing listeners across the United States as well.

Her performances have been broadcast regularly on National Public Radio, including on NPR's "PerformanceToday." In addition to earning degrees from The Juilliard School and the Eastman School of Music, Lomazov has won top prizes in several of the world's major piano competitions.

Lomazov is a native of Ukraine, which was still part of the former Soviet Union when she lived there. She and her family emigrated to the United States in 1990. Today she is assistant professor of piano at the University of South Carolina School of Music.

I recently interviewed Lomazov, who will perform Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto on Saturday with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. Here is an excerpt:

Panetta: Tell me about the Grieg Piano Concerto.

Lomazov: It's inspired a lot of very great piano concertos that came after it. Like Rachmaninov's Second, actually. I know that he admired the Grieg concerto very much.
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Immigrant entrepreneurs

Immigrants in this country have always been entrepreneurial. A recent census shows it is continuing. Instead of thinking about problems with immigrants, people should think more about how much they contribute. Just like our ancestors. DP

Nearly one-third of California's business owners are foreign-born


As a practicing physician in her native China, Naishu Wang had a keen interest in early diagnosis as a means of saving lives. But it wasn't until she arrived in the United States more than two decades ago that this interest took the shape of a business.

“When I came here, I didn't have a business mind,” said Wang, 62, the owner of Alfa Scientific Designs in Poway, which produces medical in-vitro diagnostic devices for blood and other lab tests. “But gradually, in this atmosphere, I noticed that everybody has an opportunity. In the United States, small business is kind of encouraged.”

That sentiment apparently is shared by close to one-third of California's business owners, who, like Wang, are immigrants. According to a report released this week by the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, nearly 30 percent of all California businesses are immigrant-owned.

According to the report, which is based on census data, there are nearly 1.5 million immigrant-owned businesses in the nation, with immigrants constituting 12.5 percent of all U.S. business owners. Those businesses generate about $67 billion in taxable net income each year, representing 11.6 percent of all business income in the nation.

“That is a pretty big contribution,” said report author Robert Fairlie, a professor of economics at the University of California Santa Cruz. “I think that a lot of people focus on the undocumented (immigrant) issue, and they are not focused on all the other contributions.”
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ministry awards honor perseverance, empathy & creative care for other

Texas Baptist Ministry has awarded three people including Robin Feistel who has spent much of her life teaching English to adults. DP

By Staff, Baptist Standard

FORT WORTH—The 2008 Texas Baptist Ministry Awards honored a long-tenured small-church pastor, a pioneer in ministry to the mentally disabled and a leader in teaching English to adults.

Baylor University and the Baptist Standard presented the awards during the Friends of Truett Seminary Dinner, held in conjunction with the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting in Fort Worth.

This year’s honorees were Bill Wright, pastor of First Baptist Church in Plains; Joel Pulis, founding pastor/executive director of the Well Community in Dallas; and Robin Feistel of Nacogdoches, longtime English-as-a-Second-Language teacher and author of a new ESL training program.

"Baylor and the Standard present the Texas Baptist Ministry Awards for three important reasons,” Standard Editor Marv Knox explained. “We want to affirm and elevate the ministerial calling. We are blessed to recognize and honor exemplary ministers. And in highlighting those ministers, we also lift up role models for ministry, which can and should be followed by all of us.”

• Feistel took home the Marie Mathis Award for Lay Ministry, which recognizes a Texas Baptist layperson for either recent singular or lifetime ministry achievement. Mathis directed Baylor’s Student Union 25 years and led women’s missionary programs at the state, national and international levels.

Feistel has enabled countless people to speak and read English, and through that association, she has led many of them to faith in Christ.

When the English-as-a-Second-Language program at First Baptist Church in Richardson needed a director, Feistel expanded the ministry. Later, when her family moved to East Texas and their “plan” called for her to get a paying job, she saw another need and devoted almost full time to the ESL program at First Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, at Stephen F. Austin State University and in the community.

When Feistel learned the library at Baylor University’s Center for Literacy needed to be reorganized, she drove to Waco, stayed with a friend and got the job done.
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Students help immigrants in citizenship quest

These students are part of Project SHINE and are helping elderly immigrant prepare for their citizenship tests. DP

By Elaine Bible
For the 10th year, San Francisco State students are helping older immigrants in their quest to become U.S. citizens. The path to citizenship can be a daunting one for elderly immigrants as they prepare for interviews, a civics exam and English language tests.

Thirty students are volunteering in community-based English and citizenship classes this semester as part of Project SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders). Their support will be especially useful this fall as citizenship applicants now face a new civics test introduced Oct. 1.

Working under the supervision of class teachers, students conduct mock citizenship interviews, help immigrants learn material and improve their English skills for the citizenship test. In the process, the students gain real-world teaching experience and course credit.

"I learn the theory of teaching in my master's studies, but being a SHINE coach is a chance to observe a real classroom and apply what I have been learning," said HyunJin Cho, who is studying for a master's in English with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Now in her third semester as a SHINE coach, Cho volunteers once a week at an English class at City College's downtown campus in San Francisco.

"Most of the students are immigrants from Asia," Cho said. "The classes are quite large, about 40 to 50 people, so I help students who want to ask extra questions and those who need individual attention with their grammar and writing skills."

Part of a national community service learning initiative, SHINE was established in response to the needs of elder immigrants after the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, which jeopardized access to benefits for non-citizens. "The goal was to bring together young and old people in positive ways, always based around English language tutoring as the vehicle," said Gail Weinstein, professor of English and director of SHINE. In recent years the San Francisco SHINE program has expanded its focus to include other age groups besides elders and is working with community partners to meet other needs beyond citizenship preparation such as basic language skills, health and family literacy.

The San Francisco SHINE program, a partnership between SF State and City College of San Francisco, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Last academic year, 300 students from SF State and City College assisted more than 6,000 older immigrants in the Bay Area.

"We have had Raza Studies students working in the Mission district, students of Chinese language helping in classes in Chinatown and political science majors having a chance to observe how the citizenship process works," Weinstein said. "We have some coaches who love it so much they keep coming back to SHINE semester after semester."
Community service learning opportunities such as SHINE are central to the student learning experience at SF State. In the 2007-08 academic year, 10,000 students took part in community service learning through 507 different courses.

For more information about Project SHINE, visit:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Immigration back on radar

An opinion piece I completely agree with. I have also written articles with the same viewpoint; we need immigrants and the ones here now should be given a way to become citizens, if they qualify. DP

by Jack Millman

One issue overlooked in the recent presidential race was immigration. Like the Iraq War, it went from being a hot-button issue in 2006 to simply falling off the national radar in the heat of the election coverage. One of the major reasons for this was the disastrous 2007 attempt at immigration reform, which nearly destroyed Sen. John McCain's bid for the Republican nomination. Since then both parties have basically ignored the issue.

Although the 2007 reform bill was deeply flawed (being needlessly complex), the need to reform American immigration policies has not gone away.

Illegal immigration has had a habit of popping up on the national agenda, and then quickly burning out. Ronald Reagan had the right idea when blanket amnesty was granted in 1986. The problem was that while immigrants were legalized, a follow through reform of the system was not initiated. Legal immigration was still extremely complicated and highly limited. A new wave of illegal immigrants soon surged in. Now the current wreck of an immigration system needs overhaul.

In addition to legalizing immigrants already here, the process should be significantly relaxed for future applicants. That way, criminals and chronic welfare dependants can be more easily identified and expelled legally in the process of immigration. Meanwhile, the vast majority of hardworking and law-abiding illegal immigrants should be turned into U.S. citizens, so they can be more fully integrated.

Along with this push for reform should be a declaration cementing America's official language as English. Assimilation is not a dirty word in this debate, rather it should be the goal. Immigrants should be encouraged to adapt to American ideals and pursue the dream of a better life. Having English as our official language would be no more xenophobic than France's official language being French. Actual racism or xenophobia is not the goal and should be condemned.

Anyone who wants to have a better life and isn't a criminal or terrorist should have an opportunity. America would be stronger, especially considering the aging native population. English classes and educational assistance should also be provided in order to help with assimilation.

The debate often focuses on unskilled laborers illegally entering the country, overlooking skilled laborers. Current American policy is limited to 65,000 HB-1 visas for skilled workers per fiscal year. The requests for these visas are overwhelming. Politicians resist raising the cap because they fear American jobs will be taken. As one representative put it, "B students deserve to have good jobs and high paying jobs." This goes against the very idea of competition and rewarding hard work. The people who take these visas are likely to be highly productive and valuable citizens. Bill Gates urged politicians to raise the ceiling number, saying the best and brightest people were going to other countries, hindering America's ability to compete.

The current immigration system is both needlessly complex and poorly prioritized. It rewards those who break the law, and punishes the most educated and talented of immigrants. Rather than working toward assimilation and increasing American affluence, it divides Americans and causes a rise in poverty. Massive reforms are not only possible, but practical. The next two years would be as good a time as any to begin those reforms.

Church caters to generations of immigrants

This Chinese church in Illinois is making an effort to be multilingual. A nice change, in the past, churches tried to kill the other languages. DP

Services held in English, Cantonese and Mandarin
By Russell Working | Tribune reporter

In the sanctuary, the Cantonese service has cleared out and the pastor has begun preaching a lively sermon in Mandarin to a new group of worshipers. Upstairs, another congregation fills a hall to sing hymns in English, accompanied by drums and guitars.

And in the Sunday school classes, the languages mix as volunteers switch between English and Chinese.

One hundred years after it began as a mission to Chicago laundry workers, the Chinese Bible Church of Oak Park has found a way to thrive as three congregations in one: English-, Cantonese- and Mandarin-speaking.

The church, which will celebrate its centennial Sunday, includes many Chinese-Americans who feel more comfortable with English than their parents' and grandparents' language. But it has been renewed by generations of Chinese speakers as it reaches out to immigrants and students from the mainland and Taiwan.

The church relocated from downtown Chicago to Oak Park in the 1950s as the congregation's center of gravity spread to the suburbs. Only 20 percent of the congregants live in Oak Park; the rest are scattered across the Chicago area, said Rev. Yoman Man, the senior pastor.

Although immigrant churches often switch to English as American-born generations replace those from abroad, the Chinese Bible Church has maintained a multilingual identity.

In the beginning, the church was composed largely of working-class immigrant men.

"They came as laborers, and there was a restriction for their family to be united [in the U.S.]," Man said. "So the church acted as a kind of connection for them to their homeland."

Several of the early converts returned to China as missionaries, he said.

The parishioners now are mostly ethnic Chinese. But the English-speaking congregation draws some non-Chinese, particularly couples who have adopted children from China, he said.

Barry Lee, an elder who grew up in the church, is the son of Cantonese-speaking immigrants—his father came to this country when he was 16.

"We understand that the first generation will have a second generation, just like myself, and those people will need to be ministered to in English," Lee said.

The congregation is held together by a shared faith, family and culture, said associate pastor Raj Christodoss.

"Many people feel like they've lost a part of their culture as they go through their Monday through Saturday routine, but Sunday brings them back to the things that are important," he said.

Once again, Philadelphia is gateway for immigrants

Philadelphia has always been a gateway for new residents, especially since it is one of the first cities in the U.S. It is quickly becoming a major destination for immigrants again. This article gives the patterns and explains the mix of people and occupations. Very interesting. DP

By Michael Matza, Inquirer Staff Writer

Once a leading gateway for newcomers to the United States, the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metropolitan area "is poised to reemerge" as an increasingly important "destination for immigrants," according to a study to be released today by the Brookings Institution.

"The combination of a relatively new and fast-growing immigrant population means a lot of people, institutions and neighborhoods have to adapt pretty quickly," said Audrey Singer, a senior fellow with the Washington-based policy think tank. Brookings' report will be presented this morning at a Free Library reception with Mayor Nutter as featured speaker and a panel of immigration experts.

Among the chief findings:

Nearly 60 percent of foreign-born people in the 11 counties studied - referred to in the report as "Greater Philadelphia" - arrived in the United States after 1990. That makes them "relative newcomers," with the expected pluses (high energy, for instance) and drawbacks (low English-language skills).

Since 2000, nearly 75 percent of the growth in the region's labor force is attributable to the employment of immigrants.

Although a common stereotype portrays immigrants working in low-skill, low-wage jobs, a substantial number are self-employed entrepreneurs, or work in such highly skilled professions as medicine and the pharmaceutical industry.

"Instead of dominating one or two occupational sectors, 7 to 9 percent of immigrants in Greater Philadelphia cluster in each of nine broad areas," the report notes.

Those areas, in ranked order, are production, sales, office and administrative, food preparation, management, computer and mathematical, health care, transportation, and building and grounds maintenance.
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Immigrants have love for their new land

These people are much more patriotic than most give immigrants credit for. More than many people born here too. Serving in the military and going to war and not even citizens, amazing! DP

By Hernán Rozemberg - Express-News

To immigration skeptics who subscribe to the notion that newcomers are not thankful for their adopted country, Leonardo Aguirre has a simple message: Look at me.

Aguirre, who grew up in poverty in Nicaragua until his parents moved him to California when he was 12, was one of 10 immigrants serving in the U.S. armed forces who became citizens as part of Veterans Day services Tuesday at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

“I appreciate everything this country has given me,” said Aguirre, 22 and a father of two toddlers. He's in his third year with the Air Force and is stationed at Lackland AFB.

“By joining the military and now becoming a citizen, I'm doing my part of the bargain,” added Aguirre after receiving his citizenship certificate to roaring applause.

He's not the only foreigner to put on a U.S. military uniform.

There are more than 65,000 immigrants serving in the armed forces and about 645,000 immigrant veterans, according to a report released this month by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C.

Mexico, the country at the center of the national immigration debate because it's by far the largest source of immigrants, has the second-largest representation among active-duty military and veterans, after the Philippines.

More than 6,000 active-duty military and about 73,000 veterans came from Mexico, according to MPI.

The military has a long tradition of recruiting immigrants during wartime, and President Bush issued an executive order in 2002 giving them a faster transition to citizenship, dropping a rule requiring them to serve one year before being allowed to apply.

Since the war on terror was declared in September 2001, nearly 43,000 immigrants in the military have gained citizenship, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — almost 6,000 of them sworn in while deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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Underground, Undocumented Undergraduates Dream Big

A thoughtful article about several undocumented university students who have earned degrees but can't use them. Such a waste, just think how much this country needs these educated young people! DP

by Yasmin Nouh

The United States is a land where people of different ethnic backgrounds come to achieve what this country is most famously known for: the American Dream. It is a dream echoed in many homes of first generation Americans and is usually pursued by immigrants, people who are not born in America, but nevertheless come to America, work hard and make this country what it is today. It is the opportunity to make individual choices without the restrictions of class, caste, religion, race or ethnic group. Even though you might identify yourself as an American, raised for the majority of your lifetime in Los Angeles or Orange County, there is still one giant roadblock to this dream for a mass minority: immigration status.

Last week’s Rainbow Festival, presented by the UC Irvine Cross-Cultural Center, featured Underground Undergrads, a teach-in on immigrant students and their struggle to create political change. The event, led by UCLA graduate Matias Ramos and UCI graduate Angela Chen, featured the growing student movement around access to higher education for undocumented students. The event was also part of the 2008 fall campus book tour, where a group of undocumented students from UCLA share their stories of financial hardship and emotional distress in a publication entitled “Underground Undergrads.” These students have since been at the forefront of organizing for the passage of state and federal Dream Acts and lobbying for comprehensive immigration reform across the country.

However, a lingering feeling of shame is still prevalent. As one undocumented student at UCI explains, “Why am I breaking the law? I am told that it’s not my fault that my parents came here illegally. It wasn’t my decision, and my parents tell me to keep your academics up.” So then the question becomes: should a student be penalized for actions committed by his or her parents?
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Minnesota example can help immigrants

Another story about Minnesota, this one about the present immigrants, mostly Hispanic and Somali. The state's programs to help these people are very successful. DP

By DAN BARKER, Times Staff Writer

Immigrant integration workers returned from Minnesota this week with a more optimistic view of the future.

OneMorgan County Coordinator Brenda Zion said the Minnesota efforts to help immigrants assimilate to America hold out great hope for Morgan County.

She took a trip to greater Minneapolis and several agencies this week along with Karen Liston, an English as a Second Language teacher with the Fort Morgan School District, and others from Greeley, Zion said.

It may seem surprising, but Minneapolis is a pretty international city, she said.

It began dealing with an influx of Hispanics and Somalis many years ago, which has given it experience to share with other cities, Zion said.

For instance, Zion's first stop was at the Winnetka Learning Center, which offers services like basic adult education combined with children's preschool education, she said.

This program not only helps adults to find jobs, but often the children do not need English as a Second Language courses when they go to school, Zion said.

"They have a huge waiting list," she said, because the program is so successful.

An important component of this program is the home-school liaison, who is on call as needed to act as an interpreter not only of language but of customs for the large population the center serves, Zion said.

A full-time school liaison would be a big advantage for Morgan County, she said.
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Athens-Clarke's first Hispanic detective, supervising officer retires

In just 8 years, this Hispanic police officer has turned things around with Hispanic immigrants. He got them to trust the police force, report crimes and helped them fit into the community. He also has hired more Hispanic officers. This is what every town needs. DP

Aguilar took steps to build trust

By Joe Johnson

One day in 2000, word was spreading that a big fight was brewing at a predominantly Hispanic apartment complex in Northern Clarke County.

When Athens-Clarke police Sgt. Nick Aguilar went to investigate, a child let him know that he'd turned a corner in his work.

"When I arrived, an 8-year-old boy came out and said, 'Here comes our police officer,' and there was no fight," Aguilar said. "It was at that moment I realized that I had gained the trust of the Hispanics in that community, and they respected me enough not to fight."

Aguilar hung up his uniform and gun belt for good Oct. 31, but his retirement from the police department isn't official until this Saturday.

He leaves behind a much different department than when he began - a time when the county government was overwhelmed with an unexpected influx of immigrants.

"Sergeant Aguilar did a good job befriending Hispanic people," said Sister Margarita Martin of Oasis Catolico Santa Rafaela, a Catholic ministry in Pinewood Estates North, a mostly Mexican trailer park.

"He went around the neighborhood and got to know people, really making them feel that the police are not their enemies, but are there to help them," Sister Margarita said.
New immigrants were arriving daily in 1998, but no one on the local police force was Hispanic.

Athens-Clarke police officials knew about Aguilar because of the reputation he had earned from undercover narcotics work with state and federal agencies, and in Walton and Oconee counties. When they asked him to join the local police force, he accepted.
"Chief (Jack) Lumpkin just needed my expertise to try to serve the Hispanic community," Aguilar said. "There was no relationship between that community and the police at that time, and I became the liaison and brought them together."

Many immigrants had a deep mistrust of police because they came from countries where officers were corrupt, and they worried that local authorities would deport them.

That meant crimes against Hispanics or crimes they witnessed went unreported, Aguilar said.
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Scandinavian heritage lives on in Minneapolis museum

Scandinavians are a very important part of Minnesota and other northern states. This museum tells their story, very much like the story of other immigrant groups in this country. Especially about learning English and assimilating. Very interesting. DP

By Wayne Anderson

MINNEAPOLIS - Neither of my grandmothers ever became comfortable speaking English, so they continued to speak Swedish or Norwegian until they died. Like many people from Minnesota and the Dakotas, my mother had a noticeable Norwegian accent. The female sheriff’s accent in the movie "Fargo" is not far removed from the accent of some of my relatives.

The Swedes believed in the value of assimilation for their children and were not as motivated to maintain their language and culture in our area of North Dakota as the Germans were. The Germans continued to speak their language in their homes and expected the schools to teach their children English. My parents, on the other hand, didn’t speak Swedish to us but continued to use it as a secret language between each other.

If you are of Scandinavian descent, a visit to the American Swedish Institute, or ASI, in Minneapolis is one way to make quick contact with your heritage and also to get in touch with some aspects of the immigrant experience.

It is fitting that Minnesota is the most Scandinavian state and Minneapolis the most Scandinavian city in the United States. Both Carla and I are close enough to our past that when we visited Sweden several years ago we took time to visit with the sides of our families that didn’t immigrate to the United States in the late 1800s.

One of the captions on a display at the ASI points out that "The second generation could not sustain a Swedish speaking sub-culture and gradually rejected the ethnic past of its parents. However, some members of the third generation secure in their American identities returned to their roots with the revival of interest in Swedish culture." The institute’s offering of courses in the Swedish language, Scandinavian woodcarving, folk dancing and Swedish knyppling, or lace making, encourages that revival of interest.

The mansion or "castle" that houses the institute was a gift to Minneapolis from Swan Turnblad, a Swedish immigrant who published a local Swedish newspaper, The Svenska Amerikanska Posten, became rich and wanted to leave a legacy.
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

US needs talented immigrants

An interesting opinion piece. I did not vote the way he did, but I agree with the rest of this. We need immigrants, especially skilled, trained people. DP

By David J. Chapman, president of Chapman Immigration Law Group

It is the day after the election and we have President-elect Barack Obama. As a Republican, I wanted Sen. John McCain to win, but that is not what happened. However, on the day after the election, we must put aside the Republican and Democratic party labels and simply be Americans. We need to realize that we are all in this together. On Jan. 20, 2009, we will have President Obama, and not Democratic President Obama. I will consider him my president too. I consider all the early attacks counterproductive to the growth and prosperity of the nation. I also consider the reaction of Wall Street to be less than acceptable. Give the man a chance. Let us see how he does. If we take a stubborn approach and are adamantly opposed to him from day one then it becomes all the more difficult for us to unite as a nation behind the president in the future. He may do very well.

I cannot say I will agree with the president-elect on every issue, but there are issues I do agree with him on. I believe my party made a mess of immigration law. Sky-high government filing fees have imposed hardship on young families and business. The president-elect has openly recognized this ridiculous skyward trend in fees, and has made it an issue to change that. It is an issue I will be watching closely.

At the same time, the president-elect has pledged to make more professional and specialty worker visas available to business, which is exactly what we should want. Many times in the past, Alan Greenspan has said that in order to finance the debt and benefits for the aging population that accompanies the baby boom, we need to relax the restraints on immigration. Fewer children in our society means fewer future adult workers and a greater tax burden on those who enter the work force in the future. I am sure that many Americans would be more open to immigration if they realized the tax burden their children will have to carry in the future just to keep the country running. We need people.
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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Gateway to Buddha

This story is about another immigrant group in this country, one many of us hardly even know is here. These Cambodian Buddhists in Oregon have built a new temple for their community. DP

Cambodian religious center in Oregon is a concrete achievement, in more ways than one
By David Tenenbaum

It's early summer, 2008. I am perched on a scaffold 25 feet above a driveway just outside the village of Oregon, south of Madison, looking down at a white house that was built — I'm guessing — in the 1920s. The windows were busted out long ago, and I notice that the house has progressed from ramshackle through dilapidated to true hoveldom. Then I return to the task at hand: struggling to place a handmade casting on an enormous ornamental gateway.

I am helping two Cambodian Buddhist monks — Soy Seng and Sakoeurn Korn, as they are known on their American citizenship papers — and I am frustrated. We are working overhead, the blood is draining from our arms, and to me falls the sorry job of eyeballing the level that will establish the correct position.

That means I must announce, over and over, that the current try is good, but not perfect.

Calmly, persistently and cheerfully, Soy, the chief monk, has us relocate the casting, striving for an accuracy far beyond what I think the situation demands. His assistant, Sakoeurn, unflinchingly repositions the casting.

I join in, and eventually we get it right.

Accuracy within a 16th of an inch would be close enough for the average person building a giant gateway that reaches a peak of 35 feet tall, but not here. After all, this gateway will announce the presence of a Cambodian Buddhist temple on County Highway MM, just north of U.S. Highway 14. (The temple is now several years old; the gateway and fence will be done in a year, then further building will occur.)

Mention "Buddhist temple" in Madison, and most people assume you mean Deer Park, the well-known temple for Tibetan Buddhists, which the Dalai Lama visited this summer. Few people know about the Cambodians. Although only about a mile separates the two temples, the forms of Buddhism they practice are worlds apart in theology and culture, and the groups have little contact.

As we wait for the blood to return to our arms, I remind Soy what happened 12 years ago in the ruins beneath us. It was the place where we began our friendship.

In 1996 I was asked by a friend, Roger Garms, if I'd like to teach English to a monk for whom the local Cambodians had, amazingly, managed to garner immigration papers. Roger, a psychologist, said the temple and its new monk were supposed to help hundreds of impoverished Cambodians integrate into Dane County by sustaining their native culture.
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Report laments 'brain waste' of skilled immigrants

This immigrant from Peru, who was a surgeon there, can only find work here walking dogs. Such a waste!. Many other immigrants have the same problem, they need help with English and upgrading of their skills and they could get back into the professions they were trained for. DP

By Teresa Watanabe | Los Angeles Times

As a physician in Peru, Luis Garcia amassed nine years of medical education and five years of practice, including successful appendectomies, Caesarean deliveries and other surgeries. Since he immigrated to Southern California four years ago, he has earned a community college degree specializing in geriatrics.

But the only work he's been able to find has been cat-sitting, dog-walking and elder care.

That's because Garcia hasn't yet been able to pass the battery of requirements for a U.S. medical license, including several exams and a residency. He represents what a new report calls a massive "brain waste" of highly educated and skilled immigrant professionals who potentially could, with a little aid, help ease looming labor shortages nationwide in health care, computer sciences and other skilled jobs.

"I feel lost," Garcia said. "Sometimes I'm embarrassed to talk to my family back home and tell them I'm taking care of dogs. But I know someday I will be able to do my geriatrics practice, and I know there are people here who need my help."

Nationwide, more than 1.3 million college-educated immigrants are unemployed or working in unskilled jobs such as dishwashers or taxi drivers, according to the report by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute.

Professionals from Latin America and Africa fared worse than those from Asia and Europe, the study found. Two of the biggest barriers were lack of English fluency and nonrecognition of foreign academic and professional criteria.

In some cases, for instance, U.S. medical systems require different course work typically not required abroad, such as maternity and psychiatric nursing, according to Julie Hughes-Lederer, interim director of the Los Angeles County Regional Health Occupations Resource Center.
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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Free Web Site Launched to Help Immigrants Learn English

Please click on the title and read the whole press release to find out about this new Web site -- a tool to help immigrants learn English. DP


11 Million Limited-English Adults Could Benefit from

Contact: Samara Yudof or Jim Bradshaw, (202) 401-1576

The U.S. Department of Education today launched U.S.A. Learns, a free Web site to help immigrants learn English. The Web site, which is located at, provides approximately 11 million adults who have low levels of English proficiency with easily accessible and free English language training.

"America's limited-English adults will now have readily available materials to improve their literacy and help them become more productive workers, better parents, engaged community members and active citizens," said Troy Justesen, assistant secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education.

Launch of the site completes one of the goals in President Bush's Aug. 10, 2007, announcement of 26 immigration reforms that his Administration would pursue within existing law -- including the assimilation of new citizens and helping immigrants learn English to expand their opportunities in America. Recognizing that "[k]nowledge of English is the most important component of assimilation" and "an investment in tools to help new Americans learn English will be repaid many times over," the Administration pledged to launch a free, Web-based portal to help immigrants learn English.
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Michigan Legislature getting 1st female Muslim

Another way to live the American Dream. This woman won a seat in the state legislature and is its first female Muslim legislator. She was helped by her Jewish boss, the incumbent, who had to leave because of term limits. Only in America. DP


DETROIT (AP) — Michigan is getting its first female Muslim legislator, thanks in large part to her Jewish boss, the incumbent.

Rashida Tlaib, a lawyer, community activist and daughter of Palestinian immigrants, easily won a House seat in Tuesday's general election after emerging from an eight-way Democratic primary with 44 percent of the vote in August.

Tlaib, 32, said she wouldn't have run but for the repeated urging of Democratic state Rep. Steve Tobocman, who is stepping down because of term limits. Once she decided to run, she threw herself into it, knocking on 8,000 doors and hitting each household twice.

Southeastern Michigan has about 300,000 people with roots in the Arab world, but few of them live in Tlaib's largely black and Hispanic district in southwest Detroit.

"We view her victory as a sign that Michigan Muslims are welcomed as a part of our state's multi-faith and multiethnic society," said Dawud Walid, Michigan director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

According to the American Muslim Alliance, only nine Muslims were serving in state legislatures nationwide before Tuesday's elections, and only one of them is a woman. There are two Muslim members of Congress — Democrats Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson of Indiana.

The Michigan Legislature's first known Muslim member, James Karoub, served three terms in the state House in the 1960s.
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Bishop: Embrace immigrants, regardless of status

Arkansas' bishop says Catholic should welcome immigrants. Read the full pastoral letter at DP

By Associated Press, on WXVT television

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas' bishops says Catholics should embrace all immigrants as they would the parents of Jesus on the night of his birth, regardless of how they came to the country.

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor issued his first pastoral letter this week to Catholic churches in the state, calling on the Diocese of Little Rock's more than 116,000 parishioners to understand that people have a "God-given right to immigrate."

Though the nation's borders protect its citizens, Taylor warned that federal laws only "impede human migration rather than facilitate it for the common good."

Taylor's pastoral letter, his first since being named bishop in April, was written in both Spanish and English and serves as an authoritative teaching for the diocese. The Little Rock diocese, which covers the entire state, is 55% Hispanic.

The pastoral letter, posted on the diocese' Web site, will be distributed to parishioners November 23. That Sunday, a recorded homily from the bishop on immigration will be played at Masses throughout the state.

Diocese of Little Rock:

Caribbean Voters Among Immigrants Who Boosted VoterTurn Out In NYC

Here is another immigrant community that has exercised their right to vote and joined in a historic election. DP

By CaribWorldNews staff

NEW YORK, NY: Caribbean voters across New York City were among immigrants in the Big Apple who turned out in huge numbers on Election Day, November 4th, the New Americans Exit Poll shows.

The poll of immigrant voters, conducted by the New York Immigrant Coalition and several political researchers, found that the turnout in Afro-Caribbean neighborhoods, such as BedfordStuyvesant and Canarsie, was as high as in neighborhoods made up primarily of native-born blacks. Most voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, according to the survey. Researchers said he gained 82.3 percent of foreign born voters compared to 83.7 percent of native-born votes.

Election results show that Obama won 545,785 votes in Brooklyn, 300,327 votes in the Bronx and 436,398 in Brooklyn. In zip codes where Caribbean nationals live, including not just in Brooklyn but in Southeast Queens and around the North East Bronx, he won some 62 percent of the votes.

Over all, researchers found that voter turnout in New York City on Tuesday increased by about 3 percent over 2004 with immigrant New Yorkers making up more than 40 percent of first-time New York City voters in the election. Researchers interviewed 4,732 New York voters, of which 1,218 were foreign-born in neighborhoods across New York City.

The immigrants’ top concerns were jobs and the economy, same as their native-born counterparts.

The voting statistics in New York City come as several Caribbean leaders have called for meetings with the new administration and even outlined their agenda. But political pundits in the Caribbean Diaspora say the leaders must bear in mind that it is the Diaspora voting power that will determine whether their requests are given priorities going forth in the Obama administration.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

SL educator: Language is key to immigration issue

This assistant professor understands how important it is for immigrants to learn English if they want to succeed in this country. She has been here 11 years, an immigrant from Moscow. DP

By: Dana Larsen, Pilot Tribune Editor

For Katya Koubek, the key to understanding is to be found within the beauty of common language, and multicultural Storm Lake is a perfect place to search for that key.

The Buena Vista University assistant professor of education is becoming a national leader in the campaign to win cultural gaps through language teaching. Along the way, she is involving Storm Lake's Latino immigrant population and their perceptions of their new country.

When Koubek speaks of the immigrant experience, it is with the passion of someone who has lived it.

"I came here from Moscow," she says. "I've been 11 years in the U.S. and four at BVU, where I was brought in to develop a program to teach language aquisition. It's been so exciting, because nothing like that existed before. We have been able to create it from scratch."

Far from any traditional ports of call, BVU has been quietly working to build a population of international students, and is currently focusing on recruiting from places like Taiwan and Vietnam - not just to educate people from other countries, but because a multicultural environment is a positive learning environment is a positive learning experience even for students who grew up entirely in Iowa.

With the help of a a student assistant, Koubek gathered opinions from local Latinos at various businesses around Storm Lake.

"A lot of what we discovered about their attitudes on immigration and illegal immigrants was surprising even to us. We would like to do more work in depth on this. One thing that I thought was interesting is that we have people in Storm Lake who earned master's-level degrees in Mexico and they are working as meatpackers in our Tyson plant."
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Immigrants Drawn to U.S. 'Boomtowns'

Several cities are drawing immigrants to their areas because of job growth. With the recent economic downturn, many of these cities are having problems, along with their immigrant population. DP

By the DiversityInc staff

Immigrants have been flocking to places high in job growth and low in the cost of living rather than cities traditionally associated with large immigrant populations, such as New York, Los Angeles and Miami, ABC News reports. Topping the list is the Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., area, which saw a 122 percent growth in its immigrant population between 2000 and 2007, according to the Brookings Institution.

Other cities with large increases in immigrants include Orlando, with a 64 percent increase, and Raleigh, N.C., with a 62 percent increase.

Raleigh, part of North Carolina's "research triangle," has seen growth in professional and scientific jobs, while Orlando, a major tourist destination, has seen growth in service jobs. The makeup of immigrant populations varies widely from city to city, ABC News reports.

In Phoenix, Ariz., 70 percent of the foreign-born population is from Latin America, while Nashville, Tenn., has one of the largest Kurdish populations in the country. In Columbus, Ohio, 40 percent of foreign-born people are from Asia.

But some of these boomtowns are now going bust--28 percent of immigrants in Cape Coral worked in the construction industry in 2007, which has been hard hit by the collapse of the housing market.

Las Vegas has been one of the fastest growing cities in the 21st century, seeing a 65 percent increase in its immigrant population between 2001 and 2007. But 58 percent of those immigrants work in construction or service jobs that are especially vulnerable in the current economic downturn. The rate of growth in immigration has already slowed, ABC News reports, and in some cases, immigrants may end up returning to their countries of origin.
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Labor Unions Now Recruiting Immigrant Workers

For years, labor unions did not court immigrant workers, they have changed their thoughts on this and are now recruiting them. DP

By Jennifer Ludden, NPR Radio

All Things Considered · Times are changing when it comes to labor unions and immigrant workers.

For more than a century, organized labor has had a wary attitude toward immigrant workers. The reasoning was that the more foreign workers in the labor market, the less bargaining power for unions — especially if those workers were undocumented and easily exploited.

But in recent years, some labor unions have made a dramatic shift: They're now recruiting immigrants, no matter their legal status.

In the mid-1990s, Gig Rittenauer was a roofer in Ohio and a loyal member of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers. He was frustrated by the increasing number of immigrants he'd see staffing construction jobs. So Rittenauer and some colleagues started keeping cameras in their cars and paying random visits to work sites.

"We'd take pictures," says Rittenauer. "It really drives 'em off, because they know that they're illegal. And that was a ploy just to scare 'em really."

The ploy made Rittenauer feel like he was having an effect protecting his union job. But eventually he realized the immigrant workers weren't going away for good — and the federal government wasn't going to make them.

That's when Rittenauer decided that if an immigrant is here working anyway, it is best if he joins the union.

"If he doesn't, he's going to continue to do our work for much less wage and benefits, probably no benefits," he says. "And it's just the nature of the beast. You either rise people up, or you let 'em pull you down."

These days, Rittenauer travels the country recruiting for the roofers union.
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Ray MacNair: Learn from immigrants

This opinion piece talks about how much immigrants have added to the community, and are struggling so much in this economy. DP

Athens Banner-Herald

Recently, the Athens Banner-Herald published a fabulous and comprehensive article by reporter Joe Johnson on the effects of immigrants in this area (Story, "Coming to America: Blessings and challenges," Oct. 26).

Immigrants have made a great contribution to the community, and they face challenges. Jobs have been declining. The Economic Justice Coalition has been meeting weekly with the day laborers at the shelter in front of The Home Depot for more than two years, and we find them to be inspiring, collegial and jovial, as well as troubled by the difficulties in getting good jobs. It also is true that workers have come to this area from other areas where there are no jobs, while they can get a small job here maybe once a week. The EJC's Unity: Cooperative Labor Partners, a nonprofit business, is helping with that.

One of the workers referred to the drug dealers who work across the border. Some are violent. Others simply are good people who share their profits in their Mexican communities by paying for church buildings, schools or parks. They are family- and community-minded people.

Why do they have to deal in drugs? That is a question that has baffled our country and theirs for decades. Are we paying enough attention to the options in Mexico? To the overpopulation, with many new good jobs, but not enough for the burgeoning population?

The Latino immigrants we have come to know are bright people, excellent and hard workers, and cooperative with each other as well as with their employers. They sacrifice a great deal in order to help their families, who often are left behind in Mexico. We have a great deal to learn from them.
Ray MacNair

Immigrant filmmakers want to pass on inspiration with new docudrama

These two young people in Florida are filming a docudrama about four immigrant women who are living the American Dream. It was not easy, but it was worth the struggle. DP

Pair hope future mirrors their latest project

By Luis F. Perez | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Hollywood - In their eyes, the docudrama they're working on reflects the future they hope to have.

Jhonny Obando and Victoria Zapata filmed a docudrama about four immigrant women who have achieved their version of the American Dream. In the film, an international lawyer, a performing arts teacher, a journalist and a business owner comfort another friend going through a divorce. They talk about overcoming challenges that immigrants, especially women, face to reach their professional and personal aspirations.

It's a story that inspires Obando and Zapata, both 27. She's the director; he's a producer.

The two foreign-born filmmakers from Hollywood — Florida's Hollywood, not California's — want to pass on that inspiration to others at film festivals across the country and in Europe, where they hope to show No es fácil ser Mujer (It's not easy being a Woman).

"It was like looking in a mirror 10 years from now," Zapata said. Working out of a Park Colony apartment, the pair plan to finish editing the film in the next few weeks.
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Monday, November 03, 2008

In the classroom with the teacher of the year

This second grade teacher, the child of Cuban immigrants, was named the district's “Teacher of the Year”. She has also taught a technique called "thinking maps" to every elementary teacher in the district. This tool has helped all the teachers and students. DP

Profile in Education

by Mark McDermott

It’s 9 a.m. in Room 18 at Jefferson Elementary School, and second grade teacher Kathy Melsh is practicing her omniscience.
Technically, Ms. Melsh is sitting down with one student at a time and going over their Halloween ghost stories.

“Who’s been in my house?” one student has written, just before her protagonist finds out: “Then he saw the spooky, scary, slimly monster!” Ms. Melsh leans over the table she and the little girl share, close to the student’s looping second grade scrawl, correcting grammar — “floted back” to “floated back” – quizzing her about question marks versus exclamation points, and then finally pronouncing the story “very scary stuff!” The girl beams.

But throughout her one-on-one time with each student, Melsh somehow keeps a laser-beam focus on all 20 students in the room. When one boy seems to be trying to fly, she fixes a stern look at him and he freezes, hands in midair. “Christopher, love!” she says, and that’s all it takes – he begins writing again. Another boy temporarily lies on the floor. “Christian, love! Do you need to come sit next to me?” Soon, he too is back at work.

Ms. Melsh has become semi-famous among her students for this eerily broad yet specific attention span.
“Sometimes it kind of freaks them out,” she said after class. “You have to be on your toes at all times. If you miss one thing, it can cause chaos.”
And it’s not an easy trick to master. “She leaves school exhausted every day, I’m sure,” said Principal Stephen Edmunds.

Within Redondo Beach Unified School District, Melsh’s ability to reach each student has won another kind of attention. District leadership named Melsh “Teacher of the Year” earlier this month, both as recognition for her work in her own classroom as well as the impact she has had district-wide.

Melsh, who is 28, last year trained every elementary teacher in the district a new teaching technique called “thinking maps,” a graphic organizing tool that students at all grade levels can use to help order their thoughts. Melsh, along with district English Language Development specialist Courtney Baker, learned about the tool and how to implement it in teaching at a seminar they attended and then brought “thinking maps” to RBUSD.
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