I Support Refugees

Omran Daqneesh

Refugees are suffering around the world. Without taking sides about how this has happened and assigning blame, these refugees have real life threatening circumstances that we can only imagine. Often these refugees must escape where they have been living to stay alive.

My crude sketch is of the five year old boy, Omran Daquneesh, who was playing with his brother who was 10 years old in the street. Omran was found under rubble after the bombing of Aleppo. He was photographed on August 20, 2016. His brother died. Omran is the face of many people who need to leave Aleppo, Syria, but can’t. He needs to be a refugee. When we do not allow but only a few Syrian refugees into the USA, we are blocking children such as Omran.

This is the story from The Guardian. It includes a video of Omran.

When those of us who want to ban refugees from our shores and particularly Syrian ones, they are often making their decisions based on worst case scenarios and fear towards these refugees. Fear towards those we do not know has never brought good solutions, particularly when that fear are not based on facts. During the Obama administration last year, 85,000 refugees have been resettled in the USA. About 11,000 of those refugees are Syrian.

Here is a report that has good points to think about.


A few weeks ago on Facebook, I was “liking” an Alicia Keys post about her Wearing No Makeup. Underneath that post, I saw another post and watched this remarkable 11 minute video. It captured the refugee experience with so much compassion and love.


Not only are them some Americans, who are unwelcoming to the current refugees in this world, here are two stories, one about Calais, France which also includes England and the other is about Australia.

From September 13, 2016 Morning Edition there are 2 stories
1. “For One French Woman An Eye-Opening Visit to Calais Refugee ‘Jungle’
2. “A Refugee’s Tale: He Escaped Iran; He’s Stuck on a Pacific Island”

To me the refugee “problem” is one because we humans make it one.

It is hopeful that in the USA, it is often in the churches in various states that take up on the behalf of refugees. The church members in these churches live what they preach in action. In this case, the church and its members belong to the Nassau Presbyterian Church of Princeton, NJ. This was a story from September 14, 2016 on National Public Radio.


The Show is called: “NJ Church Group To Resettle Syrian Refugee Family with Special Needs”

It is not being “politically correct” to be kind to people who are in dire need as many refugees are. I am merely being humane. When I or we look away from what is happening in our world, I and we just become cold and heartless. I am NOT being the best I can be unless I care about others as I do myself.


I Am an Immigrant

barbaraewadeExcept for First Nations’ people or indigenous people, ALL of the rest of us Americans are immigrants, including me. I am from English and French descendants. My mother’s side (French and English) arrived in colonial North America on the Mayflower, but so what!

“We all came on different ships, but we are all in the same boat now.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

My point is that the USA is a nation of immigrants, so I refuse to vilify immigrants.

In my lifetime for nearly 8 years I was an immigrant living as a student in another country. It was a memorable experience in a beautiful country. However, even though I learned the language and spoke it fluently (it took about 2 years), I was always an outsider. At the time many of our friends were immigrants too, some of them from the former Czechoslovakia which became two countries in 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Several of those friends were actually refugees because they were fleeing a 1968 upheaval in Czechoslovakia when Soviet troops invaded their country. Other friends were from Austria. Later on we had friends who were from the country where we lived. Some of those friends had family members who were both from that country where we lived and married to people who were also immigrants themselves. From this experience, I learned what it felt like to be an immigrant, the pressure of the challenges that I had to face to live in a different culture each day, and to not feel fully accepted by the people in that country.

When I taught English to immigrants as an English-as-a Second-Language teacher, my own experience helped me to feel compassion towards my students and their difficulties. As a language teacher, I knew how hard it was to learn a foreign language. As I learned while teaching, English is one of the most difficult languages to learn on the planet because of pronunciation problems and the number of words in English. For non-native speakers, it is even more difficult than it is for those of us who are born in the USA.

For those Americans who have lived several generations in the USA and are citizens, some of us have fallacies about what we know about new undocumented immigrants. Here is some debunking of those untruths:

1. Undocumented workers do in FACT pay TAXES, over $11.6 BILLION. Here’s a report.


2. Illegal immigrants make up only 5% of the the workforce for the USA. Thus, we cannot claim that illegal immigrants are “taking” all our jobs! This report is from 2015.

5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S.

3. From “Forbes” magazine. Here is another article from the end of 2015 about how illegal immigrants help this country and DON’T take our JOBS.

4. Through American history immigrants have started some of the most important businesses in this country. This website names many of them.

Immigrant Entrepreneur Hall of Fame


WE Americans forced about 400,000 people from AFRICA to come to the USA
We forced them into slavery.
Many died during the crossing of the “Middle Passage”.
Slavery lasted nearly 400 (from the 1500s to 1865) years.
Africans and African Americans have NEVER been made
To feel welcomed by many Americans.

We brought Chinese workers to the USA to build railroads and mine gold in 1848.
From 1882 to 1943 America BANNED new Chinese people from immigrating
With the Chinese Exclusion Act.
They were never made to feel completely welcomed.

The Irish people came in 1848 after the potato famine
About 1 million Irish people had died of starvation in Ireland.
In 1848 WE put up signs where they landed in the USA,
That said about jobs: “Irish need not apply”.
Initially they were not welcomed.

The Italian people arrived in the USA beginning in late 1800s.
The greatest immigration was from 1900- 1924.
They faced great prejudice and name calling.
After 50% of the immigrant Italians earned money in the USA,
They returned to Italy.
That is how welcomed many Italians felt.

In the 1880s Americans allowed Japanese people to immigrate.
Workers were needed because in Pacific Northwest
Railroads needed to be built,
And we had already banned the Chinese, so….
During World War II, the Japanese living
On the West coast of the USA
Were put into internment or concentration camps
From 1942 to 1946.
Many of the young Japanese American men and women in those camps
Served in all branches of the service
As soldiers during World War II.
Today some Japanese people may still feel unwelcomed in the USA.

Latino people have always been in the USA.
They were the second people to inhabit the USA after the indigenous people.
They lived in states such as in California, Florida, and New Mexico.
They were in Texas and Arizona.
We people of the USA came later with bigger guns!
What do you think the Alamo was about?
Today many have vilified Latino people for coming here.
We have made SURE they do not feel welcomed
In the past and today.

I could go on. I’ve left out many groups of people,
Who will we unwelcome next?

Or we, as a people, could choose to actually embrace our role,
As a nation of immigrants,
And break the pattern of our xenophobic past.
Maybe then we can ACTUALLY begin to live as a nation
With liberty and justice for ALL.

I am an immigrant in the USA. That is something I try to remember when I see or meet a new immigrant. I have had the good fortune to teach immigrants, so I have little or no fear welcoming them to this my country. They may look different from me, have different customs, and accents. I had and still have an accent when I speak German and Spanish. In our country we have different accents in different regions. I make an effort to be more open hearted towards all people, and I know this is the right thing to do because I am a fellow human being with everyone in this country and on this planet. It is the hate and fear that separates us, love binds us together. All I can do is strive towards love.


What Works and Doesn’t Work in Education

img_2221During my 24 years as a teacher and even before that, I experienced what worked for me to successfully reach students. The common ground for most teachers who reach children and students is they care. One of the ideas that I saw work, was prior to my teaching in a school system. I was fortunate to live in another country which values education highly. That is the country of Switzerland.
Most of the European countries put education at the top of the list near health care to provide for their citizens. It was there that I saw and heard of “Apprenticeship”- as a form of training and teaching in certain fields and professions. This kind of apprenticeship has NOTHING to do with the fake “Reality” show of which Donald Trump was a star. This is NOT entertainment.

One thing I witnessed in Switzerland was that their education system provided many paths to education. At 15 years old students went to different tracks in education. One of those tracks was to do apprenticeships in many different fields. In the USA we act like everyone is going to finish the same high school, which is academic. That kind of education does NOT serve all parts of our population. Instead some of those students end up dropping out of school and have no path to employment, which leads them down the road to poverty.

This REAL apprenticeship works to help train students and actually is run by the German Corporation, Grenzebach, in the state of Georgia. At the end of three years the students participating will be certified Industrial Mechanics by Germany. The program begins when the students are 15 years old. Take a listen.

This is from the August 5, 2016 program of Here and Now on NPR radio. You can listen to the podcast. The story is in the First Hour of Here and Now from the 37-40:23 minutes.


You will NOT hear any “You’re fired” in this podcast.

We Americans do not have to reinvent forms of education that work to train people to become skilled workers who can earn good incomes. Apprenticeships have been working well for hundreds of years. As educators we need to just open our minds and do what works, not what is expedient or cheap! Let’s invest in all children’s futures.

As a former teacher I have great respect and empathy for most teachers. This story shows what IS NOT working in American education.

This last weekend I heard another story about GOOD and excellent teachers and why they are quitting before they reach retirement age. This is a REAL problem. I have known many teachers where this has been the case. We usually lose the teachers who care the most because they are so micromanaged by outrageous paperwork and administrative oversight that has almost NOTHING to do with teaching or being an excellent, caring teacher who has made a difference in many children’s lives.

The paperwork has become “soul sucking” as the teacher, Rick Young, calls it. It is pretty sick that after 25 years of great teaching, administrators need to take time away from good teaching and lose people such as, Rick Young, who really cared and worked tirelessly to insure their students’ success.

This is from “Weekend Edition, Saturday, September 3, 2016
The title of the show is:
“A Veteran Teacher Quits Under a Weary Load- and He’s Just One of Many”



Working Together II

During my life when I have worked with a group, together we were able to accomplish some amazing things. This was particularly true when most of the people involved had the same commitment. The first time I experienced this, was with a volunteer organization called Beyond War in the 1980s. It wasn’t as if all of us agreed all of the time. In fact this organization taught me during a workshop I took, that conflict was a normal human behavior, so this was a peace organization which fully acknowledged people’s differences and honored them. I had never experienced that before neither in my family nor my marriage, so this was a life lesson I embraced whole-heartedly. Beyond War also taught me that all of us humans are one. 23 years of work as an English-as-a Second Language teacher solidified that belief about us humans.

Before the my years of working with Beyond War, which became Foundation for a Global Community, I was used to all conflict being solved with domination of the older or stronger individual and fights about who was right and who was wrong. There was no “win-win” for all people involved, except for the dominant person. There was little or no listening to each other and little learning or mutual respect. The “weaker” person was usually left feeling resentful towards the “stronger” person. Competition not cooperation was how we rolled and how I learned to communicate. When I became a single mother when my daughter was 4 years old, I still had this pattern of communicating.

Beyond War is still active in the northwest in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Their website is: beyondwarnw.org/

and also lives on online as:

Beyond War Legacy

The group Beyond War showed me another way. When my daughter was in high school, at one point I put on my mirror in my bathroom “Would you rather be RIGHT or be HAPPY” as a way to remind me that being “right” was a sell out. My daughter put the same saying on her mirror in her bathroom, but when friends came to visit, she removed it because they asked her about it. At least every day I was reminded that I had a choice of how I responded.

These days I search for stories that show people working together toward something positive. Just last week I hear two stories. One was about saving an animal, a toucan named Grecia from Costa Rica. So many people were part of the process of helping this toucan. Also laws may change in Costa Rica to protect all animals from killers who have been maiming animals because of this story about Grecia. You can see Grecia and his story on youtube.

In another story from July, after 100 years of not being able to fish for salmon in Burns, Oregon, many members of the Paiute tribe there, were finally able to fish for salmon on the Malheur River. The Paiute had had the cultural tradition of fishing for salmon on the Malheur River, prior to the dams. The Oregon fisheries manager, Erica Maltz, worked with tribal chairperson, Charlotte Rodriguez, to truck in and reintroduce 200 salmon beyond the dams that are on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, so that tribal members could fish for the salmon once again.
You can hear this story on Oregon Public Broadcasting radio:


For a final story which is very current, concerns and the historic flooding and horrific damage in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and all the clean up help the residents are receiving from people from New Orleans and around the world. Try to listen to the entire podcast. I hope it will warm your heart as it did mine!


“Now we have black and white officials working together. Today, we have gone beyond just passing laws. Now we have to create a sense we are one community, one family. Really we are the American family.”
– John Lewis

All of these stories remind me that when we work with each other, we can make all of our lives better including our animal friends. Stories such as these fill me with hope about our common future.