On Wednesday as I was driving to school I was overcome with sadness and fear for the children who I was going to see in a few short hours. The children in my school are representative of the true meaning of the American melting pot. Of our 515 children, 130 of them speak English as a second language. Our students and their families come from all over the world including Mexico, Palestine, Iraq, and Turkey to name a few. Their families came to America in search of a better life. On that drive to school I was planning the words I wanted to say to them so they would continue to believe that America truly is a place where they are safe and respected. What I could not plan for though, were the questions and concerns they would share with my staff and I soon after they walked through the doors of our school on Wednesday morning.
By 9:30, my guidance counselor and I were making the rounds to classrooms to give children time to share their thoughts and fears about the election results. Nothing could have prepared me for what I heard from our students. Here are some of the thoughts and fears that our 2nd graders shared:
“Maybe if I don’t speak Spanish anymore, he won’t know that I’m Mexican.”
“I’m worried about the wall. If they build it, I won’t be able to see my family.”
“My dad is from Palestine. I’m afraid he’s going to have to go back.”
As my teachers, guidance counselor and I listened to the genuine concerns of our students it was difficult to find the right words. This was our message to them:
You are safe. There are lots good people in this country who will protect you and your family.
One person cannot make all of the rules in America. The people work together to make the rules.
Continue to spread kindness. We are so lucky to come to a school where every day we learn with people from all over the world. We don’t ever want you to hide who you really are. Instead we all need to celebrate one another.
Now more than ever we need to use our influence as educators to spread kindness, to promote tolerance and to celebrate differences. We can make a difference in the lives of children, and now, more than ever a difference needs to be made.