What I’m Reading: Undocumented in San Mateo and Cambridge and the Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

These days, I get most of my news from Twitter and Facebook. 3 interesting reads that popped up (all on Thursday morning, I believe):

1. Facebook pointed me to The Transition Continues: Teen Migrant from El Salvador Tries to Fit in At School (from KQED). An article on a recent immigrant from El Salvador and her transition to life in the San Francisco Bay Area (not the school I work at). The issues she’s facing are similar to the issues many of our students face. A quote that stands out to me:

“Even if she were fluent tomorrow, Jennifer would not be able to graduate. School officials say that because she turns 18 next year, she will not have enough time to satisfy all the high school requirements in time. Jennifer will have to enroll in adult school or find work at the end of next year.”

2. Facebook also pointed me to The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace (via NPR), which is an account of a young black man who grew up outside of Newark, dealt drugs, went to Yale, returned to the neighborhood he was from and was eventually shot. I broke down and bought a copy on Friday. As far as I can tell, the book tries to cover all aspects of Robert’s life rather than framing him as just a Yale graduate or just a young man from Newark or (just a insert-your-own-soundbite-here).

Excerpt (of an excerpt, ha):

“The father-son bond is big stuff, of course, and particularly here. Rob really revered his father, who was sort of the “mayor” of the neighborhood, as I gathered — had a kind word to say about everyone. They would leave the house and go eat full meals at seven different friends’ houses over the course of a day. He was very active in Rob’s academic life — drilled him with good penmanship, the importance of memory, and continued to do so from prison using the prison phones once or twice a week.

I think it made him a leader. Also, I think that experience really built his incredible capacity for friendship, particularly with friends in his school and around his neighborhood, many of whom shared this plight of fatherlessness. And that’s how they processed together.”

3. Twitter pointed me to: I Told Harvard I was an Undocumented Immigrant. They Gave Me A Full Scholarship. Written by someone who’s now a junior at Harvard who is undocumented about what the college application process was like. I kind of want to pass this on to our senior teachers.


“Still, I realize that my privileges and challenges are rare in the undocumented community. There are students whose parents have never filed a tax return and so cannot provide proof of income to qualify for scholarships. There are students who are here without their parents. There are students who do have to hold down a job if they want to go to college or even high school. Most undocumented immigrants are not nearly as lucky as I’ve been. And with the immigration stalemate in Washington, it’s unlikely that life for those in the shadows will become easier anytime soon.”


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