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To the Ones Left Behind

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For those of us whose ancestors came to the US long ago, the thoughts of those left behind may no longer fill our minds. However, for recent immigrants and refugees, those left behind are a constant presences in their lives. Everyday, I see this in the faces of those to whom I teach English as a second language. Everyday, I walk the tightrope of asking students to share experiences, while praying they do not fall into the PTSD caused by living and escaping the unimaginable.

The stories of my ancestors are fragmented at best. I know some dates. I know some facts. I can only imagine the rest. 

My mother's father, my Grandpa, was first generation American. Born in NYC shortly after his family arrived from what is now Slovakia. Doing my genealogy, I have learned that the family returned to the Old Country when he was a toddler and returned when he was 14, just months before the start of the First World War. At that time, Kosicka Bela (now Kosice) was part of Austria-Hungary. Who knows w…

The Time Has Come

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Photo from Google Public Domain
There was a time in the history of this country when parents and teachers held up the president as an example to children. Presidents had qualities to be emulated. The family of the president was also worthy of imitation, the highest form of flattery. 

However, that was before the present administration. Now, parents fear turning on the news while children are in the room because they are not sure what words will be reported or, worse yet, spoken by the president. 

How do you explain to a child why hate, misogyny, bigotry, and poorly constructed sentences are falling from the lips of the person who is running our country? How do you justify the apparent inability to feel compassion for others? How do you defend the need to play golf when our neighbors are drowning, when their homes are burning, or when the earth opens up, swallowing everything whole? 

Worse of all, how do we explain as parents and teachers, who have trusted in the democratic system created …