Recently, I had this "ordeal". And instead of the usual day of working, researching, studying, exercising, and then sleeping. I decided to talk to a friend. And yes, I talk to many people to discuss what happened and their thoughts, but today I wanted to go by Jim and listen to what he thought. So, today, I rode my bike to his house. And no, I didn't call him first to see if it was ok to come over. I just thought if he had time to talk, he would, if he could. Anyway, Jim's 71, who fixes bicycles as a hobby in his retirement. He's helped fix my bicycles many, many times. And through the course of our "business", we've talked a bit. And let me tell you, he thinks that what I've done the last couple of years has been amazing. And all he knew was that I helped my parents at the grocery store, as they got older. But today, I shared with him the "invisible" jail cell that I've been in.
Its interesting, we've known each other for about 2 years. And I would never think of sharing such information previously. But ever since I went to Brown University for an Education Forum last March, in which I spoke about my life and on the Dream Act, I've been open and honest with such things. I mean, how many times do you have to lie to people about why you don't have a better job, why you don't study abroad, and why you don't pursue higher degrees? Esp when you have a college degree! And when its from 6 years ago and all you've done is work at a grocery store!@
So what was his reaction? He understood my prison sentence and why I was doing the same thing - working at the grocery store - year after year. Also, he advised me that you should be careful of who you say this to, which I know. But at the same time, it's liberating to open up about your status and know (or think you know?) of people that you can say this to, without the fear of deportation. But he's a guy that would lose my business, if I was deported, so I don't worry about such a thing, lol!
And ever since Brown, I've done a lot of things these past 5 months - 3 Video projects, including one that came out today for NYSYLC, WNYC radio (The Leonard Lopate Show), picture in the Korean and Spanish newspaper on the Dream Act, Ykasec interview, and my name being mentioned in an Educational (Mary Ann Zehr's) blog and in the College Board's "Young Lives on Hold" Dream Act paper. And to think, at one time, I thought I had my one (and only) shot to advocate for the Dream Act, which was at Brown. (Which was amazing, just by itself. And I think if you go out and have one chance, then I hope they remember you for hitting a home run in your at-bat. ;) But I was blessed to do much more than that. And I've been sooo grateful, and appreciative for the extra opportunities. Plus, being a part of this so-called student movement has lead me to be fearless and tireless. I mean, I was always underground researching, but now I can speak out openly without hesitation. And being outspoken has lead me to be more aware of the "responsibility" of being a Dreamer. (For there are an estimated 1.8 to 2.5 Million Dreamers currently in the US. and that number is growing every year!) And when you're out there, speaking about it, you hope that they - Dream students and supporters - are watching you and rooting for you. And that they will join you in the fight for the Dream Act. But, on the other hand, obviously due to the hot-button and divisive issue of immigration, there are those (who oppose the Dream Act) and wish to see you go. But my thinking is, if they (ICE, the gov't) want to catch me, they know where I am. And if I ever go, I can be always be proud of my education and involvement for the Dream Act.
So until then or when the Dream Act passes, I'm going to be everywhere and anywhere that could/would/should help pass the Dream Act - at Immigration Rallies, Education Forums, Video Projects, and at Ykasec and at the NYSYLC. Not to mention, even blogging about :-) I'd like to think, I can and should live up to my favorite article/blog quote, "For this, I'd do anything," in reference to getting the DREAM Act passed.
And this has been my favorite chant while fighting for our "Dreams" -
Leader/MC: What do we want?
Chorus: Dream Act!
Leader/MC: When do we want it?
See everybody at the signing, next year :-)