I recently had the privilege of meeting five outstanding high school students the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio’s Beat the Odds® program was honoring for overcoming tremendous adversity, demonstrating academic excellence and giving back to their communities. One of these inspiring young people was Sara Abou Rashed.
Sara has witnessed unimaginable violence. At age 13, Sara experienced shock and horror as a bomb exploded near her school in Syria, shattering classroom windows and throwing the entire school into chaos. Despite daily dangers, she pushed through her fears and continued to attend school long after many other students had given up. As the war in Syria crept closer to her family, Sara was left no choice but to leave her home. She moved to Columbus, Ohio with her mother and grandmother. Sara knew almost no English but worked long hours and sought help from her teachers to learn the language of her new home.
While making America home, Sara learned that her father had lost his life shortly after trying to escape the violence in Syria by fleeing to Egypt. But she did not give up. By the end of her freshman year, she was on the honor roll in her Columbus school and had a firm grasp of the English language. In fact, Sara joined the poetry team and blossomed into an accomplished poet. She hopes to become a politician and inspire others to work with her to better our world.
At a moment when Americans are struggling again with who we are, who we want to be and how we teach and reinforce core values like inclusivity, civility, nonviolence and tolerance, please listen to the powerful voice of this brave young poet saying, in her own words, I, too, sing America.
|“Welcome to America” by Sara Abou Rashed
Bring us your oppressed, your exhausted bodies,
“I’d like to welcome you to the one and only,
Though, the scarred walls there memorize
Please, don’t stop me on streets to ask what Jihad is,
I am a woman of faith,
And no, I don’t celebrate the death of children,
Trust me, I know what loss smells like:
I know what loss smells like from a mile far, the way friends
Still, some fear me, they call me names, they try to break
Lord, make us whole again, all of us, make us human again,
May it be so!
Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to staging.childrensdefense.org.
Mrs. Edelman’s Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post.