My dream, Scholars’ dreams, and refugees’ dreams

So, if you’re connected with world news at all in the past week, it’s been a tumultuous week to say the least. Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, and Japan all made world headlines within a few days’ time. But, sadly, another recent news headline started a long time ago (and has progressed): Syria’s refugee crisis.

I’m not writing this blog to take a political stance — but I’m actually reframing this situation for you with a different perspective. For our Scholars, they are blessed to not currently be living in a war-torn country. Their country has not been attacked by terrorists. They are not traveling thousands of miles to a potential new home – hoping that someone will care for them along the dangerous journey.

The sad reality is, though, our Scholars do face very real challenges. They face extreme poverty, lack of food, lack of clean water, violence in their community, gang and drug pressure, and more. The difference I am grateful for is the opportunity for our Scholars to receive an education.

Here is our “Goals” or “Dreams” wall. Each Scholar put his/her dream on the wall, next to a photo of him/her in school uniform. We believe this motivates them to keep focused on their dreams!

We also like to celebrate students’ academic achievements and efforts. Here, Maria Belen congratulates Luiggi, one of our Scholars that we recognized last month!

Pamela, one of our work-study volunteers (who will be starting as an educator for us soon!) dreams of becoming a flight attendant. At her Starfish graduation celebration earlier this year, the Starfish educators and Scholars made her a card that reads, “Congratulations, future Flight Attendant!”

So far, Starfish has had 8 graduates (2 in 2014 and 6 in 2015, four of whom are pictured here). 6 more students are expected to graduate this coming year, in March!

I write all of this to share with you how grateful I am that our Scholars and tutor-only (mentee) students live in a country where there is peace. The challenges for many of these families are large, but the opportunity that these students receive is incredible, and I’m proud we can welcome them to receive their education. 
Throughout my time in Baltimore, I’ve also met many refugees – people whom the U.S. has welcomed into a land of peace, opportunity and education. I am grateful for these refugees, for all they have taught and brought us, and for the kind compassion they have been shown in times of hardship. 
Most importantly, I pray for the people who are not experiencing peace right now, that they find peace and compassion soon in their journey. 
So, tell me – what are your dreams? Share them here, or email me at beth@thestarfishchange.org. I’d love to hear your dreams!
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