Friday, April 03, 2009


Well I had originally intended to sit down to write merrily about my Monday morning this week. A youth group from Montecito, CA came down to SD to learn about and discuss Refugees and immigration in general within the context of Mercy, Justice and Compassion. I was going to go in detail about how I prepared for the talk, the verses I used, or discussion and how much fun I had.

Instead I write about a tragic event that has taken place today. When I first saw about it on I wondered where such a horrible event was taking place. Then my heart hurt as I read NY. Today in Binghamton, NY a gunman walked into a non-profit agency that resettles refugees and offers immigration services and took 40 people hostage. This was the least upsetting of the events that later followed. The agency was having a citizenship class for those preparing to become citizens and take a test to prove their worth and want to become an American Citizen. The gunman walked into this class of innocents and opened fire. After killing 13 people the man then turned his weapon on himself.

This is upsetting for many reasons and on many levels. Personal levels...I work with refugees and immigrants, they are our clients and my colleagues. I also teach a citizenship class for those who want to and are in the process of becoming citizens. I have spent a night a week dedicating my time and little ability to spend a few hours teaching a small group of eager individuals about American history, US civics, government and general basic ESL. To think that a group of individuals not unlike my students were attacked today is heartbreaking and incredibly scary.

I wish I could adequately describe and convey what my students are like. They are refugees (mostly) for one. That means the world recognized and labeled them as persecuted and unable to return to their homes. The world recognized that and agreed these people were in danger. It takes a lot for the world to agree on anything so this is a big thing. They then traveled thousands of miles to go to a country they did not know, where they did not speak the language, to live simply and often in poverty, to start from the bottom and so that they would not be in danger any longer. They came with hope and little else. They stayed, learning and contributing. After getting a Green Card, after paying hundreds of dollars they decided to become citizens.

Then a guy in NY decides to shoot them. Why would anyone do that.....?! And think this is the 'safe' place to be.

My thoughts and prayers are with those in Binghamton, NY.


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