Living the dream

No person has the right to rain on your dreams.

Rev.Martin Luther King Jr.

His is a family of eleven people.He works full-time and takes one class per semester in pursuit of his dream of one day teaching English. His wife has her own dreams; she is studying to be a nurse. They share nine children ranging from kindergarten to college age with nine dreams of their own, no doubt. The day he and I speak on the phone, it is -13. He tells me that the weather is better in Mogadishu where he was raised, but that the people in Minnesota are nice. I smile at my end of the line when he says this. Yep. We might be freezing to death, but we are nice.

She emails me to tell me her assignment will be late because of an emergency with one of her foster children the night before. I have been at this teaching gig long enough to be able to discern which students try to set an imaginary dead grandmother before me like a cat with a mouse to get an extension and which ones don’t. The fact that she is a foster-mother tells me pretty much everything I need to know about her strength of character.

I mention in my own introduction to one class that I am an adoptive mother of children from South Korea and discover that I have two students in one class who were adopted by white parents, too. And then, there are the students from the south side of Chicago and White Earth who tell their classmates that they are the first in their families to go to college. Other first generation students reply in discussion threads, “Me, too! It’s scary. We’ve got this!”

There are the young, single mothers. The recently widowed or divorced, starting over at mid-life. There are the physically impaired and the ones who’ve survived domestic abuse. There are the young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Students of every race, color, and religion with a singular goal. For me, it never gets old, this learning of names. This bearing witness to stories and dreams. At times when I feel hopeless, their stories give me hope for us all.

Because these are Americans with the most American of stories.

Each one cradling their own American dream.




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