Once more the school year has ended and thousands of young people everywhere have graduated.  They have finished their studies at high school or college level and are anxious to face the new life ahead of them.

I want to congratulate each one of them, but in particular I take my hat off to the children of undocumented immigrants.

As I see these immigrant children I feel both joy and sadness.  I feel joy because they have been able to overcome all the obstacles of a new and many times hostile system. They have had to learn a new language and culture, and in that process trade their original cultural for a new one that continues to pose new rules for them.

Children of all ages go to school everyday, but not all of them have a ‘double’ life. Maybe they all want to laugh and play, but some of them know that their life is always hanging from a thread.  The children of undocumented immigrants know about ‘polleros’ and  twisted routes, paying fees to come here, and in many instances having to hide.  

They also know about many people living in a small place and having to go without many things while their parents get a job.  

Their daily life includes knowing people getting caught driving without a license, or not being able to do certain things like complaining on the job, or somebody taking advantage of their situation.

They want to be carefree and just think about music, videos and entertainment like the local teenagers, but their reality is different and they are very much aware of it. Are the teachers aware of these daily tensions in the lives of their students?

Nevertheless I feel their joy and I am glad that what one learns cannot be taken away. I feel sad though, because many of them will not have further opportunities. Because of their condition as undocumented persons they will have no financial aid to go to college and for many of those who manage to finish college, since they have no documents, they will face the harsh reality of not being able to find a job.  

If they decide to go back to their countries of origin, they face plenty of obstacles.  They have been away for too long and their language does not meet the standards required by the universities. Even more, their high school diploma will not be valid since many of the subjects that are mandatory in other countries such as chemistry, physics and others, are not part of the required curriculum here.

Quoting a comment from Bill Gates: “Our high schools were designed fifty years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting - even ruining - the lives of millions of Americans every year.”  

Let me add: “What are we truly giving them as education?”.  Shall we answer Gates and turn them into internet learners that may satisfy the needs of the new markets? Will they ever have the opportunity to READ in everyday life and be able to make their own decisions?

I wish them well. I also hope they do not become trapped by the illusions of false ‘development’’, ‘careers’  and especially ‘success’  In fact, in terms of learning, the only thing

I would expect from them is to learn to READ, and look for the core of the issues that are presented to them.

May God give them the energy needed to look for new answers and implement them.