Making Dreams Come True

Tim Conrad on counseling DREAM Act students

Do you remember your school days reciting poetry, your ABCs, or The Pledge of Allegiance? I’ll never forget my Box Elder High School teacher requiring us to choose and recite a poem in front of our 9th grade English class. One of my classmates picked a Langston Hughes poem, whose quirky, shocking word choices have kept me challenged ever since:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load. Or does it explode?

Six years ago, I asked my own seventh-grade class of English language learners to memorize the following section of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

This spring was high school graduation day, and some of the students from that class represent a group often called “Generation 1.5 students,” or a name I like so much more, “Dreamers.” Dreamers were brought to the U.S. between the ages of 12 and 30. Through no fault of their own, they are “undocumented,” meaning they can’t get a regular driver’s license, legal jobs, or state and federal financial assistance to continue their studies at a university or other post-secondary school. During the toughest period in their lives, they learned a new school system, became bilingual and bicultural, recited the Pledge of Allegiance with all the rest of their classmates, and began to hope for the day when their own dreams of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would no longer be deferred.

Find out more about how to counsel your own Dreamer students, especially in light of President Obama’s recent “Deferred Action” memo by accessing the following websites: U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services and the Immigration Policy Center: In the search box, type “Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process.”
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Dr. Tim Conrad is a TESOL Teacher Education professor at Weber State University and serves on the board of Intermountain TESOL: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages of Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.