Our Future is Our’s to Decide
By Veanna Pau’u – West Valley City, Utah
As a kindergarten teacher I have the opportunity of starting off my school year meeting with each student and their parents prior to the first official day of school. I give the student a short assessment on pre-kindergarten standards and then I talk with the parents about school and kindergarten expectations.
This year I had one particular meeting with a parent who did not speak English. Her daughter was bilingual but she, the mother, could only communicate in Spanish. No translator was on hand so we were forced to pick our way through our conversation with hand gestures and a mixture of English and Spanish words. There were a few laughs here and there from misinterpretations but neither of us became frustrated in our feeble attempts to understand each other.
After the parent and her child left, I couldn’t get over how impressed I was with this mother. I didn’t understand her and truth be told I didn’t understand most of her hand gestures either. However, her desire to be involved in her daughter’s education despite the language barrier made it clear that she was a mom that was going to be present in her daughter’s education.
I think of this woman and I think of my own mother, an immigrant from Tonga. What awkward conversations did she have with teachers just to ensure for me a path through education that would find me successful in the end?
I think of this woman and I hope that the education system will not fail her. Heavy on my mind are the obstacles that stand in her way; cuts in the education budget, laws that affect the quality of teachers hired to prepare our children for adulthood; standardized tests that marginalize children with specific learning needs. I think of the countless parents and providers across this nation and I know that this is their struggle.
This is our struggle.
And that’s just where education is concerned.
What other areas of our lives are we trying to communicate our needs but a barrier hinders us from being understood? We can no longer sit on the sideline and allow others to determine the destiny of our country or the future of our children. We can no longer opt out of participating in the political sphere or engaging in our civic duty to vote because when we do we allow the decisions that affect our everyday life to be made for us. We allow the future and destiny of our children to rest in the hands of others who may not have their best interest in mind.
Whether we realize it or not, whether we want it to be that way or not, so many things are dependent upon the way this country is run and who runs this country.
I look at my students, I look at our community, I think of our future, and I realize I can no longer afford to let someone else speak for me.
And neither can you.
Whether we speak the same language as those who write the laws or govern the land, whether we use hand gestures, the written word, or whether we can even speak at all, our future is ours to decide.
So be present, take part, speak up, and decide.
Veanna Pau’u was born and raised in West Valley City, Utah. She attended Hunter High then went on to study and graduate from BYU Provo. She is a kindergarten teacher at Mana Academy where she loves teaching as well as learning from her precious students. She loves spending time with her two nieces, her brothers, and parents. Veanna attributes her sense of civic duty to her concern for her community and family.
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