Cleaning up my piles of paperwork I came across the certificate above. It will not help me get a job now days, but this piece of paper means a great deal to me. I have kept it all these years as a reminder of an amazing opportunity that actually changed me. I was 21 years old when I was invited to a training program for "Building Inclusive Communities." The National Conference of Community and Justice NCCJ knew very little about me. They knew I intended to become a dual language teacher, and that I was an international student from South America. It was just enough information to know that I will potentially carry on the fire they were trying to ignite in all the young people who were part of the training. NCCJ gave me knowledge, tools, and an unforgettable experience. Through activities, exercise, and games I was able to get in someone else's shoes. I became African American, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Mexican, Caucasian, etc. We played with language, and realized how so much can be lost in translation. We played with eye colors, and realized how we are more than the color of our skin. We talked about faith, and realized how much we actually do have in common. We learn from each other because we learned about each other. We spiritually grew a great deal, and left feeling loved and welcome.
Coming to this country has given me the opportunity to meet people from many places, races, and faiths. It has made it possible for me to have a bi-racial husband, and two multiracial children.
I hope more organizations like NCCJ start helping us be more inclusive and respectful.
We surely need a lot more empathy (feel the pain of others), and compassion (putting into action our love for others) to make this country what it can be for all.