Published Apr. 2, 2014
By Tri-City Herald Editorial
From time to time, a story reminds us that being an American is like winning the lottery. Life is good here.
pair of Columbia Basin College students are inspiring not only because
they help prevent us from taking our good fortune for granted but also
by showing us what Americans can achieve through hard work.
al-Sharkarji, a 19-year-old immigrant from Syria, and Schwe Zin, an
18-year-old Southridge High School senior in the Running Start program,
were recently selected as CBC's All-USA Academic All Stars for the
2013-14 school year.
Schwe, whose family fled political oppression
in Burma, wants to become a pediatrician. Amjad wants to become an
electrical engineer. Those who are familiar with the teens are confident
they will reach their goals.
"The sky's the limit," said Terry
Marie Fleischman, adviser to the Phi Theta Kappa honor society's CBC
chapter and an adjunct faculty member.
But if their families hadn't reached America, the future surely wouldn't look as bright.
family came to the U.S. in 2005 from Thailand, where they had been
living in a refugee camp. They fled their homeland of Burma because
Schwe's father was involved in a student anti-government group.
"It's crazy to think I'm going to be a doctor," Schwe said. "I grew up in a hut. I played in the dirt."
father, an Iraqi, fled his home country for Syria in the late '80s and
started his family there. The Syrian government wouldn't recognize his
dad's engineering degree or grant him or his children citizenship. That
prompted the family to seek political asylum in the U.S. in 2000.
hard to imagine what life in Syria might be like for Amjad if his
family hadn't managed to escape. Syria's civil war has turned the
country into a hellscape in the last few years. The United Nations
estimates that more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions
displaced by the conflict.
We're a nation of immigrants who came
to the United States in search of a better life, and so many of our
ancestors found it. We're grateful to live in a country where that story
can still be written.
Schwe's take on the land of opportunity
strikes us as a quintessentially American point of view. "If there's
something you want, there's a way to get it," she said.
way our forefathers succeeded in a new land was by pulling together.
We're happy to see that spirit thriving in Pasco, where volunteers are
ready to help build the city's first public community garden.
community groups have volunteered to help build the project in east
Pasco's Kurtzman Park. Vendors have offered to provide materials.
Home Improvement has pledged to make the garden one of its community
action projects, where its employees work on the site. Volunteers with
the Washington State University Extension's Benton-Franklin Master
Gardeners Program are expected to provide guidance, a $500 grant for
materials and seeds for planting.
But the real effort will come
from Pasco residents who spend their summer tending the garden. They'll
gain more than fresh, healthy foods for their tables. They'll gain a
sense of community by rubbing elbows with neighbors pursuing a common
We're thankful for opportunities to nourish body and soul.
Published with permission of the Tri-City Herald. Additional news stories can be accessed online at the Tri-City Herald.
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