My school district, Kentwood Public Schools, is the single most diverse school in Michigan. Over 70 countries are represented in our educational community. It is what makes us one of the greatest high schools in the country. I could go on and on about how our president’s decision to ban Muslims from seven different countries (along with his threat to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico) has affected my students. I see it on their faces: the worry, the stress, the insecurity. But, no one can say it better than my students themselves. Take a moment, listen to what they have to say, and then ask yourself what action you can take to calm their fears.

Kenya – I am the daughter of two Muslim immigrants. I used to be proud to say that, but now it is something I am more scared to say than proud of. The majority of my family are Muslim immigrants and came to America to get away from war and crime in their countries. It is so sad to see what is going on in the Muslim community and how harshly we are being judged. A close family friend recently went to Iraq to visit his sick mother and when he was immediately detained. He will most likely be deported and never see his kids or family. My uncle is in jail. He is only a permanent resident, not a citizen. He will be deported. Even before Trump, my mother would be scared to wear a scarf in airports, but now it is something to be scared of everywhere in America.

 Burma– I came from an immigrant family. We arrived here on August 4, 2015. All of my family are from Chin, Burma. At first, I was supporting Hillary Clinton but since she was not elected, I changed my mind. I hope Donald Trump is a good president. But I’m afraid that he might send us back to our own country.

Mexico– President Trump is stereotypical and disrespectful toward refugees. He believes they all came here for the same reason, to destroy America, but that’s not true. My dad was an immigrant, but the police discovered him and now I have no father. That was six years ago. My mom was also an immigrant but she became a legal resident, so she is not as scared as she was before. It seems that Trump will just keep making certain races look bad. The wall for Mexico just seems mean.unnamed-20

Bosnia– I am against this ban. My family is an immigrant family and even though we do not practice the Muslim religion, like a lot of other Bosnians, we are upset. They are trying to catch a terrorist group, but true Muslims would not kill anyone. Banning these 7 Muslim countries isn’t fair nor is it constitutional. These innocent people do not deserve to be treated with such hate. What makes me so mad is the fact that Trump does not care that he is being racist.

Uganda – In 2014, I moved here from Uganda. It was really hard for me because I was scared thinking about going to school. Back in Africa, the teachers used to beat students badly. My mom was happy when President Obama ruled America, but now she is complaining about Trump ruling the country because he is a mean person.

Congo– My family is an immigrant family. I first came to the U.S. in the year 2013. If I were old enough to vote, I would not have voted for Trump or Clinton. My parents will not talk about Trump with us.

Nepal – I think the president should let people come to America because they need help. For example, if Trump was an immigrant and he wanted to come here, how would he feel if we wouldn’t let him in. Also, he will not accomplish anything with not letting people in. He will only make things worse.

Guatemala– My mom immigrated from Mexico and my dad came from Guatemala. My mom came at 17 because her life was not good in Mexico. My dad came at 6 years old. His mother died because she was really sick. These immigrant families just want a better life, like my parents wanted for me. They tell me, “Princess, before you start complaining about your life remember that you have a roof, food, clothes and your parents.” The people from these 7 Muslim countries have done nothing to you, Mr. President. Maybe that’s the problem? They serve no purpose to you. You wouldn’t care what happens to these families.

Nepal – The ban on immigrants is not fair because I am an immigrant. I wasn’t born here. I was born in Nepal. People shouldn’t get consequences for the poor actions of others. Muslims are not terrorists, they are good people.

Haiti – My grandpa was born in Haiti and moved to Texas. He wanted to have a better life with my mother when she was only 11years old. My family was surprised by the president’s choice.

Mexico – My parents moved to Texas from Mexico when they were in their early twenties. I feel that Trump’s wall and his ban on immigrants is stupid, but he runs the world now, so I guess I better get used to it.unnamed-18

Bosnia – I come from an immigrant and refugee family. My family fled the Bosnian war in 1998. I am a Muslim and I am not a terrorist. My family and myself are very against what Trump has done. He is the most ignorant person I know.

Cuba– My family is Cuban and they came to America about 16 years ago. One of my parents is a citizen and one is a resident who is going for citizenship. My parents aren’t too worried, but my family down south are worried. They say that racism has gone up. They felt okay under Obama, but now that Trump is president, yup, they are done for.

Vietnam– I come from an immigrant family. My family first came to America in 2009 from Vietnam. I think the president’s latest actions are unnecessary and unfair to Muslim countries. His actions show racism toward whole countries and all who live there. My family is very unhappy right now.

Mexico – My dad’s parents were born in Mexico and I think this ban is ridiculous. Sure, there are terrorists, but they could just as easily be Christian, Catholic, Buddhist or Atheist. Just because you hear one story of a Muslim terrorist, doesn’t make all Muslims a terrorist. Trump is ignorant for this ban. Some immigrant families leave their country because of problems and because of not feeling wanted. They come to America to feel safe and start over. If Trump goes through with this, he is endangering the safety of families.

Vietnam– My family immigrated from Vietnam. We first come to America about 3 years ago. I’m not in support of his action. Not everyone is bad, and banning immigrant is not a good choice because most of the factory workers in the US are immigrants.

Nepal– I come from Nepal and I been here for 4 year and learning English and learning about America and I like here and I know there is a lot of thing going on political, but I like here and I don’t like political. I just do what I think is right.unnamed-19

Vietnam– The ban on immigrants and refugees from 7 Muslim countries is wrong and unfair. My parents come from Vietnam as immigrants. They came around the time when Vietnam was in a war. My grandpa was fighting for capitalism. After they lost, the US let us over.

Bosnia– My parents are refugees from the Bosnian War and came to the U.S. in 2000. I was born here in Michigan. I am upset at Trump as our president. His idea to divide us as a country is stupid. The U.S. was built by immigrants who came here to be free and work hard. Trump wants our freedom gone.

Vietnam– I come from a Vietnamese family. They went to America to get a better life. My family came in the 1990’s. I understand that Trump is trying to protect US citizens from terrorists, but not all immigrants are trying to harm us. Some people from Muslim countries are just here for a better life.

Germany– I come from a Muslim family and I do not agree with what is going on with the country. My parents came from Germany about 18 years ago. They came hoping for a better life for my family. And now Trump is banning countries that have nothing to do with anything toward terrorism. Some just want to come in and have a better life for themselves and their children, but now they won’t be able to. Trump is targeting a specific religion, Islam. Muslims are taught to be peaceful. We don’t attack or judge other religions. We respect them. Those terrorists aren’t true Muslims. They may call themselves that, but they aren’t. It isn’t fair to the innocent people that just want to get away from the trouble in their home countries.

Mexico– I saw on TV that he said he was banning terrorists, but what he is really doing is banning Muslims. This is not fair. He is basically saying that all Muslims are terrorists. I happen to be a really close friend who is Muslim and she is no terrorist. Even though Muslim is not a race, it’s still pretty wrong. Trump could have just done background checks on the Muslim immigrants. Out of all the countries in the world, they chose America and now Trump is rejecting them. I don’t know how this man became president, but I pray that he has a heart.

Bosnia – Knowing that I come from a family of Muslims, this hit me harder than I expected. When I heard about Trump’s race for presidency, I thought for sure he would lose. My family hates him. We have been living here 17 years. His actions are foolish and somebody should stop him.

Nepal –  The recent ban on immigrants was very cruel. People need to understand that America is the land of freedom. People come here to lead a better life, not allowing some to come in just because of their religion doesn’t sound ‘fair and equal’ to me. Many of people in America are and have been working hard to bring their family or loved ones to America. For those left behind, this action could really hurt and discourage them. This ban is unreasonable.

Bosnia– My family came to America in 1998. They came because of the terrible was in Bosnia. They came to have a better life here. Trump’s idea of banning Muslims from coming to the U.S. is crazy. There are families in Syria who are getting killed. They want to come to America for a better life, not to hurt us.unnamed-17


Many of my American-born students are also disheartened by this administration’s attempt to ban Muslims and build walls. Here is what some of them had to say:

  • Our airports have been on high security ever since 9/11. Many people tried to escape abusive countries to get away from trouble and start a new life. If a terrorist tries to bring a bomb or weapon to the airport, they will get caught. Trump says it is for our safety, but he is only making people hate America.
  • I am very confused about the president’s decision and the stand he is making. There are so many marches about him. My family and I wonder how he became president. His ideas aren’t going to do anything but put us in war. I wonder when ‘make America great again’ will come into play.
  • I am against the ban. The whole thing is essentially racist, as he is superficially banning a group of people despite lack of evidence that these people did any harm. Some of the families he is banning are struggling in their home country, and now they have nowhere to escape to. The whole proposal has left the world in some sort of shock, and it is leading to chaos. Trump is undoubtedly causing a lot of trouble not even a month into his presidency. It is all downhill from here.
  • President Trump’s latest decision has left me worried for the future of our country. The ban is ridiculous. It targets not only a certain country, but also a race and a religion. I can’t imagine how this makes people of this race and religion feel. Trump is already increasing tensions with other countries, and who knows what will come next.
  • I think this latest action by the president is inhumane and embarrassing. By doing this, he is categorizing and stereotyping all Muslims. This puts the image of Muslims as terrorists. The U.S. was built on people coming over and looking for opportunity. Also, like some Muslims, we came looking for religious freedom. His reason for the ban is to stop terrorism in America. This is ridiculous since there have been so little terrorist attacks from Muslim immigrants. This is especially true compared to the amount of American-born white people who have caused deaths in the U.S. I’ve had the chance to go out and protest with my family. There were people there of all different races, religions, ages, etc. We were all united for the same reason. We all knew that stopping what made this country what it is, just because of a person’s religion, is living in stereotyped fear.unnamed-23

I am so proud to work for Kentwood Public Schools. I am so proud of these students, many of whom came out to protest at the Gerald R. Ford Airport on Sunday. I wish that everyone could see what I see: the work ethic, the kindness, the gratitude. As one Muslim family arrived at the rally, the mother came bearing a pan that was filled with chicken, still hot from the oven. The father carried stacks of pizza boxes. They were saying thank you to their neighbors and community. The beaming smiles on the faces of protestors said it all. This was community-in-action. This was America.  unnamed-22

Kentwood Public Schools is a microcosm of the world. Students from 70 different countries congregate together in one space to study, to learn and to thrive. The greatest lessons in our building come not from the science, or math, or history classrooms. The greatest lessons come from our students, immigrants and refugees, who have so much to teach us if we would only listen.

* Students were given 5 different writing prompts to choose from for this in-class reflection. No students were forced to talk about their immigrant status or their views on politics for this writing. Other possible topics included: my goal for second semester, what I plan to do for Spring Break, and advice for my teacher.