One of the final assignments for one of the classes I am taking is to research an assigned sect of refugee peoples in terms of why they leave their native countries, what type of education they receive while living in deplorable conditions, and what we can do, as teachers, to help students in refugee situations succeed.

As I am doing my research on the Burundi people, who flee their country for ethnic conflicts between the Tutsis and the Hutu peoples, causing war and destruction, I feel grateful for living in a country where I do not have to worry about such issues.

I am lucky to have grown up in a two parent household, with a roof over my head and food on the table every night. I am grateful to have received a high school, college, and now graduate school education.

However, I know this is not the reality of many other families and their children, even within the United States. As a novice teacher I have already encountered students with alcoholic, abusive, and absent parents; students who are homeless; and students who grew up in similar homes like mine, sitting right next to the aforementioned types of students with no idea what their classmates are experiencing. It is of the utmost importance to teach tolerance and show students how others may be living and what we can do to help them.

Everyday our soldiers are fighting to keep us safe as we sleep in our beds at night and I appreciate this with every ounce of my being. We as teachers need to act as academic soldiers and fight for our students and help them to succeed. Just as a soldier may think he knows what situation he will be getting into when he steps out of camp, or jumps out of a plane, he never could have fathomed the situation in reality.

The same goes for teachers. Every student, especially students who come from these refugee camps where who knows what awful things they have seen with their innocent eyes, needs to be individually attended to in terms of a specific academic plan helping the student to balance school and home life during trying times.

I would like to thank all soldiers, past and present, for their service to this country. You all make the United States a safe place for its citizens as well as for those, like the Burundi people, who come from unstable countries as refugees.