This month’s Thought Leader article is by Helena. Helena came to the US with her family as a refugee in 2013. She is a New American Pathways Summer Intern, DeKalb County high school student, and Bright Futures afterschool program alumna. As students across the country prepare for a new school year, Helena reflects on the importance of education and what having the opportunity to go to school in the United States means to her.
The importance of education has been taught to me from a young age. In the place I’m from, known as Myanmar (Burma), education was not free. My parents risked their lives, leaving their homeland for my siblings and I to have better opportunities in life, including free and quality education. I look up to my mom dearly for the sacrifices she has made. She is a very smart and intelligent woman, receiving many awards back in Burma, but she wasn’t able to continue school past elementary due to lack of resources. My parents have been the ones motivating and inspiring me to finish my education since they couldn’t have the privilege that I have now. Through their actions and encouragement, I have learned the importance of education and the value of perseverance.
After arriving in the US, my sister and I had the opportunity to join RFS, now called New American Pathways. Through the afterschool program, I was able to experience communicating in a new language, making friends, visiting places in Georgia, and connecting with teachers. New American Pathways has helped me become who I am today and has provided me more opportunities to learn during my school years, which I am really grateful for. In the future, my goal is to get a masters degree in Business Administration. Without the opportunities I have now and supportive teachers, this would not be possible.
I believe education is something that many people around the world with the chance to go to school take for granted. What I wish more people realized is that many people from other parts of the world want to have the opportunity to receive a good education. Many people from third world countries or places where it is just hard to get a free education come to countries like the US to help reach their dreams.
In my experience, many people in the US that don’t have the chance to get an education are always looked down upon due to not being able to speak, read, or write English. However, having the resources and support to be able to communicate with their community can often improve their lives and get to know their community members better. Removing barriers will also allow people to help others and solve problems together when they can.
Another reason why education is so important is that it gives people a chance to live a better life. With education, you can get a better job which can help accomplish your goals and have the chance to help others because you will have more resources available to you. I think education is important because it allows you to have more freedoms and more doors open for you.
I believe there are many reasons why education is important and I feel grateful for the opportunity to continue reaching my goals as a student. I will continue to be inspired by my family and motivated to succeed in school.