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Last night was a big night for my son’s middle school: it was the annual Curriculum night and Auction night.

The Curriculum night started in the late afternoon.  There are different activities and exhibits in every classroom for the parents to explore what the children have learned in school. I visited all of the classrooms. I was most impressed by the social studies, which related to American politics and human rights movement.

There were posters made by students to promote workers' rights in China; documentaries and photos about human rights movements in US history.

At last I went into a classroom that my six-grade son Kuang and his classmates were responsible for. One student near the door asked me whether I wanted to register to vote. I said yes. Then another student let me to choose a piece of note that would be my identity, it says, “An African America, 24 years old, male.” Then I walked into the classroom, in front of the registration desk, I was asked to answer a sheet of questions about American politics. There were 15 questions and they were hard. I would not have known any of them before. But during the 2012 presidential election, my friends and I wrote about the election and the American political system on a Chinese political forum. Through that time I learned a lot of knowledge about American politics. I could answer questions such as—Appropriation of money for the armed services can be only for a period limited to _ years (the answer is 2). But I was wrong on this problem: for security, each state has a right to form a _. My answer was police force. But the correct answer was militia.

Kuang was the one who checked the parents’ answer sheet. I got 11 correct. I was happy. But he said to me seriously and regretfully,  “OH! Too bad, because you are a sharecropper… Your landlord forbids you from going to vote in the election! Okay, let us get something straight: this is a simulation. This is what an African American would have gone through if he or she had tried to register to vote!” What a sad moment! Then I learned that this was called “Register to vote in the Jim Crow South” where the white set up obstacles such as this kind of Literacy Test to prevent the black from voting. Today the African American has fought their human rights back. This can be an inspiring story that I can introduce to my Chinese people who are still struggling for our own rights to vote. My friends and I have already written about Human rights history around the world, stories of Dr. Martin Luther King and John Brown etc. on the Chinese political forum.

Then came the exciting Auction time. The whole school was in the Cafeteria now. There were all kinds of foods made by the parents. And all kinds of donated items for the silent auction from parents listed on the tables.  When I walked along the auction tables, I noticed one: Meet New York’s newly elected Senator Brad Hoylman (D). It was valued at $100 and started at $35.  What a nice chance for Kuang to learn more about American Politic system and talk with a real politician.  It is also so unimaginable for a politician to donate his time to a middle school student in China. In the US, people elect the politicians; but in China, politicians think they are high above the people.

I told Kuang about this and he agreed to bid for it too. So I wrote down our number immediately.  One hour later, we got this item. No one competed with us. I was very happy!

Kuang also won a teacher’s raffle to learn photography with one of his teachers: Ms. Tacey, who was also his advisor. He was very lucky on this night!

I feel happy for him.  Although we are not American Citizens, we love democracy and freedom; so I worked hard through many difficulties, left China, came to the US to study and brought Kuang (he was 7 at the time)with me. I admire the political system here and hope what I learn in the US will help me to push democratic transition and build a better political system in China.

One day, when Kuang grows up, he may choose to become an American citizen, or he may go back to China, or he maybe an excellent world citizen. I believe wherever he will be, the US and China are both his homelands; and this young humanist will devote to both of them and to the welfare of mankind.  

One day, when he grows up, no matter what he is going to be, good government is the basic protection for him and for everyone ‘s freedom.

Those are the reasons I want him to learn about politics, to learn from the inspiring politicians, and other people who are contributing to the society.

What will Kuang talk about with Senator Hoylman? Lowering the price on public transportation; making it easier for immigrants to become a citizen—these are the most important questions Kuang wanted to ask him. Perhaps, democracy in the US, in China, and around the world? Civil Rights in the US? The Dream Act? How to prepare for your future and your contribution to the community? We will write to Senator Hoylman to set up this meeting. We look forward to this.

Originally posted to ShiningPhoenix on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 05:11 PM PST.

Also republished by Way of Dragon, Barriers and Bridges, and Community Spotlight.

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