All Immigrants Deserve to Not Just Arrive, but Also to Thrive

Students at Frederick Douglass Elementary School in Leesburg line up for breakfast. (Photo credit: Danielle Nadler/Loudoun Now)

By Guest Contributor: Quyen Dinh, MPP (Executive Director of Southeast Asia Resource Action Center)

I grew up poor but never knew just how I poor was until I hit middle school.

In elementary school, my day started with getting breakfast from the cafeteria window, where I got to choose a cereal box along with a small carton of milk from our cafeteria lady, Angie.  She had short curly silver hair and always happily provided us our breakfast, along with a great smile.

For lunch, I lined up with the rest of my classmates to get lunch from Angie, too. Each of us carried a small envelope with our names on it.

I didn’t realize, though, that my envelope was different from the other students.  While other students had money in their envelopes with cash to pay for the weekly price of school lunch, mine was empty. Instead, my envelope had my name on it along with five checked boxes for every day of the week – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday –that I was able to receive free lunch.

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