Immigrant students from Oakland ask Chilean leader for advice, reassurance

Michelle Bachelet, former Chilean president, at Oakland International High. Photo by Lane Hartwell/Oakland Tribune

Michelle Bachelet held an intimate Q and A with a small group of immigrant students this morning at Oakland International High School. Bachelet, the first woman elected president of Chile, was once living far from her home country, herself; her family was imprisoned, and later exiled, during the political turmoil of the 1970s.

You can read the story here.

The students I interviewed afterward told me Bachelet’s words encouraged and inspired them. The hourlong exchange was moving for me, as well — not to mention a short respite from contract dispute coverage.

While we’re on the subject of Oakland International: Congrats to Thi Bui, an art teacher who was one of eight recipients of the national Plank Fellowship Award. Bui’s students have created a graphic novel, Immigration Stories, based on their journeys to the United States. I wrote about the project last fall.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    Any live contact or exposure the OUSD students can get to world leaders or historical figures is extremely important. It is especially useful for them to hear first hand stories of people getting education, relocating, getting into occupations and professions under non-optimal conditions.

    The last thing these kids need to do is stick to their ways, only associate with similar people, go nowhere and change nothing.

    I really do love the situation where a student who is full of “poor me” runs into people such as Supreme Court Justice Kennard and hear first hand of her life growing up in a POW Camp – or any number of Bay Area professionals who deal with debilitating health issues or handicaps and still get up every day and go to work/school/whatever.

    This sort of thing is what the schools can do for the students that the children can’t easily get from their homes and families. Open doors. Introduce people. Give lectures of life stories and overcoming adversity. It’s not so much an “inspirational” thing as just knowledge being power. The more the students see and hear how careers got made, the more likely they may be to take an opportunity when it presents itself in the future for only 5 minutes.

    The more of this the better.

  • J.R.

    I absolutely positively agree, very good post.