On Friday, President Obama hosted the first ever White House Student Film Festival, demonstrating the Administration’s commitment to bringing America’s classrooms into the 21st century with high-speed internet and cutting-edge educational technology. The President recently set a goal of providing 99% of America’s students with these technologies, through placements in schools and libraries, by the year 2018.
At the film festival, the President recognized 16 of the nearly 2,500 films submitted by K-12 students in response to the White House’s call for videos showcasing the positive role technology plays in education.
Seventeen-year old Kira Bursky’s short film was one of the 16 selected by the White House to be featured at the festival. Her video, titled “Hello From Malaysia”, chronicles how Aiman, a young immigrant from Malaysia, uses technology both to share her culture and build connections with her new classmates.
Aiman’s journey to learn English, work hard in school, and build a new American life, reminds us of the immigration stories of individuals all across the country, including the struggles many immigrants face each day.
People from all around the world are drawn to the United States by a belief in the power of opportunity. Throughout the White House, there are similar stories of staffers and their families who through hard work and sacrifice came to the United States to pursue their version of the American dream. In fact, last year, the White House chronicled these immigrant stories, in this video.
Aiman’s journey, reminded me of the story of my own childhood growing up in Chicago’s Little Village surrounded by hard-working immigrant families. Although every immigrant’s story is fiercely unique, one aspect holds true within us all: the power of an immigrant family to overcome adversity is strong.
Today, there are students, workers, entrepreneurs, faith leaders, families, and many others who want to help us write the next great chapter of the American story. Passing commonsense immigration reform will enable many to do so – it is not only good for immigrants themselves but also for our economy. In fact, according to independent experts, the bipartisan Senate bill would reduce deficits and grow the economy by more than 5% or 1.4 trillion dollars by 2023. That’s why President Obama continues to urge Congress to take action on immigration reform this year.
America’s rich tradition as a nation that welcomes immigrants is in full display in Kira Bursky’s video and we were excited to feature her and many other young filmmakers today at the White House.
Jorge Neri is Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.