NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Hannah Klupt, a sixth-grader at Albert Leonard Middle School, feels strongly about supporting immigrants in the United States known as Dreamers – those who have lived in the country since they were children. Now, she is better prepared to make her case for them following a recent weekend of workshops at Columbia Teachers College.
“It’s a big issue in this country,” she said. “And the country is a democracy. I want it to be that everyone is welcome.”
Klupt was among 92 young activists in grades 4-8 who participated in the “Raise Your Voice Writing Workshop for Young Activists” at the college in Manhattan.
She was chosen from among 250 students on the strength of an essay she wrote on the topic. During the weekend-long event, she learned to sharpen her skills in advocacy writing.
“It’s very much a powerful type of writing,” she said.
The workshops developed self-expression in several ways, including writing to clarify and communicate a stance or a perspective on an issue; practicing speaking to articulate that stance or perspective powerfully in person; and creating a workable action plan with next steps the young activist can take in his or her own community to raise awareness or work for change.
Klupt’s passion for the topic has been nurtured by the robust diversity of New Rochelle’s population.
“I know a lot of people whose parents immigrated,” she said. “It’s just cool to be around people from different places.”
Klupt befriended one of the keynote speakers, Olivia Van Ledtje, better known as LivBit, an 11-year-old literacy activist who makes short videos about books she’s read and loved, and about issues that come up in books and in life. The other main speaker was Erika Andiola, an undocumented Mexican-American who fights for the rights of people like herself to remain in this country and to fully participate in it.
In Klupt’s essay, she writes about what immigrants have in common, observing that “they want to live good lives in a safe place. They want to work and feel proud to be an American. I want to work to make sure the U.S. treats immigrants fairly. We need to make it right someday.”