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Students Set Out to Bring College Dreams to Life for New Immigrants

Students at NYC's Think it Up Live Workshop
The gates to a college education should be open to everyone.

Those inspiring words sum up the mission of several seniors at Brooklyn International High School, who found themselves facing a familiar problem: a college education can be prohibitively expensive. That’s doubly true for students who themselves are recent immigrants dealing with the challenges of moving to a new country.These four students–HuiPing, HuiMin, Steven, and Nasif–decided to find their own solution. Working with their teacher, Ms. Dang, they created a project on DonorsChoose.org called “An Immigrant's Dream.” They wanted to film a series of short videos highlighting amazing immigrant stories from their school community, and build a website to find support for a new scholarship fund. Here’s how they described the project:

Although many Brooklyn International High School students have the skills and drive to succeed in college, many come from low-income homes that prevent this from happening. AID's goal is to help our immigrant students by sharing their stories to the public in hopes of raising money for their college education.

BIHS Heads Downtown to Think it Up

They brought the idea to a Think it Up workshop in downtown Manhattan, joining around 20 other student groups. At the event, they were paired with group leaders (including some DonorsChoose.org staff!) who helped hone their project plan. Some of the students even got a chance to go on stage and share their projects in a panel hosted by actor Adrian Grenier.At the end of the event, all of the groups were surprised with a DonorsChoose.org gift card to help bring their project to life. The BIHS team decided to break their project up into two pieces, to help keep the total cost low and increase the odds that both would be fully-funded. In just a few days, both projects reached their goal, and the students started work on the first part of the project: video interviews with their peers.

The stories they told

We’ll let their project and the amazing stories they captured speak for itself:

Along with the video, they created a website for the project to help connect potential donors with their new scholarship fund.

The funds will help our 12th graders, all low-income students, attend college and open doors to greater possibilities in their futures. Thanks to your support, we will be able to bring smiles to the students' families as they watch their children pursue a college education -- the ultimate Immigrant's Dream. - Ms. Dang, the project advisor

What they learned

The project’s impact on these students will stretch far beyond the money they raise. Ms. Dang saw the potential educational benefits for her project leaders, saying that it would help her students “develop their research, writing, critical thinking, and time management skills.” The students agreed, saying the project would help them experience the challenges of “working in a team, finding ways to work together even if we disagree, and managing our time well with our other responsibilities at school and at home.”Beyond the classroom, Ms. Dang believes this project will help make her students more compassionate, empathetic adults.

Through empathy, they will better able to understand the needs of the people around them and learn to treat others the way they want to be treated. Empathy will lead my students to become better citizens and leaders of their communities.

Between the empathy education and their new professional skills, we have no doubt that these students are going to change the world. We can’t wait to see what projects they come up with next!

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