Today was a wild day! Our rooms were buzzing with the election. Yes, it is good but there is also the confusion and misunderstanding of students who know some but not enough of this process of elections. Students whose families don’t discuss the workings of the government at the dinner table find this process a bit overwhelming. ( To be honest those of us who think we understand it all feel a bit overwhelmed as well.)
The questions have been flying around the room for weeks –
- why are there no women presidents?
- what do the presidents do for me?
- why should I vote?
- is there a bed in the white house?
- why does Obama have to run again?
- what happens if the president gets shot?
- will that white guy Romney make us slaves again?
- are you voting for Romney because your white?
After lots of talks, reading and research we reach the big day! Our school is a voting location and students are a part of the Kids Vote. Each child got a ballot, and then went down to the polling station in the gym to place their vote in the ballot box.
We slowly went through the ballot together recording our “secret” votes. We read over the amendments and each students carefully marked their choices. We were ready to go put our votes in the box. We were in line and ready to go. There was excitement and a few students that are the typical 5th grader – “this is no big deal – let’s just get this done. But there stood one student still at her desk.
She comes up slowly and hands me her ballot and says quietly ” I can’t vote! I am not a US citizen. I am Hmong.” I look at her and see she feels sad, frighten and unsure all at the same time. We talk about it and I let her know that this is just our city vote for students. Yes, she is right that she will need to become US citizens to vote in the election when she is older but today she can vote with us. The smile was to die for! My little Hmong friend happily joined our line to go vote.
And my typical jaded 5th grader watched as this non US citizen voted with great pride and excitement. Interesting how all of my students felt just a bit differently when they saw the election process from another point of view.