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5 immigrants share what their first Thanksgiving as U.S. citizens means to them.

As Thanksgiving approaches, the future remains uncertain for all Americans — especially new American citizens.

If you were born in America, your first Thanksgiving was probably spent as a bewildered baby, being spoon-fed mashed potatoes by giant people whom you would later come to recognize as your family members. As an adult, the only thing that's really different is who's holding the spoon.

Plus whatever this is. Photo by Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images.


For many immigrants who've recently become U.S. citizens, however, this Thanksgiving won't be like any other. It's supposed to be a holiday where you reflect on what you're thankful for, but after a divisive election filled with anti-immigrant rhetoric, finding things to be thankful for can be challenging.

I spoke to five new American citizens about what's on their minds this Thanksgiving and what they're thankful for. Their answers are inspiring, difficult, and incredibly important to hear. For the most part, though, they're doing what the rest of us will be doing on Thanksgiving — just with more anxiety.

Santiago Svidler, an Argentinian immigrant who became a citizen in 2014, is openly frustrated about the state of the country but is looking forward to being with his family on Thanksgiving.

A politically conscious journalism major at California State University, Northridge, Svidler knows that the election and all of its implications will surely be a topic of conversation around the dinner table.

"It’s been on everyone’s mind," Svidler says. "I’m a gay, Jewish, Latino man. My brother is a gay, Jewish, Latino man also. Even though we're American citizens, it still concerns us. ... Our rights as immigrants, our family's rights, LGBT rights ... this affects all of us."

With a family so diverse, you bet their Thanksgiving table reflects that. Aside from the typical turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, "we also accommodate all of our family members’ dietary needs. So there’s vegan for those who are vegan; there’s vegetarian options [too]," Svidler says.

Photo courtesy of Santiago Svidler.

As for where he finds hope and things to be grateful for in the wake of the election, Svidler admitted it's hard. "This is like a grieving stage," he says. But regardless of what the president-elect tries to do, "we're going to stand up and fight for our rights. Because this is an America that is for everyone, not just those at the top who are white, male, heterosexual."

He recently attended a protest in Los Angeles that reminded him of how much he appreciates the ability to speak his mind. "Everyone had different signs that they made affiliated with what their cause is," Svidler explains. "It went from abortion rights to immigration to student debt. It was a huge variety, and it was great to see this because it feels as if we’re being heard."

Luisana DeGolyer has lived in America for decades after moving here with her family from Venezuela in the '80s, but this will be her first Thanksgiving as a U.S. citizen.

"When my dad came here, he didn’t speak English. He didn’t have any money," DeGolyer explains over the phone. Her parents worked really hard to land on their feet in America. After moving from job to job, her father started his own business, which DeGolyer says is now worth millions of dollars and employs many family members, herself included.

Photo courtesy of Luisana DeGolyer.

"I live and breathe the family business, so I put a lot of things on the back burner," she says of her decision not to pursue her citizenship until recently. "You put things off because you feel safe. You think 'I was raised here, I’m not going to go anywhere.'" She says her sister is currently pursuing her own U.S. citizenship.

With the uncertainty of the election looming and not knowing who was going to be the next president, "I thought, 'I better do it,' and I’m glad I did," DeGolyer says.

Like DeGolyer, a lot of other immigrants decided 2016 was a good year to make their U.S. citizenships official.

There's been a surge in people applying for citizenship in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, according to the Los Angeles Times. Anti-immigrant rhetoric coming out of the election and deep uncertainty about their future has pushed hundreds of thousands of immigrants to go through the process of becoming citizens.

A naturalization ceremony in Washington, D.C. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

After living in America for 20 years, Nicola Ward, an immigrant from Scotland, is looking forward to celebrating her first "official" Thanksgiving.

The biggest factor that motivated her to pursue her U.S. citizenship was her daughter.

When you're not a citizen during an election year, Ward says, you look at what could potentially happen to you based on the candidates. Given Donald Trump's anti-immigrant platform, her decision to become a citizen was mostly about "peace of mind" for herself and her daughter.

Nicola Ward and her daughter. Photo courtesy of Nicola Ward.

"If something were to happen, I would potentially go back to Scotland and she would be here with her dad," Ward explains. "That’s always a huge fear that’s in the back of anybody's mind who’s not a U.S. citizen: What happens to my child?"

Ward's newfound peace of mind means she can spend a nice relaxing Thanksgiving with her (very excited) daughter. "She's all about the holidays," Ward says.

While she's thankful for her new citizenship status, Ward says she's most thankful for the opportunity it gave her to cast a vote in the election. "One of my biggest milestones was to say that I actually voted. And even though people say that their vote doesn't count, it did to me," Ward says.

For Alyona Koneva, who finally got her citizenship after moving to the U.S. from Russia 11 years ago, Thanksgiving dinner will be a quiet date with her husband, combining traditions from both of their cultures.

Koneva is in grad school getting her master's in clinical psychology and works as a therapist in a hospital where she talks to a lot of immigrants from low-income communities. Being away from her family has been tough, but at least she has her husband close by.

"He’s Hispanic," Koneva says. "They also have all kinds of different twists on Thanksgiving. So we’ll probably do tamales, we’ll do ham, and we'll do borscht."

Photo courtesy of Alyona Koneva.

"I’m happy that now being an American citizen, I have these rights that I didn’t have" in Russia, Koneva says.

The election is weighing heavily on Koneva's mind, especially when she thinks of her patients. "My heart hurts for my patients and also my fellow coworkers and peers because I feel like [the election is] really going to affect the mental health field." She says there's already a huge need for resources there.

"Just seeing how distraught my patients are and how scared they are, it's pretty heartbreaking," Kovena says, though she's trying to keep an open mind that everything will work out. "I love being able to help people, especially those in need."

Ronni Prakoth, whose mother immigrated from Suriname and whose father immigrated from India, is going all-out for Thanksgiving at her sister's house.

"I think [my sister] wants me to make green bean casserole, but nobody ever eats it!" Prakoth says.

Photo courtesy of Ronni Prakoth.

Despite cultural adjustments like growing up on pizza seasoned with Indian spices, Prakoth says she loves the United States and has a deep appreciation for the immigrant experience.

"I love living in America," Prakoth says. "I know in my heart that this is the only country that I could live in. This is the culture that I’ve become accustomed to. Even at times when we take it for granted, this is my home."

Whatever thoughts you have about Thanksgiving — that it's the best holiday ever or that it's an awkward, gluttonous ode to genocidal colonialism — we can all take some time to remember our blessings.

Despite the fear and uncertainty weighing on their minds, every single one of these new American citizens easily listed things they were thankful for.

For DeGolyer, it's her children, her health, and her husband's release from prison. For Ward, it's her family and the opportunity to vote in an American election for the first time. Koneva is thankful that whatever the political situation is here, it's not as bad as it is in her native Russia. And Svidler is thankful for his recently born niece.

Finding things to be thankful for when you're scared and facing four years of an unstable, unpredictable presidential administration is no small feat. But just because there are things to be thankful for in a tumultuous present doesn't mean that we should stop working to make our country a better, safer place for everyone to live in regardless of what they look like or what kind of paperwork they have.

So what does it feel like to be a new American citizen at Thanksgiving this year? There isn't one answer. It feels nerve-wracking, frustrating, and confusing. They're looking for answers, solutions, and peace of mind. They're grateful to be with their families and for the ability to exercise their rights. They're feeling cautiously optimistic and hopeful, and they're proud of their country.

On Thanksgiving, they'll do what we all do: They'll keep moving forward, and they'll keep eating turkey.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

popular

Men are asked what secrets they keep from their spouses, and the answers are surprising

A rare glimpse of what actually gets bottled up inside.

two men smiling near trees

Men sometimes get labeled as the gender more likely to keep secrets for selfish, manipulative purposes. But just as often, men might keep certain things to themselves due to the effects of gender norms: wanting to hide insecurities to appear strong for their families, hoping to shield their partners from hurt, not feeling safe to show emotion, and so on.

Reddit user Teen_dream91 recently asked: “What, if anything, are you unable or unwilling to share fully openly and honestly about yourself with your spouse?” and the answers are a prime example of this.

These long kept secrets—some hilarious, others heartbreaking—a rare candid glimpse into exactly what many men feel compelled to keep bottled up inside.

Check them out below:


“I keep the ceiling fan on at night because she farts in her sleep and it's so bad it wakes me up.” JackassWhisperer

"When I go grocery shopping, i often buy a fresh rotisserie chicken thigh for myself, and wolf it down on a parkbench on my way home like a homeless caveman. I have no idea why, but it's my little me-time ritual." -Sternsson

"My self-doubt is something I conceal. I strive to be her rock and revealing my vulnerabilities seems counterproductive." -AdhesivenessGlass978

"When she asks to go out with her girlfriends or away on an overnight with some friends, she thinks I’m upset I’m not included. In reality, I’m praising the lord for a day or two alone."Bobo_Baggins03x

men's health

A man sitting on the couch, alone.

Photo credit: Canva

"While I love my spouse deeply, I struggle to fully share my childhood traumas. The memories are painful and sometimes I feel like shielding her from that darkness."Slight_Policy3133

"My child (18 months) is legitimately well behaved, compliant, and enjoyable to be around when she’s not in the home and it’s just he and I. When she’s around he’s combative, whiney, rude, and a little terror."D00deitstyler


"Deep down, I really just want to be lazy.I don’t want to go to work, or cook that much, or change the bedding every week, or find part time income streams… Like, in my heart, I just want to lounge about, get a bit drunk and read books or watch youtube videos. I do as much as possible so that she’s comfortable and happy but don’t want to admit that I don’t really WANT to do anything useful."
-LeutzschAKS

"The sheer amount of stress I'm under. I do share, but I can't articulate how bad it is." -Herald_of_dooom

“Sometimes the things she says to me in arguments break my heart.” -justVinnyZee

men's psychology

A woman looking at a man with his eyes closed.

Photo credit: Canva

"I served in Iraq and lost my leg. As a result I have severe PTSD…A couple of years after I got out I met my wife. She is an Iraqi Lady and has helped me through the best and worst times. She's given me beautiful children and a reason to carry on. However…her parents moved from Iraq before she was born. Every time I go to her parents house or there is a wedding on her side of the family I attend whilst suffering in silence. Sweaty palms, heart palpitations, shredding feeling where my leg was etc. It drove me to be extremely disrespectful by secretly carrying a hip flask with spirits and cocaine in as it just took the edge off and made it all manageable. Her parents are extremely religious and alcohol and drugs of any kind are heavily frowned upon and banned from the house.The worst is going to her parents house as so much of the decorations reminds me of the house I got dragged into after stepping on an IED. I keep this hidden because what can I do? Make her choose between family and me? Absolutely not. Prevent my kids from having grandparents and extended family? Absolutely not. My mental health and my foolish decisions at 16 are not going to be any form of potential wedge." -Greenlid_42

"That I sometimes buy $20 scratchers when I do the shopping and occasionally throw $60 at large Powerball/MegaMillions jackpots even tho I publicly say 'lotteries are a tax on people who are bad at math.' I do this because I like to dream of a day we don’t have to work and we can follow our passions." -wembley

"The fact that she wont let me put any of my hobby stuff (mostly miniatures and random knickknacks) in our shared spaces without it being in an approved location, meanwhile the entire house is her canvas for her aesthetic. Makes me feel really lonely and small sometimes and like she doesn't care. It's been a topic of conversation, she just doesn't get that delegating me a tiny shelf in her curio isn't the same as letting me actually decorate some." -Kimblethedwarf

“That she is bad at taking criticism, even about the most minor of things. And even saying so is itself a form of criticism she cannot handle. And this has very much hindered our ability to talk to each other.”Aechzen

men's health

A black-and-white photo of a mane and woman looking in opposite directions.

Photo credit: Canva

"I keep my regrets from her. I worry she’ll think less of me if she knew all my past mistakes."Suspicious-Factor362

“Literally anything that isn't within the realm of her personal interests. Otherwise, she makes it clear that she's not really interested in what interests me. Sometimes I do, because I can't keep everything to myself forever, but it just feels like I'm a child bothering their parents talking about how cool their toys are.” ChefBillyGoat

“I’m scared of not being able to provide a half decent life for her and my kids. Life’s getting so expensive and challenging.”Arent_they_all

men's psychology

A man in a suit with his head in his hands

Photo credit: Canva

"Sometimes, the food she cooks isn't great. I will never tell her this because she goes out of her way to cook, and I'm not ungrateful. I can live with bad food that night over her getting upset." -CaptainAwesome0912

"That if I speak to her the same way she speaks to me she would probably spend her whole day in tears. It’s definitely a case of “familiarity breeds contempt” as she does not speak to any of her friends like this (who come over to help with furniture moving, for example), and occasionally it comes out with her family, but the unfettered torrent of complaints and abuse is reserved only for me, regardless of what I do. It’s like she looks for imperfections and mistakes just to point them out." -MusicusTitanicus

“How sad I am that my life isn't a grand adventure but a series of choices i made in order to be able to form and provide for a family…I know there's adventure and excitement to be had still, but I wanted to continue my family line. And dearly love my family. Anything available in that vein will come at cost to my wife and children. So I'm stuck playing rise through the ranks, build the better mouse trap and look good to the suites for another raise or step up the ladder. It's going well, but as it goes well it feels more hollow. I could become head honcho, or start my own enterprise and find massive success, it'd still all been to just provide. Collecting wealth is such a boring pursuit, I hate our society.”BodyRevolutionary167

men's health

A man with a beard looking out a window.

Photo credit: Canva

"I let the kids play Roblox beyond their allowed time." -chelhydra

"She's always in the way. If she's in the kitchen when I'm cooking, she's always standing in front of the next place I need to be. If I'm working outside, she's always in the next place I'm going to go. If I'm fixing something, she's always standing right in front of whatever I'm going to be working on next. If I'm trying to leave a room, she's always in the doorway. I realize she wants to spend time with me, but I really wish she'd just get out of the way when I'm doing something." -Lonecoon

"That when I’m not with her, I put ketchup on my hot dogs." -bipolarcyclops

men's psychology

Someone putting ketchup on a hot dog.

Photo credit: Canva

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

A woman painting and Scott Galloway.

“Follow your passion” is a cliche you will hear in almost every graduation commencement speech. But we all accept it as a golden rule for life because we hear it so often and it feels right.

We tell ourselves that if we are passionate about something, we will be good at it and it will sustain us throughout our lives. However, Scott Galloway, a self-made millionaire and marketing professor at New York University Stern School of Business, thinks that telling people to follow their passions is bad advice.

In 2005, Galloway founded the digital intelligence firm L2 Inc., a venture that would go on to be acquired by Gartner for a staggering $155 million in March 2017.


″[Return on investment] and sex appeal are inversely correlated. What do we mean about that? Simply put: Don’t follow your passion,” Galloway told CNBC Make It. Instead, Galloway proposes a more practical approach. “Find out what you’re good at and then invest 10,000 hours in it — and become great at it,” Galloway says.

The 10,000-hour theory Malcolm Gladwell explains in his book “Outliers,” states that to become exceptionally good at something, you need about 10,000 hours of practice. In his book, he emphasizes that it's not just talent that matters; putting in the time and effort is key to mastering any skill or profession.

In “Outliers,” Gladwell notes that highly successful people, including Bill Gates, The Beatles, and Robert Oppenheimer, all put 10,000 hours into their particular skill sets before reaching incredible heights of success.

“People often come to NYU and say, ‘Follow your passion’ — which is total bulls***, especially because the individual telling you to follow your passion usually became magnificently wealthy selling software as a service for the scheduling of health care maintenance workers. And I refuse to believe that that was his or her passion,” Calloway continues.

Calloway adds that one of the benefits of focusing on our natural gifts is that it will eventually inspire passion. “What they were passionate about was being great at something, and then the accouterments of being great at something — the recognition from colleagues, the money, the status will make you passionate about whatever it is,” Galloway said.

Scott Galloway - The Four - What To Do
make action GIFs like this at MakeaGif

A 2018 report by Stanford researchers came to a similar conclusion. The researchers believe that following one’s passions isn’t a clear road to success for numerous reasons. The maxim assumes that we have only one passion in life and that it will not change over time. It also gives the impression that when we follow our passions, we’ll always magically fall into our dream jobs and become successful.

Finally, just because one is passionate about something doesn’t necessarily mean they are good at it.

While some may think Calloway’s advice is cynical and heartless, there's something extraordinary about nurturing our natural gifts and using them to achieve success in life. In a world where our talents and passions may not always align, embracing what makes you unique and sharing it with the world in your own special way is a beautiful gift that you can offer.

Education

A boy told his teacher she can't understand him because she's white. Her response is on point.

'Be the teacher America's children of color deserve, because we, the teachers, are responsible for instilling empathy and understanding in the hearts of all kids. We are responsible for the future of this country.'

Photo by John Pike. Used with permission.

Emily E. Smith is no ordinary teacher.



Fifth-grade teacher Emily E. Smith is not your ordinary teacher.

She founded The Hive Society — a classroom that's all about inspiring children to learn more about their world ... and themselves — by interacting with literature and current events. Students watch TED talks, read Rolling Stone, and analyze infographics. She even has a long-distance running club to encourage students to take care of their minds and bodies.

Smith is such an awesome teacher, in fact, that she recently received the 2015 Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing.


It had always been her dream to work with children in urban areas, so when Smith started teaching, she hit the ground running. She had her students making podcasts, and they had in-depth discussions about their readings on a cozy carpet.

But in her acceptance speech for her award, she made it clear that it took a turning point in her career before she really got it:

"Things changed for me the day when, during a classroom discussion, one of my kids bluntly told me I "couldn't understand because I was a white lady." I had to agree with him. I sat there and tried to speak openly about how I could never fully understand and went home and cried, because my children knew about white privilege before I did. The closest I could ever come was empathy."

Smith knew that just acknowledging her white privilege wasn't enough.

She wanted to move beyond just empathy and find a way to take some real action that would make a difference for her students.

She kept the same innovative and engaging teaching methods, but she totally revamped her curriculum to include works by people who looked like her students. She also carved out more time to discuss issues that her students were facing, such as xenophobia and racism.

And that effort? Absolutely worth it.

As she said in her acceptance speech:

"We studied the works of Sandra Cisneros, Pam Munoz Ryan, and Gary Soto, with the intertwined Spanish language and Latino culture — so fluent and deep in the memories of my kids that I saw light in their eyes I had never seen before."

The changes Smith made in her classroom make a whole lot of sense. And they're easy enough for teachers everywhere to make:

— They studied the work of historical Latino figures, with some of the original Spanish language included. Many children of color are growing up in bilingual households. In 2007, 55.4 million Americans 5 years of age and older spoke a language other than English at home.

— They analyzed the vision of America that great writers of color sought to create. And her students realized that our country still isn't quite living up to its ideals. Despite progress toward racial equality with the end of laws that enforced slavery or segregation, we still have a long way to go. Black people still fare worse than white people when it comes to things like wealth, unfair arrests, and health.

— They read excerpts from contemporary writers of color, like Ta-Nehisi Coates who writes about race. Her students are reading and learning from a diverse group of writers. No small thing when they live in a society that overwhelmingly gives more attention to white male writers (and where the number of employees of color in the newspaper industry stagnates at a paltry 12%).

— They read about the Syrian crisis, and many students wrote about journeys across the border in their family history for class. The opportunity particularly struck one student; the assignment touched him so much that he cried. He never had a teacher honor the journey his family made. And he was proud of his heritage for the first time ever. "One child cried," Smith shared, "and told me he never had a teacher who honored the journey his family took to the United States. He told me he was not ashamed anymore, but instead proud of the sacrifice his parents made for him."

Opportunities like this will only increase as the number of children from immigrant families is steadily increasing. As of 2013, almost 17.4 million children under 18 have at least one immigrant parent.

Smith now identifies not just as an English teacher, but as a social justice teacher.

ethnicity, responsibility, empathy

Teaching in a racially and ethnically diverse world.

Photo by John Pike. Used with permission.

Smith's successful shift in her teaching is an example for teachers everywhere, especially as our schools become increasingly ethnically and racially diverse. About 80% of American teachers are white. But as of last year, the majority of K-12 students in public schools are now children of color.

As America's demographics change, we need to work on creating work that reflects the experiences that our students relate to. And a more diverse curriculum isn't just important for students of color. It's vital for everyone.

As Smith put it, "We, the teachers, are responsible for instilling empathy and understanding in the hearts of all kids. We are responsible for the future of this country."


This article originally appeared on 12.07.15

Pop Culture

Man's seemingly obvious 'dishwasher hack' is blowing everyone's minds

One man’s observation about his dishwasher may change the way you do dishes forever.

Mike McLoughlan realized something very important about his dishwasher.

No one likes doing the dishes, but the tedious chore is made much easier when using a dishwasher. However, an alarming amount of people have reported that their dishwashers can actually make the job harder because they don't properly fit their dishes.

And that's where Twitter user Mike McLoughlin (@zuroph) comes in.

Back in January, McLoughlin made an observation about his dishwasher that would change the way he does dishes forever. For a decade, the Irishman thought that the bottom rack of his washer simply was too small for his large dinner plates. Then he made an amazing discovery:


The tweet went totally viral, and was shared over 14,000 times. He even tweeted a picture to show just how much he could fit in the dishwasher now that he knows the racks are adjustable:

The "hack" (is it still called a hack if the appliance is doing what it is supposed to be doing?) blew people's minds:

But other people were basically like, "Seriously, dude?"

While a group of others tried to one-up McLoughlin with stories of their own:


Okay, go on and check your own dishwasher. You know you want to.


This article first appeared on 8.16.18.

Marcos Alberti's "3 Glasses" project began with a joke and a few drinks with his friends.

The photo project originally depicted Alberti's friends drinking, first immediately after work and then after one, two, and three glasses of wine.

But after Imgur user minabear circulated the story, "3 Glasses" became more than just a joke. In fact, it went viral, garnering more than 1 million views and nearly 1,800 comments in its first week. So Alberti started taking more pictures and not just of his friends.



"The first picture was taken right away when our guests (had) just arrived at the studio in order to capture the stress and the fatigue after a full day after working all day long and from also facing rush hour traffic to get here," Alberti explained on his website. "Only then fun time and my project could begin. At the end of every glass of wine, a snapshot, nothing fancy, a face and a wall, 3 times."

Why was the series so popular? Anyone who has ever had a long day at work and needed to "wine" down will quickly see why.

Take a look:

Photos of person after drinking glasses of win

All photos by Marcos Alberti, used with permission.

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Photos of person after drinking glasses of win

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This article originally appeared on 11.19.16