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Nationally Recognized Hispanic Immigrants Recount Their Stories

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In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage month (Sept. 15-Oct. 16), Bellport High School students received an opportunity to attend virtual presentations by leading Hispanic advocates about their struggles and triumphs in acclimating to the United States.

Hagedorn Foundation Community Outreach Coordinator Joselo Lucero encouraged South Country Central School District students who have immigrated to tell their story so that others can acquire hope. Lucero poignantly recounted the night that his 37-year-old brother Marcelo Lucero was beaten and murdered by seven teenagers in downtown Patchogue bringing national attention to the issue of hate crimes on Long Island. Lucero and his brother had immigrated to the country from Ecuador 16 years prior to the incident, which has had lasting implications for his family and the families of the imprisoned teens.

“I want to see change, especially at a time when we as a country are so divided,” Lucero said. “No one is ‘illegal;” Everyone has a right to live.”

During a second presentation, nationally recognized English as a Second Language teacher Emily Astrid Francis, originally from Guatemala, spoke about her life as an unaccompanied teen and her plight in becoming educated in the United States. She shared her background as her family’s oldest child, who worked and attended school when possible, later whisked away by a coyote on a two-month trip to Mexico City and eventually the United States. Ms. Francis spoke about failing the Regents American History exam, which made her unqualified for a diploma. She later moved to North Carolina, where she received her GED and has advocated for thousands of students learning English in this country. She also recounted her experiences on being featured on the Ellen Show.

Ms. Francis’ message to students who have immigrated was “not to abandon your culture.” She said, “Your experience and background are core to who you are and what you do in the future.”
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