On August 3rd, the Dream Riders had a community meeting with students and professors of Freedom University at the Athens Latino Center for Education and Services. Everyone was very welcoming and supportive of us and our campaign. In contrast to yesterday’s press conference luncheon, this meeting was more intimate, reminding us of our earlier meeting with SEAC and United For the Dream, when all present shared their stories.
We began by introducing ourselves and our favorite kind of ice cream. This activity created a comfortable atmosphere and allowed others to freely share their ideas and stories. The Dream Riders were given an overview of the educational system of Georgia and Freedom University. In Georgia, undocumented immigrant students face very limited opportunities when it comes to accessing college education. If undocumented, the students are unable to apply to the top five universities within the state. As a result, they must seek admissions to private universities out of state, which can cost them additionally tens of thousands of dollars to attend. To provide equal access to education, a small group of professors have arranged classes for these students at Freedom University. Freedom University is not an accredited university which will lead to obtaining a specific degree or license. Rather, it educates students who are purely interested in learning and seeking a better future through education. All of the Dream Riders were inspired and admired the opportunity Freedom University provides students who face unfair discrimination with regard to access to public education.
This community meeting allowed everyone to go in great depth with their personal stories and goals. Even though it was not planned for me to share my story, I also went ahead and shared. The ice was broken quickly and all of us who had just met for the first time, students, professors, and community members, were honest, open, and encouraging. Youth striving to become American with equal rights and protection had a chance to dialogue. It was an extremely rich learning experience me to interact with the Freedom University family. What an insightful way to end our trip to Georgia!
“I am a Dream Rider and I am motivated to act. I ride to meet and share with people like me in cities across the U.S.” -Anna Jung, Dream Rider from California.