“The American Dream is about more than individual ability and determination. It really does take a village!” Ernesto Vilchis

All too often, we forget to appreciate the incredible bounty and opportunity we have here in the United States of America. An email from my daughter today reminded me to stop…and be grateful. It's about a graduate school classmate and close friend of hers, Ernesto Vilchis, who has just become a U. S. citizen. His journey took him from undocumented immigrant status as a high school student — with no English skills — to an articulate, successful graduate of UC-Berkley and Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She shared his message to their classmates in which he expresses profound gratitude for those who helped him along the way, and he is turning gratitude into action. Read on…

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Ernesto Vilchis

Dear WWS Classmates,

As many of you know, a couple of weeks ago I became a U.S. Citizen! When I look back at my last 20-years in America, I am most grateful for two things: the many wonderful friends I have made along the way and the opportunity to receive a great education. It has been a long an arduous journey filled with sweat and tears, but above all joy.

Ever since I graduated from Cal, I dreamed of one day establishing a scholarship to help a new immigrant achieve his or her dreams of attending College. Well… that day has finally arrived. My partner, Gioia, and I have established a scholarship to honor my ESL high school teacher, Mrs. Louise Erdman, who was instrumental in my pursuit of a higher education.

Over the last 20 years, dozens of people have helped and inspired me and, looking back, it makes me realize that the American Dream is about more than individual ability and determination. It really does take a village!

I am writing to ask for your help and/or money:) Our goal is to raise the equivalent of 1 year's tuition at a UC school or $12,000. We have already raised almost $5,000, but need your help to reach our target.

If you want to help us out, go to www.tourdegree.org and click on the “Donate Now” button.

I am so excited for this dream to become a reality for an aspiring graduate and appreciate your taking time to read this email and possibly support our cause.


Somewhere in the past of most American families, someone took that courageous step to leave everything they knew and come to the New World to seek a better life. It's good to occasionally remember that connection with our past and reflect on our many blessings.

Perhaps you'll feel called to help build the American Dream for someone else by supporting this scholarship. Or perhaps you'll look back from where you've come — whether that place is physical or spiritual — and reach out to anyone who is struggling to get where you are today. It's the American way.

Photo credit: John A. Cottrell, Jr., M.D.
Permalink for this blog post: http://www.heartspoken.com/2011/04/remembering-the-american-dream/

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