All teenagers struggle to find their place. But for kids like Francisco, who have immigrated to northwest Iowa to flee widespread poverty and violence (some with their families, some without), those questions of identity take a different tone. Who will I stay with tonight? Are my family members safe?
Last fall, Francisco and 200 other area students attended a matinee concert with the world famous Columbian band Herencia de Timbiqui. The music began, and before long the whole student audience had joined Francisco in singing and dancing with the band. The buses home rang with the voices of students still singing together long after the concert had ended.
This 14-year-old boy—who normally looks stoic and guarded, who handles his education with adult maturity because he feels so lucky to have it—was nothing short of giddy. He showed off band members’ autographs on his arms. He laughed, high fived, and reenacted parts of the concert with his peers. He acted, for once, like a kid. Like high school students should act.
You give him—and so many of us—a place to belong. Thank you for making Sioux County a wonderful place to call home.