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[Congressional Record: June 11, 2002 (Senate)]
[Page S5361-S5362]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


 Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, each year the American Immigration 
Law Foundation and the American Immigration Lawyers Association sponsor 
a national writing contest on immigration. Thousands of fifth-grade 
students from across the country participate in the competition, 
responding to the statement, ``Why I'm Glad America is a Nation of 
  These essays remind us that it is of great importance that we not 
forget our rich history and heritage as a nation of immigrants. 
Continued immigration is part of our national well-being, our identity 
as a nation, and our strength in today's world.
  I had the privilege of serving as one of the judges for this year's 
contest, and was very impressed by the young writers. In their essays, 
the students showed great pride in our Nation's diversity and its 
immigrant heritage, and many told the story of their own family's 
  I am pleased to announce that this year's winner is a Massachusetts 
resident, Nicole Florio, a fifth-grade student in Framingham, MA. In 
her poem, ``Why Am I Glad,'' Nicole explores the value of her friends' 
cultures and how their diversity enhances her life. She describes the 
diverse traditions and treasures of her friends, from Ceilidh's Irish 
step-dancing to Anastasia's nesting dolls. In the final stanza, Nicole 
notes how she herself is a product of immigrants, as all of us are, and 
that without immigration, ``there would be no me!''
  Other students honored for their creative essays were Mike Duffy of 
Sarasota, FL, Emily Friedman of Los Angeles, CA, Christina Jundt of 
Norcross, GA, and Ilana Pena of North Miami Beach, FL.
  I believe that these award-winning essays in the ``Celebrate 
America'' contest will be of interest to all of us in the Senate, and 
ask that they be printed in the Record.
  The essays follow.

            Why Am I Glad America Is a Nation of Immigrants

 (By Nicole Florio, Hemenway Elementary School, Farmingham, MA, Grand 
                             Prize Winner)

     People come to America
     from many different places,
     I have lots of friends
     of many different races.

     Ceilidh's from Ireland,
     we have loads of fun,
     she taught me Irish step-dancing
     we dance till day is done!

     Jessica's from Colombia,
     she speaks Spanish,
     to speak two languages
     is my wish.

     Anastasia is from Russia,
     I adore her nesting dolls,
     I looked for them
     in all of the malls.

     Cara and Cady are from China,
     Cady's grandma grows bamboo.
     They both love Chinese New Year
     and I do too!

     Murat is from Turkey,
     his wedding I did love,
     when we left the
     fireworks blasted 'bove!

     Nicole is from Israel,
     she is thirteen.
     When she had her Bat Mitzvah
     she looked like a queen!

     If I didn't have these friends,
     how boring life would be!
     I'm glad America has immigrants
     as you can plainly see.

     Mom's family is from Poland,
     Dad's from Italy,
     if my grandparents didn't come
     there would be no me!

       Based on a true story!

            Why I Am Glad America Is a Nation Of Immigrants

     (By Mike Duffy, Pine View Elementary, Sarasota, FL, Runner-Up)

       I am glad America is a nation of immigrants. When the 
     original immigrants came to America, they came here seeking 
     freedom of expression, religious freedom, and freedom from 
     oppression. This helped to form our constitution, which gives 
     us those same equal rights today.
       The diverseness of the people who came here for 
     opportunities brought about a culture that the world had not 
     previously seen before. It also gave us ideas that would have 
     never come to light otherwise.
       Living with other cultures teaches us new things and makes 
     us more tolerant and understanding of our fellow man. The 
     education we gave each other makes us more open to new ideas 
     and better technology. Our nation is the strongest and best 
     because of our unity.
       In America all religions are practiced freely. Our 
     different beliefs are acknowledged and respected. This makes 
     us strong and proud. Our way of life is often challenged 
     though. Freedom is always at stake from those who wish to 
     dominate. Brave immigrants past and present, who took the 
     chance of coming here for a better life; help keep our 
     country free and strong. Once they have enjoyed the freedom 
     we have, they are willing to stand up and fight to keep that 
       Mutual respect, which all people can enjoy here in this 
     country, is why we (all cultures) come together so readily, 
     when any part of our nation is in trouble. It is living proof 
     that despite our differences we are all Americans at heart.

                         A Nation of Immigrants

 (By Emily Friedman, Stephen S. Wise Elementary, Los Angeles, CA, AILA 
              Southern California Chapter Contest Winner)

       In early September my teachers asked, ``Do you think 
     America is a melting pot or a salad bowl?'' After thinking 
     about it, I decided America is neither. America is not like a 
     melting pot because all the cultures do not blend together 
     and become unnoticeable. However, America is not a salad bowl 
     because cultures do not stay as distinct as lettuce and 
     cucumbers in a salad. I thought America should be described 
     as a chunky, minestrone soup. The ingredients stay distinct, 
     but as the soup simmers, the ingredients like cultures 
     interact and blend with each other.
       The different spices and vegetables that go into minestrone 
     soup are like the immigrants from different places around the 
     world. The immigrants spice up the soup and make it 
     flavorful. With the exception of Native Americans, we were 
     all once immigrants. The best secret of a minestrone soup is 
     that it never stays the same. As immigrants come from all 
     over the world, they contribute to the taste of the soup. 
     They bring their language, traditions, foods and customs and 
     their various dreams for a better life for freedom and 
     opportunity. They also add their ideas for a better America 
     and make contributions to our society.
       I am proud to live in a country where people can be free 
     and where everyone can contribute. I am glad America is a 
     nation of immigrants because without them, America wouldn't 
     be a chunky bowl of delicious minestrone soup.

                    America--A Nation of Immigrants

  (By Christina Jundt, Simpson Elementary School, Norcross, GA, AILA 
                    Atlanta Chapter Contest Winner)

       As Immigrants traveled over the rolling sea, checked in at 
     Ellis Island, suffered

[[Page S5362]]

     through minimum wage jobs, and endured criticism from the 
     people around them, they had no idea they would change 
     American people, and America itself forever.
       America is like a giant mosaic--the most beautiful in the 
     world. If the mosaic was all one color, the beauty would be 
     gone. The pieces are all beautiful in their own way. Not one 
     piece is more important than another. Not one piece shines 
     more brightly than another. The mosaic is perfect, and 
     without Immigrants, this could not have been accomplished. So 
     much of our lives would be different if it wasn't for the 
     diverse nationalities, and the Immigrants that traveled from 
     those nations. Every time you eat a plate of spaghetti, think 
     of an Italian Immigrant. Every time you bite into a bar of 
     chocolate, think of a Mexican Immigrant. Every time you look 
     around your community, and see people nationalities, who have 
     different religions, who have different customs, think of an 
     Immigrant who bravely traveled from their hometown, to bring 
     us those unique ways of life. These Immigrants enriched and 
     influenced our lives in so many positive ways.

             Why I'm Glad America is a Nation of Immigrants

  (By Ilana Pena, Oaks Elementary School, North Miami Beach, FL, AILA 
                Southern Florida Chapter Contest Winner)

       Tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce . . . Russians, Cubans, Asians 
     . . . This is America, a nation of immigrants. Many people 
     say America is a melting pot, everybody coming from different 
     nations but melting into America. We are all proud to be 
     Americans, but I think of us not as a melting pot, but as a 
     salad bowl.
       A salad bowl is made up of different vegetables, each with 
     it's own distinct flavor. When you take a bite, you still 
     taste each individual vegetable, but mixed all together, the 
     salad is delicious. Each American has his own distinct 
     identity yet mixes together to create our wonderful America, 
     a country made up of different people, with different 
     cultures and backgrounds.
       Being a country of immigrants makes America a dynamic place 
     to live. We are rich with unique cultures. I have a friend 
     whose family comes from India, and I am fascinated by her 
     stories about her family's home country. Because of 
     immigrants, there are different foods in our country, 
     different clothing, different songs, and different ways of 
       My father and his family came from Cuba, and my mother's 
     family came from Russia. I am grateful that my country 
     welcomed them here in the United States of America. On our 
     Thanksgiving table is not only the traditional turkey, but 
     frijoles negros, and kugel pudding. It makes me realize what 
     a remarkable country I live in, as we all, Jews and Cubans, 
     sit around a long table with the salad in the center 
     representing our country, and share our cultures.