Today is the one year anniversary of blogger Coolred's return from Bahrain to the USA, after 23 years, marriage, divorce, and 5 children. To commemorate the event she has done her own anniversary post, Coolred and the gang...one year on (never trust a budding journalist with part of a working title! :D), which I highly recommend reading. I wanted to do an anniversary post as well, to which Coolred graciously agreed.
Part of that desire was simply to catch up readers here on what has happened since I posted during Ramadan 2009 on her efforts to return home to the USA, and to reunite her family, as 2 of her children had spent a year in the USA living with her sister, while Coolred organized her own and the return of the other 3--2 of whom had spent the year in high school in Bahrain, while the 3rd had returned for at least the summer after an academic year at high school in the USA. I did a number of posts at that time highlighting their efforts and its successful outcome: Ramadan, Zakat, Sadaqa, and Charity: When Mixed Marriages Go Awry, and Mixed Families Suffer; Update; They're Off!; Eid Al-Fitr and Thanks Giving: "Do you believe in miracles?"
Another part of the desire to do this update post was to show the meaningfulness of Ramadan zakat, sadaqa, and the miracles that can happen during that holiest of months, and about which I have posted this year (all summarized and linked in the post, Ramadan 2010--As the Month Comes to a Close), while linking to last year's posts. The primary miracle was the agreement by Coolred's most reluctant to leave Bahrain son, Zack, to try living in the USA for a year (Eid Al-Fitr and Thanks Giving: "Do you believe in miracles?"). As I have said to her many times on chat, in doing so, Zack gave her and the others an extraordinary Ramadan gift of dreams fulfilled, future opportunities, and family unity. Many people from around the world responded with their donations of money, blogging and social networking efforts, and wishes and prayers to help realize that miracle and gift.
A third reason for this post, was to highlight the realities of the American Dream. The American Dream--that by hard work, and one's own efforts, one can rise up from poor life circumstances and have both financial and social success--is both a myth and a reality. The myth is the stuff of Horatio Alger stories, and the overemphasis on an individual effort. At its most negative, it implies that those who fail to do so are in fact personal failures, including morally. At its most positive, it does reflect that there is greater opportunity and social mobility in the USA than in many other countries; and, that there is also more social support, and family solidarity than what is often foregrounded. It is a dream and a reality for Americans born and bred, for immigrants, and for some combination of that, as in Coolred's family.
The realities of the American Dream include a lot of hard work, setbacks, and often more than one family member working more than one job to make ends meet, and eventually get ahead. It means being caught between so poor as to benefit from social supports, and just well off enough not to. That has meant no health care for the "working poor", and thus no preventive health visits, except for those in public school, and delaying treatment for emergency room visits only. Hopefully that is changing with "Obamacare".
It means at times budgeting between gas (petrol) and grocery money, especially as the US is such a car society that it is very hard to hold a job in most places without a car as a means of transport to and from work. It also means not having much margin for emergency financial needs, or extras. Food banks and private charitable institutions, some faith based but serving all, fill in the gaps where they can.
Many teens work to help out with family expenses and cover some of their own necessities. Many work fulltime or near fulltime to pay their way through college, often choosing a state college because it has the least expensive tuition fees, and money is saved by living at home. They do benefit from federal Pell Grants to help with tuition and bookstore expenses. Living expenses are major ones on top of that. Many adults who have missed out return as mature students with the same benefits, but with the added responsibility of family obligations.
Coolred and the Gang have been successfully living the American Dream with its triumphs and challenges for the last year, united in her home town of Rock Springs, Wyoming. All have done extremely well academically, while Coolred, and the oldest, Sara (soon to be married) and Adam, combine college with work. Zack graduated high school with brilliant marks and is now working fulltime for his "gap year"; and, Ameena returns to high school with a parttime job. Jibreel maintains high elementary school grades while juggling at which sport to excel (basketball, football, ...). There have been struggles, including with racism, and setbacks (financial and jobwise), and of course it wouldn't be Coolred if there weren't a car crash and police involved. The details are all on her blog, where she has reassured skittish readers by ranting as well from the USA as from Bahrain.
Whence the miracle began:
Al Hidd, on a sand spit at the southeast end of Muharraq Island, Bahrain
One of the causeways joining Muharraq Island to the main island of Bahrain
Muharraq Island (foreground), and Manama City (background), Bahrain
Bahrain International Airport, Muharraq Island
Mosque, Hidd, Bahrain
A property for sale in Hidd, not one of the ones available to Coolred!
Desalination Plant, Hidd, Bahrain
Sunsets, Hidd, Bahrain
Where Coolred and the Gang are living the American Dream:
From the PBS site about the 1885 Rock Springs Massacre against the Chinese
The lay of the land
Welcome sign to Rock Springs, Wyoming, c.1970
Rock Springs High School logo
Western Wyoming Community College logo
2 views of Western Wyoming Community College
Rock Springs Park, Coyote Creek Trail, Wyoming
2 views of the countryside
What is your view of the American Dream?
What are the mythical and realistic aspects?
What is your impression or experience of the gifts and miracles of holy days and charitable actions?
Other comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?
Ramadan and the Mixed Couple/Family
Ramadan, Zakat, Sadaqa, and Charity: When Mixed Marriages Go Awry, and Mixed Families Suffer;
Eid Al-Fitr and Thanks Giving: "Do you believe in miracles?"
Ramadan: A Special Month
Ramadan 2010--As the Month Comes to a Close
Coolred and the gang...one year on.