By: Margo Greenbaum
In 2003, my name was Margarita Velichkova Kamenova. I was a 4 year-old girl living in a Bulgarian orphanage. When I think of that 4 year old girl, tears form. Tears form because she had little opportunity for an education. She would likely never be a senior in high school with a love of learning and a dream of attending college. No. That little girl would likely be living on the streets, working, or possibly dead.
Fortunately, I was adopted on August 7th of that year by Gail and Leonard Greenbaum, whom I now call Mom and Dad. I am an 18 year-old senior attending Marlboro High School in New Jersey and my name is Margo Alexandra Greenbaum. I have fallen more in love with learning with every step I have taken in America. School has always been a place I love, and my safe haven. I will attend college next year to begin my pursuit of a career in education. My dream is to become a teacher and to share my love of learning and to create safe havens for children.
Being adopted and moving to America gave me a second chance at life. I have a chance to become everything I want to be and more. I live the American dream. What makes America different from Bulgaria, and every other country, is that dream and our schools. People immigrate to America for their second chance at life, and to go to school to fulfill their own dreams. Immigrants come to America to escape poverty, persecution, and terrorism; to avoid the fear of possibly being shot once they leave their homes – or their orphanages. They also come for the opportunity and the dreams that our schools provide.
Tragically, the fear I escaped as an immigrant is now revisiting me as an American. For the first time in my educational career I was afraid to go to school – my safe haven. On February 14, 2018, 17 children and teachers walked out of their houses in Florida to never return because they were shot dead. They were shot dead by an American citizen - not an ISIS terrorist, but another American citizen! That thought will not leave my mind as I sit in my class, looking outside the window worrying if another American would walk into my school and start shooting. My principal had a moment of silence. My administrators stood in the halls to calm everyone's nerves. My We the People teacher and classmates spent all of class talking about an attack on high schoolers who look and sound so much like us. My classmates repeatedly asked, “How do we stop this?” “What do we do?” “What if this happened in our school?”
I write to you today not as a Democrat, not as a Republican, but as an American citizen; as one who never again wants to get the notification that a school shooting happened; as one who never again wants to hear that notification that 17 INNOCENT people died at a school – at a safe haven. I also do not want to listen to the media blaming a certain party; or politicians in those parties tweeting who or what is at fault; or their meaningless thoughts and prayers. Praying will not bring back to life Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jamie Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Alex Schachter, or Peter Wang. I call for Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and ALL politicians to put their petty differences aside and to stop playing the blame game, to stop being so one sided, and to start putting action into your words. I ask that you, in honor of the people who died in the 18th school shooting in the last 2 months, to put action to your words.
Our Second Amendment protects our right to bear arms as a defensive measure. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny.” Going to school, or into a mall, or to a movie theater or a nightclub should not be an action of last resort.
As a student, I look to you, the political leaders of this country, to keep me and my classmates and teachers safe. As a future educator, I ask that you to make my fear of having to see my students get shot go away, so I can worry about lesson plans that inspire. As an American citizen, I ask you to come together to make sure that our posterity does not have to worry about the issue of gun control. I ask you to keep America a safe haven, where immigrants come to flee terror. Please do not allow it to degenerate into a country that accepts terror as an unavoidable condition of education. Do not let it become a country that people flee from.