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Commentary :: Education : International : Politics : Race
Saving Obain: A case study
14 May 2005
Modified: 09:30:41 PM
A personal reflection by a Fenway High School student on the role that protest and civic action played in freeing local highschool teacher Attouoman Obain and allowing him to remain in the United States.
As a senior at Fenway High School, I was honored to see some civil action take place for the freedom of Attouoman Obain in March. Originally from the Ivory Coast in West Africa, this 10th-grade math teacher faced the threat of deportation. After his escape from the Ivory Coase he was denied asylum here. Mr. Obain's love for Fenway and his freedom caused him to overstay his visa. Mr. Obain is a great teacher and a good man. He deserves to stay in the US and is needed at Fenway, say all of my friends and teachers there. With a case as special as this one, Mr. Obain is not a problem nor a criminal. He has real goals for his students and a purpose at Fenway. I see him as a man of the school community and someone committed to being a positive figure to us all.

I quickly got on the phone to notify my aunt, Lenore Glaser. She is an immigreation lawyer, and she wrote a supportive letter to Sen. John Kerry to see what could be done to help Mr. Obain. Afterwards, the Omeda class and I made protest signs for the rally that would take place outside the school. This was the first time that I was ever involved in such an event, and it was also a great experience seeing a postive outcome of the situation.

At the JFK building, all of the Fenway High School and staff protested together, saying, "Free Obain, and let him stay," as I shouted on my own off to the side, "Free Obain, and let him stay in the land of the free." Accompanied by a few of my friends from school, and Mr. Brian Gonzalez, we had lunch at the Copley Mall before going to the protest. Even students from the Boston Arts Academy showed up for the rally. It was a moving event. The authorities just simply could not ignore us and our positive role models alongside of us.

Some of the news reporters asked, "What do you think about your teacher's situation?" I said, "You can't charge Obain with the same thing twice." Like me, students from Fenway were briedly interviewed by reporters. Now, when I see Mr. Obain in my school from time to time, I always say "God bless," and "You'll be in my praters," assuring Mr. Obain that there is always hope through hard times. From reading the Fenway News Special Edition March, 2005, I gathered that Obain's stay was made possible by a private bill that will let him stay until the end of Congress's session in 2007.

The writer lives in Jamaica Plain and is in an intern at the Gazette this spring.

<reprinted without the author's permission>

Copyright by the author. All rights reserved.
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