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Seeing God's Work in Chinatown

Caitlin Lee

On September 28, sophomore Elizabeth JeanBaptiste had a life-changing epiphany through Boston Day, our annual experiential learning field trip.  Along with her fellow 10th graders, Elizabeth visited ACCESS in Chinatown.  Founded in 1990, ACCESS is a non-profit Christian organization that serves immigrant Chinese families.  

ACCESS gave our students a firsthand experience of what it's like to immigrate to the United States.  The students were tasked with filling out immigration forms.  The only catch?  The form was entirely in Chinese.   Students had to figure out what the form was asking and respond in Chinese.

If they handed in an incorrect form, it was simply marked "WRONG." They then had to start over again with a new blank form.  Many students grew frustrated and angry.  Others cried.  

Over an hour later, Elizabeth was the first in her class to complete the form.  "I cried three times!"  Elizabeth laughs. "They were tears of relief.  And they were definitely tears of joy."  

While Elizabeth felt excited and happy when she completed her form, she understood the greater significance of the exercise.  "I immediately felt empathy.  My parents and brother are immigrants from Haiti. This helped me understand their experiences and empathize with many other immigrants."

Once Elizabeth collected herself, she jumped into helping other students complete their forms.  It would be another two hours before all the students completed this exercise.

At the end of the visit, the 10th graders reflected on their experience.  Not only did they leave with a better perspective of an immigrant's life, but they also felt more empathy for international students.  

This short visit to Chinatown left a lasting impact on Elizabeth and her fellow BTA classmates.  The empathy they gained will serve them in their own communities and help them to love others as Jesus calls them to do.  And that's what Boston Day is all about.