April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Congressman Albio Sires Visits RTMA Middle School

Congressman Albio Sires of the Eighth Congressional District of New Jersey, brought to the JEC by Miles Ehrenkranz, visited with fifth through eighth graders last week as a special surprise enhancement to their civics curriculum. Students learned first-hand what it was like to rise through the ranks of public service as the congressman shared his personal story of what life was like for him when he was only 11 years old, fleeing Cuba for America. Students were especially interested in the congressman’s passage from school teacher to politician some 20 years ago, driven by what he described as his mission to represent the Hispanic community at a time when there were very few role models for him to emulate.

“On June 2, I brought in U.S. Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) to speak to my students about what effective public servants do at the highest levels of our government, since my work on Capitol Hill taught me that face-to-face meetings are more powerful than studying the same facts in the curriculum alone,” said Mr. Ehrenkranz. “Congressman Sires’ words illustrated the path he took from being a Cuban immigrant to becoming a U.S. congressman and really reached our students by bringing our curriculum to life.”

Students participated rigorously in an extended question and answer session, peppering the congressman with questions ranging from partisan politics to issues related to the state of New Jersey, immigration policy and border patrol. Students had the opportunity to demonstrate their comprehension of the curriculum material by asking complex questions and the congressman and his accompanying staff were impressed by how “bright and respectful” the students were, while his chief of staff made special mention of the “depth and breadth” of the students’ questions.

One of the lasting messages that the congressman imparted was a call for tolerance, no matter which political party one belonged to, or country one came from.

“I’m white and I have green eyes,” he said, “yet when I first arrived as a child to the U.S., people made fun of me because I came from Cuba. We all have to be tolerant. People look different and have different beliefs and ideas from you. Differences don’t make people bad. We need to learn from each other and our differences. If you remember anything from today, please remember to be tolerant.”

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