2017 Top 10

2017 Top 10

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2017 Top 10

From The Eagle Huntress poster in the French metro to the Liyana festival premiere where the kids flew on an airplane for the first time – 2017 has been quite a year for Shine!  We’re proud to have brought The Wrong Light to US audiences, shining a light on the topic of misrepresentation in the charity industry; joined the film Tre, Maison, Dasan about parental incarceration; and began a new documentary in which teens’ work is used to train police officers. And we couldn’t have done it without our supporters!

 

Pflugerville High School Students: “Schooling” Us On Compassion

Pflugerville High School Students: “Schooling” Us On Compassion

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Pflugerville High School Students: “Schooling” Us On Compassion

STUDENTS AT PFLUGERVILLE HIGH SCHOOL CHEER FOR THEIR FRIENDS AND CLASSMATES AT A FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAME. (CREDIT: DIXIE ROSS)

By Susan MacLaury

The 115th US Congress is the most diverse in history with nearly one in five members a racial or ethnic minority. This is a welcome step in the right direction, though its 19% minority membership compares with 38% nationally, making it more like a melting 1-qt sauce pan than an actual pot.

Still, one would hope that increased Congressional diversity would lead to genuine compassion toward all Americans. As I mentioned in my earlier blog post about the failure of our representatives and senators to unite to support the Children’s Health Insurance Plan, this does not seem to be the case. (By the way, Jimmy Kimmel made an impassioned defense of it last night on his show that’s worth watching). Assaults on affordable health care and recent moves to pass a tax bill that ultimately hurts lower and middle income Americans begs the question: To whom do we look to school us on caring for others? To our young, of course.

Enter Pflugerville High School, recently profiled in Readers Digest’s “The Nicest Places in America” series. Participating in a Readers’ Digest readers poll of the best places to live in America, staff and students from the school responded so convincingly that they were named one of the top 10 finalists. Pflugerville is a rural community near Austin, TX (and the site of the filming of the pilot for Friday Night Lights). Its high school is strikingly diverse. Two in 5 students are Hispanic, ¼ are white, nearly ¼ black, and 7% are Asian. And while the median town income is $76,000, 44% of the students at the high school are economically disadvantaged.

Pflugerville isn’t exceptional academically when compared to other Texas high schools. Though it boasts a 98% graduation rate and above average rating in college readiness, its students perform about average on state tests.

But it does seem to be a school in which students look out for one another and one teacher, Dixie Ross, is quoted as saying: “Here niceness seems to be the default mode.” One student, Sahaz Shah, described his first day in the high school after recently immigrating from Bahrain. He didn’t know anyone and a student invited him to sit with him and his friends. He comments: “I was really surprised by how inclusive everyone was. Today that guy is a very good friend.” Several students who aspire to be teachers belong to the Ready-Set-Teach program that pairs them with special needs kids. When one autistic student experienced distress at a track meet earlier this year, all of the students ran to him to give him assistance.

We “shine a light” on kids globally who struggle against difficult odds with resiliency, talent, and hope. In this troubled and troubling age, we look closely at the next generation of voters and the students at Pflugerville give us confidence that it will be a caring one.

NYC Bombing: Thank You to Several Real Americans

NYC Bombing: Thank You to Several Real Americans

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NYC Bombing: Thank You to Several Real Americans

By Susan MacLaury

I didn’t realize anything was amiss this morning until my bus driver Cliff asked if I’d heard what had happened and explained to me that there had been a bomb incident and that Port Authority was shut down.

I was alarmed by this but not frightened because I knew I was in good hands. Cliff is a consummate professional, the kind of bus driver who actually wears his cap, is unfailingly polite and just makes you feel safe. (He’s also an accomplished musician and my favorite driver).  He talked about the stress he felt on a day like today, when all that is routine suddenly isn’t.

We were apparently one of the first buses to be allowed back into Port Authority. When we got out I was struck by the number of Transit authority officials, national guardsmen and women, and police who were there calmly directing all of us out of the 9th Avenue entrance. I teared up then, looking at their faces – mostly young, very multi-cultural, and resolute – and I was so grateful for their courage.

So ahead of the tweet storm I can only imagine we’ll be subjected to today – why we need an immigration ban, how NYC should be ashamed for being a sanctuary city, etc. –  I want to say that it’s this diversity, coupled with basic human nature, that makes me so proud of NYC. It’s also what actually does make America great. It always has been. Through its films and outreach, Shine has always represented young persons of varying ethnicities and cultures. It’s an honor to acknowledge them in person as well.

*Shine’s office is one block away from where the NYC Bombing occurred on December 11th.  At the time of this writing, there were no deaths, but please check news sources for updates.

Children’s Health Insurance Plan: Who’s Watching the Kids?

Children’s Health Insurance Plan: Who’s Watching the Kids?

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Children’s Health Insurance Plan: Who’s Watching the Kids?

By Susan MacLaury

As 2017 draws to an end – finally – I find myself battling a continuous mix of incredulity and depression over American core values as expressed by our government … or the lack thereof. Every day brings unwanted headlines that trigger alarm about who’s protecting American children’s wellbeing.

It’s hard to understand how Congress can unify to pass a tax cut plan that almost surely will be counterbalanced by cuts in social services to needy families. It’s virtually impossible to fathom their inability to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Plan, which has been supported by both sides of the aisle since its initial passage in 1997.

This stalemate is even more bewildering since both Democrats and Republicans agree it should be funded through 2022 but apparently can’t agree how. The bill proposed by Republicans was blocked by the Democrats because it contained provisions that would have cut other public health programs and health insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands more. Really? Can our elected officials truly not do better than this?

I would ask each of you to take time to research this problem on your own and take the action your conscience demands. Our children, and our grandchildren, depend on us now more than ever.