March 2009 Archives

my family needs your help


My husband received this email from his sister last night, and I'm sharing it in hopes that those of you who read my blog will consider supporting the DREAM legislation described below. Without it, our nephew's wife, who is pregnant with his child, will be deported to a country she hasn't even seen since she was an infant.

Many of you are already aware of the problems facing our family right now with the deportation proceedings that are being brought against our beloved daughter-in-law. For those of you who aren't, here's a brief recap:

Our daughter-in-law (we'll call her "Z" so as to protect her identity) and her mother came to the United States from the Ukraine in 1999 on a marriage visa. Because of personal problems, her mother did not marry the person named on the visa. Therefore she was required by law to leave the country, which she did not do. As a minor at the age of 13, Z had no choice but to stay also. Z's mother later married a U.S. citizen, but because she overstayed her visa, she is still subject to deportation. Because it would cause a hardship on her husband if she were deported, she has been allowed to stay. While she was a minor, Z was also allowed to stay. Now that she has reached legal age, the government has decided that she should be deported. It makes no difference that she has married a U.S. citizen and is pregnant with his child. It makes no difference that as a minor she had no control over the circumstances that put her in this situation - she will still be banned from re-entering the U.S. for ten years. It makes no difference that her deportation will cause a hardship on her U.S. citizen husband.

No country will give her a passport right now. She will be sent back to live in a strange country she does not know. Of course her husband, my son Brian, could not send his pregnant wife there alone. He will be forced to quit his job and go with her to a country where he will not be able to find work and cannot speak the language. He will lose his medical coverage, which he needs not only for the safe delivery of the baby, but he needs surgery also. After battling Crohn's for the past eight years, his doctor has said that his colon is going to have to be removed. He is on massive amounts of medication right now, trying to get the inflammation down enough so that the surgery can be performed. If he doesn't have the surgery, he could find himself in a life-threatening situation. I worry what effect all this stress will have on his health and know it can't be good for my unborn grandchild either.

When I first heard several months ago that the government had started deportation proceedings against Z, I thought that there was nothing to worry about. I didn't believe that anyone could so cold-hearted as to send this beautiful, intelligent, hard working, young woman, who has done nothing wrong, to a country she doesn't even know anymore. As I found out that all legal options were being exhausted and the immigration courts are indeed "cold hearted", I began doing online research and found that she is not an isolated case by far. Thousands of young people who came here as minors are now being deported. For many, this is the only home they can remember. They are often taken out of classes in handcuffs and sent to lands they don't know, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. I cannot imagine the terror they must be feeling. These children are being cruelly punished for something their parents did many years ago that was beyond their control.

There was a bill introduced into the Senate and House on March 26 known as the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act. If passed, this bill would enable some of these young people, like Z, to no longer be punished for their parents' actions and to have a way to acquire legal residence and work in the only country they know. It's not a hand-out. They would have to work for what we take for granted. There are age, residency, education and moral character requirements. But for hard working young people, who stay out of trouble, it is a way to be allowed to live in the only country that they have ever known, with their loved ones. It is our only hope that our family will not be torn apart and that our grandchild can grow up in the country we call home.

Please go to the following website and sign their petition asking your Congressmen to support this bill. Phone calls, letters, and faxes to your Senators and Representatives would also be helpful. Please forward this email to everyone you know and ask for their support. If you have an account on Facebook, My Space, or any other social networking site, please post this email there. If you have any suggestions that you think might help us, please let me know.

Petition to Congress to Support the DREAM Act

Contact information for Senators and Representatives

Basic Information on the Dream Act (PDF)

Today is Ada Lovelace's birthday, and in honor of the first International Ada Lovelace Day, thousands of people are posting blog entries about a woman in technology whom they admire.

I'm in San Francisco for the Game Developer's Conference right now, which is particularly appropriate since the woman I'm writing about today is Jane McGonigal.

What I love about Jane is that she's both geeky and cool, technical and social, brilliantly intellectual and endearingly goofy. Every talk I've ever heard her give has inspired me, most recently with her GDC talk last year on "Reality is Broken"--a talk that I have shamelessly stolen borrowed from in my own talks on "Libraries as Happiness Engines."

Jane's projects are many and legendary, from the delightful "Cruel 2 B Kind" to the inspirational Superstruct. Perhaps one of my favorite of her projects, though, is her cookie rolling, in which she is using cookies in cities across the world to slowly spell out the words of Albert Camus' classic essay The Myth of Sisyphus.

More than almost anyone else I know in technology today, Jane has the ability to get her message out not just to the digerati, but to a broader and not always technical audience. She's helping us all reimagine a world in which play can help us work, in which happiness plays a central role. What's not to love about that?

(I feel blessed that the hardest thing I had to do today was pick from the many wonderful women I know in technology--danah boyd, Lili Cheng, Linda Stone, AJ Kim, Mary Hodder, and so many more. Maybe it's time to resurrect, as a repository for stories about amazing women in tech...)

building a city-based alternate reality game


Last year, Jane McGonigal gave a wonderful talk at the 2008 New Yorker Conference on "Saving the World Through Game Design." Here at RIT, we're about to try to save a small piece of the world...specifically our local newspaper, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

Over the past few months, several RIT faculty and newspaper editors have been meeting together to start the planning of a city-wide alternate reality game (ARG) that will draw on the rich history of innovation and risk-taking here in the Rochester area. At the beginning of the year we worked with the amazing Elan Lee of Fourth Wall Studios to help kickstart our planning process, and this quarter I'm teaching a project class with 14 students who share my enthusiasm for generating the structure, content, and infrastructure of the game. Over the summer I'll be hiring some students to work on the final implementation, and the game is tentatively scheduled to run through September and October.

I can't share too many details of the game here, obviously, or we'll ruin the fun of it. But I can say that all of us at RIT and D&C who are working on it are really excited. We won't be saving the world, but I think we stand a pretty good chance of improving our little corner of it.

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