Meet Andom Ghebreghiorgis
As a child growing up in Mount Vernon, NY, I was surrounded by conversations about revolution, solidarity, democracy, and freedom.
My parents immigrated to the US in the early 1970s from Eritrea (then part of Ethiopia), and they immediately became active organizers with other Eritrean students in North America struggling for independence in their native land. In 1993, Eritrea achieved independence, and I can still remember the euphoric optimism of my parents and the diaspora. That hope dissipated in the late ‘90s when Eritrea and Ethiopia went to war. I was very much a NY kid – more interested in Patrick Ewing than politics abroad – but the reality of war hit me acutely. Cousins' deaths were reported over muddled long-distance phone calls, and families were changed forever.
My opposition to unnecessary and illegal war is a product of its unfortunate fixture in my family’s history and US history. When I was a high school senior at Fieldston, America invaded Iraq, and I, along with millions of other Americans, quickly became active voices in a growing anti-war movement. I have remained steadfast in opposition to US aggression abroad, to the military aid given to oppressive regimes, to the subsidizing of US military contractors profiting off war, and to the continuing devaluing of lives of color at home and abroad.
Since I was in high school, the US government has spent nearly $6 trillion on foreign wars. Over that time period, wages have stagnated, healthcare and housing have become more expensive, and the dangers of the climate crisis have become more apparent. I have seen how low-income communities of color are disproportionately affected by America’s economic challenges. We need to be divesting from the military industrial complex and investing in needed social programs at home; the diversity of the schools I have attended and worked in have reinforced this belief.
I went to Lincoln Elementary (an integrated, public K-6 in Mount Vernon) before going to Fieldston (an affluent, almost exclusively white private school in Riverdale) for middle and high school. I graduated from Yale with degrees in Political Science and Economics, and I received my Master’s from City College of NY in Secondary Special Education through the NYC Teaching Fellows Program. As a teacher, I worked at a public school in the Bronx (Williams Bridge) that was plagued by violence and poor performance before working at The Equity Project, a middle school in Washington Heights that had a restorative justice model, invested in a dedicated social worker for each grade, and had a no-student-expulsion policy. I have observed classrooms in countless NYC-area schools, and I affirm that every student is entitled to a free, high-quality public education from pre-K through higher education. What kind of resources would all of our students have access to if we never invaded Iraq, and we fully funded our public schools?