United We Deam Congress 2016 – Tosin’s blog

The following blog is from Let Us Learn campaigner, Tosin Lawal. Here Tosin describes his experience at the United We Dream (UWD) national congress in Houston, Texas. Between June 10th and June 12th 2016, Tosin attended with four other Let Us Learners, and over 1000 ‘undocumented’ young people (often referred to as DREAMers) living in America. 

Early morning meet up at Holborn Station. But where’s Ije?……..

Today was the day we we would jet off for Houston, on our own! We were full of excitement as in few hours’ time we would be in another city in another country. I was nervous as I would be spending my time with people I usually only met fortnightly. But you know what? I was really looking forward to it and was getting myself ready for that Texan sun ?.

We met very early at Holborn station, so we knew we would have enough time. I say ‘we’ but one of us didn’t quite make it due to a small mishap. How do you leave home for a week long trip to America without taking any of your bags or travel things!?!?!?!

After a ten hour flight full of movies, looking at clouds out of the window and a little fainting drama, we finally landed in Houston. I saw the sun and was proper excited because it was raining back in the UK. I was going to catch some rays. Lawd, was I WRONG!! When we left the airport for our cab the heat consumed my whole body and it soon felt like I was back in Nigeria!

We made our way to the hotel and talked about how big everything was. After checking in and relaxing for a bit, we decided to head out to eat. We walked for like a good 20 mins in the hottest heat I have ever encountered before we came to realise we were on the wrong side of the highway! The Houston natives also knew we were tourists as WE WERE THE ONLY ONE’S WALKING ON THE PAVEMENT IN THE BAKING HEAT! ?.

We finally found a good Mexican restaurant and had delicious Mexican food, except for the demonic pepper from hell. We headed back, had a fun game of charades and called it a night.

 

 

Next day we headed out to help United We Dream prepare for their congress. After hailing a cab ride we had the problem of trying to come up with the right amount of tips for the services that we were being provided. We had no idea how to tip in the beginning so let’s say that some people got a lot of tips from us!

Over the next three days we attended congress and met some really inspirational people. Shoutouts to: DREAMers from all over the US, #Undocublacks, Tommy and his crew from Make the Road New York, plus many more who we met. Everyone was surprised we came all the way from the UK, I felt like a celeb. We attended amazing workshops and also took part in one which was daunting but went really well.

Best of all, we took part in a liberating, glorifying action with over one thousand DREAMers protesting against the harsh US immigration laws and deportation. We also watched a very emotional documentary featuring young people whose stories really moved me and everyone else. Not a dry eye in the viewing room. The glow sticks party and motivational closing ceremony were other high points (Shoutout to Justin and Juan!).

 

Dami, Tosin and Ije getting ready to march in their UWD tees

Afterwards we had some free time so we decided to spend a day at the mall near our hotel. We went shopping for our families, friends and ourselves. Hope y’all appreciate our gifts! This trip has made me think me about independence as it is my first ever trip without an adult supervising. I totally enjoyed myself and it proves to me that I will be able to look after myself and those around me when I do eventually set off for university.

 

By Tosin Lawal