Graduating During a Pandemic
Even during COVID-19 graduation is still exciting! Although Menlo-Atherton was not able to host an in person graduation, and MERO was not able to host our end of the year BBQ, we were still excited to celebrate our large group of MERO high school graduates from afar!
This year seven of our MERO alumni graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School! This group of grads is hard working, persistent, and thoughtful, and they are ready to make a difference in the world around them. Three of our graduates are enrolled in and planning to attend college in the fall! Most of the other students are hoping to attend college or job training, and Tyler and I will be working over the summer to help them register if that is what they decide they would like to do.
This special group of grads has overcome so many obstacles to get to where they are today. Not only have they all had to learn a new language and adapt to a new country, they also had the added challenge of finishing off their senior year in the midst of a global pandemic. Through spotty internet access, working to support their families, and helping siblings with homework, these grads worked so hard to graduate and deserve to be celebrated. Congratulations 2020 graduates- we are so proud of you.
Marco's carefully decorated graduation cap! Marco is hoping to study architecture. He is also the designer of our MERO 2018 program T-shirt!
Jack throws his graduation cap while taking pictures in front of the school. Jack participated in MERO 2017 and was our student coordinator in 2019. We know that he will go on to do great things!
As an organization that serves immigrants, we at MERO think a lot about borders – lines on a map which determine our language, our nationality, our access to opportunity. These lines are all around us, and in our community no border is more obvious or divisive than Highway 101. This interstate highway, built decades ago through the heart of what was once downtown East Palo Alto, divides the affluent and largely white towns of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Atherton, from the poorer, largely black and brown communities of East Palo Alto and Belle Haven. Separate and unequal. Yesterday, Highway 101’s eight lanes of traffic came to a sudden halt as protestors blocked the road, demanding justice for George Floyd and changes to a government that has systematically oppressed African Americans and people of color throughout its history.
The tragic events of recent weeks – from the lack of justice for a murdered black jogger in Georgia, to a white woman calling the police on a black man birding in Central Park, to the complete lack of humanity shown towards George Floyd in Minneapolis – are symptoms of our society’s pervasive inequalities and racism. We cannot count the number of times a MERO student has come to us and recounted horrific experiences of racial violence. We have wept in anger and in sadness, perhaps never more so than when a student shares their experiences as a simple matter-of-fact, as if someone throwing a milkshake at you and telling you to get out of this country were something normal.
At this critical juncture in history, we as allies must step up and hold ourselves and our leaders accountable. How can we support a more inclusive, just, and equitable society? How can we elevate the voices of people who for too long have been downtrodden and treated as less than human? How can we create a society that truly values every one of its members, regardless of the color of their skin or the language they speak? These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves, not just today, but tomorrow, and the next day, and every day after that. At MERO we are committed to providing a safe place for our students, to advocating on their behalf, and to building a more just society one interaction at a time. Not only because it is part of our mission, but because it is right. We support and join the protestors in their calls for justice. Black Lives Matter.
Welcome to El Mero Mero, the official blog of Menlo-Atherton Ecology Research Outdoors (MERO). Founded in 2017, MERO is a free, after-school environmental education program for high school English Language Learners that gets students outside doing ecology. El Mero Mero is Spanish for "the best" or "legit", which is exactly the kind of science we do in the MERO program!