Jennifer Miescke’s Run for Burma

OAS Girls Run the World
Jennifer Miescke, Louisville, Kentucky

In my experience as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, I have had the opportunity to teach many Burmese refugee students. They are some of the most kind, respectful, and hardworking students; their resilience is admirable. In an effort to give back to this community, I signed up for BHM’s Run for Burma, Marine Corps Marathon team to make a difference in the lives of people in rural Burma, but it is the generosity of the students at my school who have made a difference in my life.

My mom always told me, “Empathy is a verb, not an adjective.” The empathy put into action by the students at my school leaves me feeling optimistic for the future of this world. Last week, I hosted a fundraising competition at the school where I teach. The students raised $490! This is overwhelmingly generous, as I teach at a low-income, Title I school — 94% of our students receive free/reduced lunch. My school is beautifully diverse with 14% of our all-female student population being English language learners, many of whom are refugees from Burma, Somalia, and Iraq.

I’m humbled by the support I’ve received, not just for myself for the run, but for the people of Burma. An adorable Somali girl handed me a note last week that read, “I hope you receive just the right amount of money you need to save lives. I’m donating what I can. Love you. BURMA!” Her sweet note moved me to tears. She’s from Somalia, a place her family fled as refugees, much like the people of Burma. In this moment I realized that by running the Marine Corps Marathon for the Run for Burma team I’ve inspired a little world peace, even if it’s just within the walls of my school.

(This was sent by one of this year’s Run for Burma team members – we are humbled and honored to post it with her permission).