Editorial: Diversity Growing

Editorial: Diversity Growing

Tune in to our series on immigration.

This week, the Connection kicks off a series about immigration, diversity and the growing population of foreign-born residents in Fairfax County. County reporter Victoria Ross opens with a story that captures vignettes and statistics of the changing population.

It is a topic consistent with the original Thanksgiving story.

More than 28 percent of Fairfax County's population is foreign born; that's 317,000 residents.

Consider Yesuf Beshir from Ethiopia, who two years ago settled in Springfield and now works for a government contractor. In May, he became an American citizen. “The main thing here is democracy, the right to vote,” Beshir said.

These residents include nearly 20,000 who are self-employed business owners, who truly job creators, large and small. One of these is Shami Walia who emigrated from India in 1982, and now owns Burke Cigar Shop, a popular cigar lounge that's become a neighborhood fixture. One part of our series will look at the business impacts of the foreign-born population.

Fairfax County Public Schools are harbingers of change: 38,760 Fairfax County elementary school students, that is 44 percent of all elementary school students in public schools here, spoke a language other than English at home as of May 2009. And between them, they speak more than 100 different languages. Another part of our series will look at the challenges and opportunities in Fairfax County Public Schools.

Consider Hutchison Elementary in Herndon, where 63 percent of students have limited English. And Crestwood Elementary in Springfield, where 68 percent of students have limited English. At Lynbrook Elementary, also in Springfield, 74 percent of students have limited English. At Mount Vernon Woods, in Mount Vernon, 52 percent of students have limited English. At Dogwood Elementary in Reston, 56 percent of students have limited English.

Tune in and let us know what you think.

You can submit a letter to the editor at http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/contact/letter/.

Be Part of Children's Connection

During the last week of each year, The Connection devotes its entire issue to the creativity of local students and children. The results are always remarkable. It is a keepsake edition for many families.

We publish artwork, poetry, essays, creative writing, opinion pieces, short stories, photography, photos of sculpture or gardens or other creative efforts.

We ask that all submissions be digital so they can be sent through email or delivered on CD or flash drive. Writing should be submitted in rich text format (.rtf). Artwork should be photographed or scanned and provided in jpeg format.

Identify each piece of writing or art, including the student's full name, age, grade and town of residence, plus the name of the school, name of teacher and town of school location. Please provide the submissions by Monday, Dec. 3.

Some suggestions:

Drawings or paintings or photographs of your family, friends, pets or some favorite activity. These should be photographed or scanned and submitted in jpeg format.

Short answers (50 to 100 words) to some of the following questions: If you could give your parents any gift that didn't cost money what would that gift be? What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming year? What is one thing that you would change about school? What do you want to be when you grow up? What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite toy? What makes a good parent? What makes a good friend? What is the best or worst thing that ever happened to you? What is the best gift you've ever given? Ever received?

Your opinion (50 to 100 words) about traffic, sports, restaurants, video games, toys, trends, etc.

Poetry or other creative writing.

Opinion pieces about family, friends, movies, traffic, sports, food, video games, toys, trends, etc.

News stories from school newspapers.

We welcome contributions from families, public and private schools, individuals and homeschoolers.

Email submissions for the Vienna/Oakton, McLean, Great Falls, Reston and Oak Hill/Herndon Children's Connections to kemal@connectionnewspapers.com.

Email submissions for Springfield, Burke, Fairfax, Fairfax Station/Clifton/Lorton Connections to South@Connectionnewspapers.com.

To send CDs or flash drives containing artwork and typed, electronic submissions, mark them clearly by school and hometown and mail the CD to Children's Connection, 1606 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Please send all submissions by Dec. 3. The Children's Connection will publish the week of Dec. 27, 2012.