A Dream Un-deferred
East Fayette Street, August 16, 2012
“He vivido en Estados Unidos de América salir por mas de seis meses des del el 15 de junio de 2007?,” (Have you lived in the U.S. since 2007 without leaving for more than six months?) Gustavo Andrade, megaphone in hand, asks several hundred Latino students and young adults outside East Baltimore’s CASA de Maryland.
Andrade then asks those in line if they have a high-school diploma, GED, or are enrolled in school or a career-training program. Finally, “Estuve presente en EE.UU. el 15 de junio de 2012?” (Were you present in the United States June 15, 2012?)
That last day, June 15, is significant because it’s the day President Obama signed the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrival executive order. The directive allows—albeit with many stipulations—young immigrants brought here by their parents and facing possible deportation to apply for a temporary work permit.
Nineteen-year-old Diana Garcia, who came to Maryland from Mexico a decade ago with her mother, is a CASA volunteer and one of those seeking to apply (cost: $465) for the two-year “deferred action” deportation reprieve. Bright, attractive, and bilingual, she graduated from Annapolis’s Broadneck High School in 2011.
Currently, she’s employed at a gas station whose name she’s afraid to reveal. “If I can drive, work legally, I can get a better job,” Garcia says. “Then maybe I can afford in-state tuition.”
She wants to study medicine and become a holistic health practitioner. “I didn’t understand when I was little that I was illegal,” she says. “It wasn’t until high school when my friends started to drive and get jobs, which I couldn’t, that I began to realize I probably couldn’t go to college, either. You’re really happy watching all these good things happen for your friends, you truly are, but at the same time, it’s really hard.”
Inner Harbor, August 18, 2012
Beneath the giant Giganotosaurus in the Maryland Science Center lobby, 7-year-old Rainer Marquardt-Demen steps to the starting line of the obstacle course, pinewood-derby car in one hand, big round magnet in the other. Before Rainer, many of the kids (or truthfully, dads) struggle to get their derby cars through the 25-foot course, which includes a speed bump, sand trap, and Astro turf.
A third-grader at Charles Village’s Margaret Brent Elementary, Rainer ties a battery-powered motor to the front and rear axles with rubber bands. Signaled by the official announcer, he places his pinewood car on the track, steps behind with his big magnet—and steadily pushes his zero-emissions vehicle to the finished line without ever touching it. Success.
Named the Green Prix, playing on the Labor Day IndyCar spectacle, the first-time event sells out with 50 kids registering. The challenge, of course, is creating a pinewood-derby car powered by alternative energy.
Judges award Rainer the “most scientifically inspired” trophy—a glass beaker burbling with faux toxic liquid. “He’s told me since he was four that he wanted to be a scientist,” his mom says. “When he turned six and he was still saying it, I believed him.”
Asked about the slightly menacing toy person sitting in the LEGO-built driver’s seat of his derby car, Rainer says, “It’s a robber.”
So this is his getaway car?
Golden Iron Girl
Centennial Lake, Ellicott City, August 19, 2012
Adjusting her goggles and Day-Glo yellow cap, 67-year-old Marge Burley jumps into Centennial Lake at exactly 6:58 a.m. on a cool Sunday morning. Nearby, treading water momentarily, are a few other women her age, a bunch more in their mid- and late-50s—and 68 teenage girls. They’re competing in the Seventh Annual Athleta Irongirl Columbia Triathlon—a .62-mile swim, 17.5-mile bike, and 3.3-mile run rolled into one race.
Women from 25 states, including 36 mothers and daughters, are competing with Burley, entering the water in six-minute age-group waves. Because they are two of the smaller age groups, the over-55 crowd and teenagers are paired together.
Burley, with a son and daughter, 49 and 47, respectively, isn’t the quickest out of the water in her wave, but close. Then, over a hilly course, she reels in any and all teenagers ahead of her. During the run, a single teenager passes Burley, who works at the Pikesville accounting firm Berkowitz & Shramko. She finishes 38th overall out of 1,554 competitors.
The only woman in Burley’s starting wave placing ahead of her is 56-year-old Christa Eppinghaus of Towson, who finishes 17th overall. A couple of years ago, they finished here together. Now, Eppinghaus waits for Burley to run in. They hug, chat about how things went, and then decide to take advantage of some free, post-race muscle therapy. “Let’s go get a massage, Marge,” Eppinghaus says, smiling.