When Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz, Costa Rican-American astronaut, came to the University of Michigan for Space Day many years ago, I took my children to hear him speak.
With a name like Chang-Diaz, I was pretty sure he must be part Chinese, and I wanted my children to meet a multiracial Chinese-American astronaut so that they could see with their own eyes that it was possible.
A little embarrassed to be asking something so personal, we waited until after the Q&A, but he smiled when we asked, and he told us the story of how his grandfather had come to Costa Rica from China. There was something very sweet and intimate about that moment and, not surprisingly, his message to my children—third-generation, multiracial, bilingual, and part-Chinese like himself—was different than his message to everyone else. He emphasized the importance of understanding different cultures and languages when one is in space working with astronauts from other countries.
When Dr. Sally Ride came to town for her great Sally Ride Science Festival for Girls, we also went to meet her. Again, simply to let the children see with their own eyes that women could be astronauts if they wished, to hear a woman talk about the importance of math and science—and then let their imaginations take it from there.
I have been slow to respond to the Dicken Elementary School field trip controversy because I have been so perplexed by the anger in people’s reactions. Reading through the comments after every article about it has been so painful, so personal, that I can only read a few at a time. (click on link for more)
Why are people not more upset about the achievement gap than the field trip? - AnnArbor.com