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Maquoketa youth summit discusses diversity, immigration during trying times

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MAQUOKETA, Iowa - High school students are learning how to embrace diversity during national struggles over immigration policy.

"Seeing everyone breaking into these divisions is tearing me apart personally," said Brittanie Davis, 16, a junior at Maquoketa High.

Inside the Jackson County Fairgrounds on February 6, 2017, there are drum beats for diversity and differences.

For South African speaker Seth Naicker, drum beats for decisions.

"For them to think more clearly about themselves, other people, and especially, the environment," he said.

Nearly 100 high school students learn how past racial divisions like Apartheid influence the drum beat on immigration to America.

"With the wall and everything, it's kind of getting out of control," said Creana Farley, a junior at Bettendorf High.  "It could be a difficult switch-over."

Teenagers are experiencing this battle over borders and fight for freedom.  They're searching for clarity during confusing times.

"I think everyone's opinion is important," said Alyssa Perales, a junior at Bettendorf High.  "But we all need to have the same vision of making the world a better place."

By sharing their own differences, they're finding similarities.

Naicker, who grew up during deep divisions in South Africa, hopes it's a model for growth.

"I can share my story," he continued.  "That, hopefully, will create an understanding between two people."

At this student summit, diversity makes life richer.

"We may all be different," said Xavier Pestana, a junior at Maquoketa High.  "But we are all humans at the end of the day."

For these students, it's a lasting drum beat for their destiny.