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“This Country Is the Country of Hope”

“This country is the country of hope.”

Antoine Peralta shared that conviction with us earlier this year, when we were talking with the rising high school senior about his elementary school days at the Partnership’s Our Lady Queen of Angels in East Harlem.

As we approach this Fourth of July, there is no better voice to explain what exactly we celebrate on this holiday than Antoine and his brother Emmanuel, who will be a sophomore next year at Xavier High School. And what they believe about the United States is inextricably linked to why their parents have sent them to Catholic schools.

“They came from Mexico,” Antoine explains, “around our age. They had to sacrifice education in order to sustain a living. And for them, it’s really important for us to go to school because they never got the chance to actually, fully attend school.”

Emmanuel agrees. “My mom tried to give us a better life, a better future, and tries to make our education much better.”

Their parents’ hope, and the effort they have put into making their aspirations a reality, have encountered significant systemic challenges—including neighborhood schools that they did not believe were putting their children on the path they envisioned. But because the Peraltas were able to access different school options, they are on their way to surmounting those systemic obstacles. And the boys are taking full advantage of the educational opportunities their parents did not have. “We’re making them proud,” Antoine explains with conviction.

The Peralta brothers’ hope isn’t just for themselves. “When we grow up,” Emmanuel explains, “not only we can have a good life, but also our children, and so on.”

“We are opening more doors, and we are actually moving towards a better future for us and for future generations that are coming after me and my brother,” Antoine adds.

When we named our network Partnership Schools, it was exactly the kind of collaboration the Peraltas are participating in that we had in mind. Each ingredient is essential for this American dream to come to fruition: the boys’ hard work; their parents’ efforts and ambitions; the expertise and nurture of schools that can turn hope into real opportunities; and the supporters who keep our schools open, thriving, and accessible for families like the Peraltas. So it’s not just these two hard-working, ambitious young men who give us hope; it is the communal effort around them, grounded in the noblest ideals of our nation and faith, proving that we truly are better together.

This Fourth of July, our hope at Partnership Schools is that all of us see the potential in our nation that the Peraltas do, and that we rededicate ourselves as a nation to kinds of civic collaboration that can keep the hope of young people like Antoine and Emmanuel growing.

You can watch the Peralta brothers share their thoughts here: