Breakthrough Twin Cities wishes you a very happy Fourth of July! Independence Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the values we all hold as Americans. It is also a chance to consider the diverse set of experiences each of us has had. Many Breakthrough students are first-generation Americans. Their families came to the US seeking freedom, justice, and educational opportunities. Breakthrough is proud to have these students and families as part of our community.

We would like to highlight two of our accomplished Breakthrough students who are first-generation Americans. Lay Lay and Let Let are twin sisters who were born in a Thai refugee camp after their parents fled their war-torn home country of Burma. In 2009, when they were seven years old, Lay Lay and Let Let immigrated with their family to the US to begin a new life in a land of opportunity.

Lay Lay and Let Let exemplify what Breakthrough is all about! They are academically accomplished, emotionally aware, socially mature, and heavily involved in their communities and extracurricular activities. These resilient teenagers have learned to navigate and thrive in a new country and also serve as advocates for themselves and champions for their families.

Like so many young immigrants, Lay Lay and Let Let faced the challenges of learning English, a crucial skill in their immigration journey. With zeal to master English, they have both immersed themselves in Breakthrough’s writing intensive courses—each attending 120 hours of instruction over the past three summers. Their efforts culminated in a personal narrative essay capstone project for the Breakthrough Leaders program.

While we are happy that Lay Lay and Let Let have adjusted so well and are a part of the Breakthrough community, we want to acknowledge their feelings about their native country. Lay Lay and Let Let lament the lack of visibility that their native country’s civil war has garnered on the world stage. Moreover, they fear the Karen people and culture will vanish. They are committed to preserving the rich traditions of their heritage and are active with their family in the Karen Cultural Organization of Minnesota.

We recognize the tremendous accomplishments of these two young women and all of our immigrant students and their families. It takes determination and resiliency to adapt to a new life in a new country, and we are grateful to have people with these qualities in our program. We will continue to ensure that our immigrant students and their families are welcomed, valued, and supported on their path to academic achievement.

Have a great Fourth of July everyone!

Breakthrough Twin Cities

2051 Larpenteur Ave E, Saint Paul, MN 55109, USA