Finkelstein comments: I received this email from a brilliant student of mine who came to the US from China in search of an education.


Dear professor,

 
Sorry I didn’t come to your classes this week – I’ve been going to the physical therapy and it’s exhausting. I do want to see you and talk to you very soon.
 
My life came to a halt after the surgery and it’s been the toughest time ever. I suspended my job and lost any income. My grandpa is terminally ill and I can’t go see him. My boyfriend is still working two jobs yet refuses to go to the doctor’s because he can’t afford it (I made him go today). One night I called him after the physical therapy, having to take two buses and walk a few blocks on one leg to buy groceries, worn and broken, and asked him “why do you have to take an extra shift tonight? It’s not your work schedule. Where are you when I need you?” I can’t stop crying. He said “you know why. Also I’m in excruciating stomach pain so I’m not debating with you.” “Why are you going to work when you’re in pain?!” There I was, crying in the street leaning on the crutches, for our poverty, my injury, his pain, my pain, my family, our future. I’m hopeless and helpless.
 
That was a quintessential scene of my life right now. All of my problems. How I was privileged before (and still am.) I didn’t know a life crushed by minimum wage, student debt, medical bills, and zero safety net. Now it’s my closest friend’s reality. I have Medicaid and my parents’ support for school. He’s got no one. I want to help him but unable to. I can’t wait to graduate, get a job, and support him so he can go to college too (he went to a trade school before) but now I had a surgery. And if I didn’t have insurance? I’d be dead, period. I’d go back to China (which is basically death to me). Or I could be one of millions who have medical debt and suffer for the rest of my life. I just got to see the bill today. The surgery alone was over $12,000 without insurance.
 
You can see why we desperately need Bernie to be our next president. That’s why I also wanted to talk to you about Super Tuesday but didn’t make it to the class tonight. I’m as mad and sad as all the Bernie supporters. And I decided to canvass for him after recovery. It’s life or death. People are dying. I don’t know why I came here in the first place. But now I have nowhere else to go. And I don’t want to be deported.
 
I want to talk to you in person soon. Everyone has to stay alive. I can’t take any sorrow anymore.
Much love,