Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

11-year-old wins national writing contest on immigrants

Cameron Busby wants to be a horror writer when he grows up, and he relied on some of his friends’ true life horror stories to write a poem that won the 12th annual national “Why I Am Glad America Is a Nation of Immigrants” creative writing contest.

The 11-year-old from Whitmore Elementary beat out thousands of entrants from across the nation to win.

Now, his poem will be printed in the Congressional Record. And he’ll get an all-expenses-paid trip for four to Vancouver, where he’ll recite his poem at the American Immigration Law Foundation’s annual benefit dinner.

“In a time where xenophobia continues to spread throughout the United States, these young children can teach many Americans important lessons of tolerance and acceptance,” said Maurice Goldman, chairman of Arizona’s chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

That group and the American Immigration Law Foundation sponsored the contest, said Goldman, who was “overwhelmed by the profound insight, humor and optimism” of the entries.

Cameron and seven other Tucson students plus two from Phoenix will be honored at a luncheon Friday at El Parador Restaurant, 2744 E. Broadway, where they will receive gift certificates to Barnes & Noble bookstore.

Other local winners in the state contest were: Aalin Murrieta, Brian Noriega, Yamilex Carino and Eric DaWalt from Grijalva Elementary and Skyler Conner, Emilia Steigert and Stephanie Tineo from Butterfield Elmentary.

Cameron’s poem was judged the winner by authors Dave Eggers and Gish Jen, author and activist Mary Williams and U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.

The most exciting thing about winning a national writing contest is “knowing that I’m on my way because when I grow up I want to be a horror story writer,” Cameron said.

“Some of the things in my poem are real life horrors,” he said. “I have friends from Lebanon, Korea and Germany. And the friend from Germany has parents who came there from Bosnia, trying to get away from war. They told me some terrifying stories.”

Cameron said he also relied on things he saw in movies and on the news to paint different pictures in each stanza of his poem.

“I talked with an author, Jennifer Ward, and she said, ‘Show, don’t tell,’ ” he said.

Cameron said he truly believes America is a refuge, even for some of his own relatives, adding, “My great-grandmother was from Mexico and she immigrated here.”


By Cameron Busby
A small child holds out a hoping hand,

a crumb of bread,

or even a penny just to be fed

Hoping America is a refuge.

A child weeps over her mother’s lifeless body,

the tears streaming down her face

Praying America is a refuge.

A child’s torn sock blows in the wind,

as a bomb explodes the tiny sock catches a flame and begins to

burn to ash

Can America be a refuge?

A thirsty father and son seeking shade from the blazing sun,

all they want is a job

and for America to be a refuge.

America can be a refuge for you.

It can be a refuge for me.

I am glad that America is a refuge for all.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

Search site | Terms of service