Stop seeing the differences

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I am a new faculty member at UMF and recently I attended a vigil organized by two of our students from Maine’s Somali community — an observance of the Oct. 17 bombing in Mogadishu. I did not go to the vigil because I knew the students (I don’t), or out of a sense of faculty obligation, or because I am some sort of do-gooder saint (hardly)..

Before UMF, I had been teaching as an adjunct in my native New Jersey. I have lived and worked most of my life in the amalgam of communities radiating out from Newark — the city where my immigrant grandparents settled.

Newark is still an immigrant gateway. Consequently, I have taught on some of the most racially and ethnically diversified campuses in the country. For all their differences, some of which are profound, the commonalities among my students are even more striking: the things that make them laugh, that make them sad, the things they dream of accomplishing. I long ago stopped seeing differences.

At the time I write this, a call for solidarity is going out at UMF as a response to an act of anti-Semitic vandalism on campus. That is why I went to the vigil, because the hate over there is the same as the hate here at home, and those two young ladies wept for their home as I am sure someone is weeping here.

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I long ago stopped seeing differences.

I wish more people would.

Bill Mesce Jr., Farmington

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