American Dream Fellow 2015 – 2016
October unfolds here in Arkansas and my Vermonter roots are surprised by a few things. For one, I still get to experience my favorite season in this southern corner of the country, with Fall arriving in all the expected reds and golds of trees in transition. It makes me feel at home in a place I’ve really just barely arrived. Which leads me to surprise number two: the force with which this community has welcomed me in and settled me down and forced me to realize how impossible it was to anticipate what I would find here as an American Dream Fellow.
It seems only fair to share with you all who are not a daily part of this community what life looks like here. Northwest Arkansas is:
Over three hundred people gathered in a community pavilion to eat Mexican Food and clap along as a group of Marshallese youth perform traditional dances before breaking into a popular hip-hop number at National Welcoming Week.
A room full of Marshallese and Spanish speaking volunteers, preparing to serve as interpreters at Parent-Teacher Conferences in the region’s increasingly diverse school districts.
A dinner at the University of Arkansas on Indigenous People’s Day with Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, one of the greatest leaders of our time for social justice and indigenous rights. She reminds us all that “the most important thing, wherever we are in the world, is our humanity.”
These moments, and many more, have become my Northwest Arkansas. It’s humbling to be consistently confronted with the power of what I didn’t know – couldn’t have known – before arriving in this community and becoming a part of the work of the Cisneros Center. Now I get to look forward to many more months of surprises, some hard-earned, and some wonderfully gifted to me.
Posted on 10/13/2015 at 12:00:00 AM