About Me

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I am a retired English teacher and department head, the mother of three, grand mother of three, and have been married to the same man for 42 years. I subscribe to Dr. PM Forni's concept of Civility. I was born in South Philadelphia and grew up in the 'burbs. I love soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, the Phillies, the Eagles, and San Diego. I love being Mom, Aunt Kathy, Nona Kathy, and Teacher. I spend a lot of time in my gardens in the spring and summer, and in the winter I plan what I'm going to plant. I also am an avid reader and photographer.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Twenty Five Years Later

My mentor teacher was a lovely woman.  She and her husband, knowing we had no family close by, included my new groom and I in her family's plans attending local oyster roasts or fairs.  We lived and I student taught in a rather conservative community, in the middle of what is known as the Pennsylvania Bible Belt where many belonged to evangelical-type churches.  This was not an integrated community -- in any sense of that word.  One was either white and Christian or -- well, there wasn't anything else.

When Mrs. E learned that I'd be moving to Baltimore County to teach in the public schools there, she was  upset.  She said she didn't know if she could ever live in an area  or teach in a school with so many who did not share her beliefs.

Her statement came back to me almost 25 years later when a friend with whom I'd attended school in suburban Philadelphia visited me at school and described the high school I was teaching in as the 'United Nations'.  (He would know as he had been an aide to Madeline Albright).   He'd never seen anything like it: kids and teachers, my friends, of every hue, nationality, and ethnic background walked the halls together.  Gays, straights, orthodox Jews, born again Christians and girls in veils all had learned to co-exist.   I take pride in the diversity of the community in which I live; I don't think I could be happy anywhere else.  My children, having been raised here, learned tolerance at an early age and now carry that idea to their own children.  This is normal to them.

I know this is not commonplace; that people tend to tribe with folk of the same ilk.  It's comforting and safe.  But, I think it's also dangerous as it perpetuates separatism and lack of understanding. 

15 comments:

Kimberly said...

LOVE this post!!

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

I agree. I have always enjoyed getting to know people with different beliefs and backgrounds. I think communities are becoming more diverse even those in rural areas such as where I live. Not everyone is accepting of those who are different, but as time goes by I believe the prejudices will decrease.

forsythia said...

Wonderful post. In today's world, we simply cannot afford to cut ourselves off from each other. The world is getting smaller and smaller. While some folks are dismayed by this, others--the luckier ones, I think--accept it and enjoy it. Heck, I remember a time when eating out at an authentic Italian restaurant was considered "exotic." Wow. No More.

The Vanilla Bean Baker said...

Great post Kathy. A lot prejudice is born out of fear, the rest out of ignorance. If every community took the time to get to know those in their surroundings, people of all social and ethic backgrounds before making a judgement would serve us all well.
(Just my opinion)

(GBS) NewsFromTheHill said...

Very true! Isn't it sad when people have such awful opinions of what they consider "groups". ... It just has to be born of not knowing anyone personally who thinks or looks differently from yourself.
Thanks for the meaningful post!

I'm With Stupid said...

Great post! Places with a lack of diversity are boring.

- Jay

Gilly said...

Kathy, I do so agree with you! The sort of insular attitude shown by the Bible Belt lady is so terribly wrong. How can we ever learn tolerance if we never share the lives (even if it is only in school or college) of those who are different from us in some way? Children learn their attitudes from their parents. If the parents won't mix, then the children won't, and that suspicious, insular attitude only promotes the assumption that all ******* (insert word of choice) are terrorists/layabouts/scroungers/demons.

Kathy - you are great!

Cheryl said...

It is a wonderfully diverse area we live and work in. Well said, Kathy (as usual)!

Mage said...

I lived for years down by the beach in a wonderful gathering of many colors. When we could afford to buy, it wasn't at the beach but a mile up in white bread land. I confess that I am sometimes embarrassed to tell folks this.

michiganme said...

Good post! I admit I have a prejudice against the overwhelming number of evangelical christians that I live among. I'm sure many of them are very nice but I never go out of my way to pursue friendships---though I put a lot of energy into tolerating them.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

This is a beautiful post, Kathy, and it's something that needs to be said more often in this polarized world of ours. Thanks.

Deblynne said...

I love living here too Thank you for reminding me of some of the reasons that I've come to take for granted

Beautiful picture at the top of your blog

Barb said...

How boring if you could only choose vanilla - or chocolate for that matter - different spices, different flavors give life some Oomph! Fearing differences seems a lack of confidence to me.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Interesting topic Kathy. I like to think of myself with a broad base of acquaintances and 'friends' who differ from me on every level- ethnicity, culturally, politically, religiously, etc. But I too, tend to keep my closest circle of friends more similar to me...it is comfortable!

Kay said...

I love this post, Kathy. I can so identify with it. We moved into our community in Chicago for the diversity. It was wonderful! I really do believe that if everybody lived in a mixed society, you could learn about each other and become tolerant and end up being more Christian or more Jewish or more Buddhist or what have you.

I think that's why I like blogging. You get to meet so many different people and share ideas.