Monday, June 19, 2017

#170 / Welcome To All

Yesterday, I attended the graduation exercises for Crown College at the University of California, Santa Cruz. John Laird, former Santa Cruz City Mayor, former State Assembly Member, and current Secretary for Natural Resources of the State of California, gave the commencement address. John celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Crown College, and gave graduate students both practical advice (begin saving for retirement now) and called them to political action (the global warming crisis we confront is "existential," and we must respond). 

It was a day of real celebration, sobered by an understanding, by all who took part, that the challenges ahead are daunting.

For me, one of the most moving parts of the ceremony was the "Multilingual Welcome" provided by Crown College graduating students:

Aykezar Adil welcomed those in attendance in Uyghur.
Kimberly Amy Gee welcomed attendees in Cantonese.
Study Thao provided a welcome in Hmong.
Keuren Parra Moreno provided a welcome in Spanish.
Julianne Pham spoke in Vietnamese for her welcome.
Arian Rahbar welcomed everyone in Persian.
Chelsea Walker's welcome was in American Sign Language.

Yesterday, there was a welcome for all. 
That welcome message was clear. 
There is a welcome for all, in America,
Because all are welcome here!

How different that message was than the welcome event I read about in an article in this morning's New York Times. In Willard, Ohio, the Chamber of Commerce was planning a welcome-back party for the migrants who come to Willard each summer to plant, and weed, and harvest crops. Protests, which The Times said were related to "the vigorous national debate over illegal immigration that brought President Trump to office," led to the cancellation of that celebration.

The future, we must hope, was revealed more clearly by students in Santa Cruz, California than by the disgruntled residents of that Ohio town. Willard has failed to understand, it seems, what the UCSC students know so well: we are in this life together! The Times' article made it pretty clear: "Without the Hispanic labor force, we wouldn't be able to grow crops, said Ben Wiers, a great-grandson of the pioneer Henry Wiers, who fought five acres here in 1896."

Or, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

Image Credit:
Gary A. Patton, personal photo

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