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April 11, 2024

  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
  • Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg
    Indie bookstore, Gathering Volumes, just hosted poet and (transgender) activist, Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility, Minney read from her poetry book – A Woman in Progress (2024). Her reading depicted emotional and physical transformations especially in the scene of womanhood and queer experiences. Her language is empowering and personally […]
Spring Housing Guide

A lesson learned from Kyrgyzstan

By Jason Lamb

Opinion Columnist

While on a trip to New York City, I met a woman from the central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan who is studying international marketing and economics in the United States. We began to talk about the differences between our two countries. Kyrgyzstan, she said, has great natural resources and many products to sell, yet the country is impoverished because few people have the skills to find an international market for those goods. But in the United States, she said, there is great opportunity to become anything one desires.

Surprisingly, she is not an international marketing student because it is what she loves. She is an international marketing student because that’s what her country needs right now. She said she wanted to develop the skills that would allow her to better the lives of those in her homeland.

On the contrary, most Americans don’t have to think about this. We have issues, but the system as it stands seems to fix most problems. We come to college to find our place in that system, not to change it.

The University certainly would change if we all had this woman’s approach. What would our majors be if we came to college with the goal of fixing America’s problems? Given the general economic dominance of the United States and the people in it, who are able to go to college? In fact, very few of us would be in business administration or finance.

We are remarkably privileged by simple virtue of our being university students in the United States, and that privilege often blinds us. We do not have to feel personally responsible for the problems of the world if we don’t want that burden. We can go about our relatively happy lives, thinking about where our apathy comes from while never quite figuring it out.

This is not to say we don’t have problems, but from an elevated position of power, these things can seem far away. We must recognize that our silence makes us complicit. Our wealth only means something because of a lack of which somewhere else. Power can only exist if others are powerless.

If the United States really stands for freedom and democracy everywhere, we have to give those things up. The people of the nations that have been impoverished by the United States are living lives of quiet or sometimes explosively loud desperation. Maybe the first step toward improving our own communities is to make them a little more like Kyrgyzstan.

We need to take a step back and decide what we really need to be happy, then work toward that goal with all the dedication of students coming to this country to improve their nations. We need to be willing to seek out new experiences and ways of living, learn from them and then return the lessons they provide to the places where we live.

Life can be better for everyone on the planet, but eventually it comes down to either the United States giving up some power or another country or countries taking it from us. We can blend now or blend later; therefore, let us blend now.

We should take a lesson from those students who come to the United States in hopes of improving the lives of those they leave behind. The things we learn may surprise us and cause us to look at our own country differently. We should take the opportunity to change the way we live before the way we live is changed for us.

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