Sami Stevens, US Fellow
Having been raised in a monoculture, the decision to stay where you were born forever can feel like an act of loyalty and love. Why leave, when what’s familiar feels so much like what’s good?
There was Us, and then there were people From Away.
Outside of Maine, we heard of crime in the cities, of the racists down south, of lord knows what danger outside of the Greatest Country on Earth. A few young ones left to follow their dreams, while the rest winced, hoping them success, yet wondering why they thought themselves so special as to belong anywhere else.
This is how I grew up, and yet, I left, to become a singer in NYC.
Part of the reason I had faith that the world was bigger and more beautiful than what I had seen was the International High School I attended. Just down the road from my whole world, was another, slightly larger whole world. We were all still high school kids, but the stories we told were different.
Around this same time in my life, my community was stricken by tragedy. Without getting into too much detail, I [we] experienced losses that many never do, and in quick succession. As a teenager, I was persuaded that life is not just, and that there is no intrinsic meaning in anything, perspectives which I still hold to some degree. I realized that I was a product of my experiences as much as anyone else in the world, and that I could not exist above them. I sought basic truths, realities which persisted throughout cultures, to comfort me. In doing so, I learned openly about those around me. I learned that at our core, all people seek the same thing. We ask the same questions. We feel the same pain. It remains my belief that by sharing our perspectives, by learning about the people of the world, we can come closer to the truth, and that in truth there is comfort, understanding, and peace.
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