To the Editor:
This election season, a major topic of discussion is where to allow housing for guest workers serving the tourists who visit us. A vocal part of the electorate would like for them to be tucked away in employer sponsored enclaves, far away from the sensitive eyes and feelings of Bar Harbor’s good citizens. One family feels so strongly that they distributed a mailer at their own expense to every household urging us to vote their way on the forthcoming Land Use Ordinances.
I have a better idea. Let’s welcome them in! Let’s throw block parties in front of their temporary homes and invite them to join in. Bring on the hamburgers, hot dogs, blueberry pie, apple cobbler and homemade ginger ale punch. Introduce them to the finer points of lobster racing and quilt making. Let them hear some Downeast humor and Maine accents and Celtic fiddle playing. Give them an opportunity to share their talents on the sound stage. Share our stories with them and listen to theirs.
Put yourselves in their shoes for a moment. They’ve come to a strange land, thousands of miles from their own, to be among a people speaking a strange language, made stranger by weird accents and funny habits. They’ve done this out of a sense of adventure and with the hope of making some money to advance a life goal. Who among us has not hoped this for a child of our own? Who of us has not sent our sons or daughters into the great AWAY, hoping they will meet with kind words and wise counsel? How can we not offer this kindness to the children of parents on the other side of the world?
My wife and I know this works. Ten years ago, we welcomed an exchange student from a country of the former Soviet Union. He shared in everything we did, church and potlucks, concerts and school plays. We got up early to take him to track practice. We picked him up late after show choir. The following year, when he was back in Kazakhstan, one of his teachers went off on a rant about America, how evil it is and how badly it treats other countries. Vlad put up his hand and said calmly, “That has not been my experience.”
We can do better. We can BE better.