Tag Archives: Arlington Virginia

We live in Arlington

the view from our window

the view from our window

We live in Arlington,
We live in Arlington,
Right next to Washington, DC!

These lines come from a little song that our children learned when they were (at various times) in about second grade in Arlington Public Schools.  Our oldest child, Sarah, started public school Montessori at Hoffman-Boston School  in 1978. Our youngest child, Billy, graduated from Yorktown High School in 2005. So, you can see we spent a goodly amount of time in Arlington. There was a stint in Denver in the early 1980s and then in 2006 Tom and I moved to Charlottesville. There we gardened, we walked everywhere in town, we drove those back roads (Old Plank Road, Poorhouse Road, Hebron Church Road…), we listened to music, and we loved our neighbors. During this era, we did another stint in Denver and we also traveled many roads (55,000 miles’ worth) in our camper.

Now we have come back here, right next to Washington, DC. We plan on more road trips, from our new/old base of Arlington. Here, too, we will garden, we will walk, and we will listen to the music (Jazz last weekend). We will go to Shakespeare, lectures, museums, and hang out with our children and friends, whom we love.

Arlington, Virginia

Arlington, Virginia

Below are some of the things I like about Arlington.

Actually, I am struggling with this writing.  I want to tell you about how Sarah and Robert’s elementary school (Drew Model School)  was so big into process and project-based learning. I used to tell folk stories to the children and go on nature walks with them.  I remember how Billy loved to wear the monarch butterfly suit at Long Branch Nature Center. Also, I think about how years later, my friend and fellow teacher Donna and I would walk along the stream at Long Branch with the immigrant parents and their children. Dusk came and the bats started flying. I remember one of our teachers’ assistants, Dan. He was a young Vietnamese man and he would swing with the kids–like the child he almost was. When I think of those evenings, I want to cry for the loveliness of it.

birds outside our window

birds outside our window

frog in a Long Branch Pond

frog in a Long Branch pond

For the first several years in Arlington we didn’t have much money. However, even at the beginning, in 1978, we did have money for Brenner’s Bakery doughnuts (sadly defunct these many years) down the street.  Later on, mostly in the 1980s, kindly women would cluck over our children at Korean, Vietnamese, and Salvadoran restaurants and serve us delicious meals for a little bit of money. Many years later–in the late 1990s–my adult students from Bosnia, El Salvador, and Vietnam made food for Sarah and Mike’s wedding feast.*

I think I am working up to a more focused comment.  I loved and I do love the diversity of Arlington.  At the Arlington Education and Employment Program (REEP), I taught adult immigrants and refugees from over 80 countries.  Even now, when Arlington is much trendier than in the old days, I look out from my Starbucks table and see people from everywhere walk by on Clarendon Boulevard.

PHO 75, Arlington, VA

PHO 75, Arlington, VA

We live close to Washington, DC. Since Tom and I moved back here a little over a month ago, we have been jogging: Jogging past the Netherlands Carillon, past Arlington Cemetery, and along the Potomac River.  Sometimes we cross the Memorial Bridge–trotting straight towards the Lincoln Memorial, left past the Kennedy Center, on to Georgetown, and over the Key Bridge back home.  What can I say? I have a degree in political science and another in American Studies: I love being here.

Not even getting into the rest of the natural, cultural, and historical opportunities, but we love the Smithsonian Institution. We have been visiting the museums, the zoo, the gardens and the Folklife Festival non-stop for almost 40 years and we never get tired of it, and the price is still right.

musician outside of the Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC

musician outside of the Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC

After 9/11, we saw the Pentagon burning.  You have probably figured that I am not a big military type, but this was my home.  I cried for days. Later when Tom and I joined Arlington’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), every one of our instructors from the Arlington County Fire Department had been at the Pentagon after the attack. I am honored to have learned from these (and I never use this word lightly) heroes.

Rosslyn, Arlington, September 2017

Rosslyn, Arlington, September 2017

Enough! I love Milford, MI and Lake Superior; those red rocks and wild mountains of the west; Charlottesville and its funky music heart, but I am happy to be back home in Arlington.

Arlington County Fair

Arlington County Fair

community resources

community resources

Watergate: the Rosslyn Garage

Watergate: the Rosslyn Garage

Rosslyn cityscape

Rosslyn cityscape

rainbow from our balcony in Rosslyn, Arlington, VA

rainbow from our balcony in Rosslyn, Arlington, VA

*Also, our friend Sharon’s mom brought a Southern Maryland specialty, spinach-stuffed ham.

Refugees, Part I

It probably goes without saying that I am distressed and angry about the divisive words of the extreme political right wing. I could name names, but you know those already, so I won’t sully this page. I do wonder, though, if a visit to Minidoka National Historical Site on a cold and windy day (such as when Tom and I visited) might make some ugly talkers rethink their support for a particularly ethnocentric and stupid idea. Minidoka, one of 10 relocation centers created in 1942 by FDR, had a population of approximately 10,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese. Throughout the relocation system, 120,000 people were interned.

Minidoka #3

Minidoka #3

Although some of my friends, relatives, and coworkers have long known that I stand somewhat left of center on many issues, others of you reading this may not know that. Now, I mostly want to write about music, trees, hikes, and my memories of my family. I wanted to write this post about traveling on the Going-to-the-Sun road. Not now. For weeks, I have been putting off writing about refugees, but I can’t in good conscience wait any longer. So, instead of writing about walking on mountain trails and beside blue lakes, I have to sit here and cry while I try to figure out what to say.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a refugee. The closest I ever got to being an outcast was when my students and, I guess, the school administration thought I was a communist back in Page, Arizona forty years ago.

However, I have had the great honor to work with refugees from around the world. Although  I have discarded at least a ton of books and papers these last years, I have kept much (probably most) of the writing from the adult students. When I read the students’ words now, even after many years, I still feel the beating of their hearts.

The United States did not designate the Salvadorans as refugees, That’s a long story, but the thousands my school worked with were refugees according to  definition on the website of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR): “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” Here’s what one young Salvadoran man wrote:

I want to talk about my country, it’s El Salvador. I miss my family and my friends. I want to see my mama. Also, I am missing my farm. I am missing my horse, and cows, dog, but I want to live in this country because in my country, we have war.

Mostly, the Salvadorans didn’t talk to me about war. They just moved ahead with their lives. One woman—I’ve  forgotten her name, but not her—I taught in a family literacy class at an elementary school in Arlington, Virginia. In those classes, we were all moms and dads together and so things were shared that might not have been talked about in other venues. She talked about how they all slept on the floor because of the flying bullets. This woman let me see the residual pain behind her cheerful, can-do demeanor.  She and her family prospered in Arlington, as did the young man who had missed his horse and cows.

The woman who made me the golden and ever-blooming flowers (below) told me about her flight through the Cambodian jungle. I think she was the person who told me about burying her child on that journey. Forgive me, there are so many stories, they sometimes run together. I need to share the stories to help dispel the baseless fears that demagogues spread.

flowers

flowers

At my school, the Arlington Education and Employment Program (REEP), we were always working on projects of one sort or another to help figure out the best and most appropriate ways to teach adult immigrants and refugees. For one project, I interviewed a young Somali woman. She talked about how one day she went to the market and by the time she got back home, her home and her husband had been blown up.

When our school was preparing to receive a large group of Somali refugees, we were advised by human resources experts that it would be culturally inappropriate for a woman to shake hands with a Somali man. The first time a Somali man walked into our computer learning center, I walked up and enthusiastically shook his hand, as he did mine. He was in a new land and—enthusiastically—beginning to make a new life.

These refugees have lost so much and then they come here and share so much pain, yes, but  they also share their love and their hope with us.

One day I was sad in class because I was thinking of my mother and her cancer.  One young woman told me that she would “pray for your mother in the holy month of Ramadan.” Thank you.

So many stories: They are pictures I keep in my heart. I think I will stop for now.

However: I want to say, these adult students were so brave and strong. Unlike the fear-mongering stories promulgated by the extreme right wing, these people didn’t want to kill me. They made food for my family and me. I loved them and they loved me.

Bits of scripture still rattle around in my agnostic brain. Refugees are not the fiends those wicked people say. Refugees—at least until they get on their feet—are  the least of our brethren:

…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ (Matthew, Chapter 25, Bible, Revised Standard Version)

Merry Christmas