let us talk about humans

Hello all! Let us now talk about being human.

Story Time.

The year is 1929, a young woman named Elizabeth traveled from her home in Germany to the United States of America.  She left behind her family, her friends, and the memories of her fiancé who had been killed during WWI.  Everything she owned was placed in a single wooden trunk.  In her bag was a letter from a man in Nebraska who was seeking a German wife.  Elizabeth was also seeking a new life for herself – one away from the dangers rising in her home country.

As it turns out, the man in Nebraska had already found a wife by the time Elizabeth arrived in New York.  She moved to Chicago and worked as a nurse and housemaid.  An honest job for a clever, independant woman with limited English.  That was were Elizabeth met Herman, another German immigrant who received his citizenship in 1933.  The two were wed moved to Kansas where they had two daughters – Annie and Sue.

In 1952, Sue married Clete.  In 1958, the couple had their first son, Mark, in England while the couple was stationed there with the US Air Force .  Back in Kansas, in 1961, their second son was born, Scott – my dad.

My great-grandmother arrived in the United States with nothing to her name but hope of a better future than the one currently unfolding in Hitler’s Germany… and through the kindness of the Americans she met along the way – I am here able to write this now.

Wednesday was Burns’ Night, the annual Scottish Holiday for celebrating Robert Burns.  Burns was a famous Romantic Scottish poet who wrote frequently about his love of the Highlands was an inspiration to later writers such as Walter Scott.  It is traditional to eat haggis with neeps and tatties to celebrate.  And so, my friends and I gathered together for a feast.  My friend Ali, from St Andrews, memorized Burns’ ‘Address to the Haggis’ and recited it with great gusto and ceremonially split the haggis with an ice axe (we are mountaineers after all).  We toasted each other, friends from across the planet, with whiskey.

Saturday was Lunar New Year, the annual Chinese festival to celebrate the coming of the new year.  Again, my friends and I gathered together for a feast of noodles and dumplings and rice.  Our hosts were Chris and Jingjie from Hong Kong and Singapore respectively.  We gathered to exchange well wishes and hopes for the new year with toasts of sake.

Everyday in the flat these thing occur: Gregor complains about the English but then is reminded that many of his friends are English.  Tuva and Erling talk rapidly in Norwegian and I am only left to infer they are talking about their love of herring.  I use a farming or baseball metaphor.  We all sit down for a nice dinner.

In summary: Different cultures are beautiful.  My friends from all over the world are amazing and I love them all dearly.

And now, history repeats itself as Donald Trump attempted to ban people from seven Muslim nations totaling to 130 million people.  Refugees landing at JFK Airport, who had thought they had finally made it free, were confronted with the reality that they were arriving in a hostile nation.  Parents seeking a new future for their children have been told despite the days, months, years of waiting for legal visas – they are not welcome.

Trump based this ban through a hastily written and cowardly executive order – ‘Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.’  The order reeks of xenophobia and Islamophobia.  It lumps thousands of people together for the actions of a few.  Socially, it is dangerous and created out a fear of the unknown.  Politically, Trump has made it clear that to him all Muslims are the same.  Which is ridiculous and ignorant considering most Americans are able to separate the KKK or the Westboro Baptist Church from Christianity but are somehow incapable of separating ISOL from Islam.

Oh, and FYI: We are only nine days into Donald Trump’s presidency.

But – the America I know came out and showed the world we will not blindly follow in his hate.  Within hours, protestors had congregated at the airports the refugees were being detained and stood together in solidarity.  Lawyers went to work and the ban was declared rightfully unconstitutional for those who had already arrived in America and for those in transit with valid visas.  This saved those currently being detained in airports… but what about the rest?  Additionally, the ban did not just affect refugees, it affected Green Card holders who are currently abroad as well as people arriving in the US for business such as a  vet from Glasgow who holds an Iranian passport.

How can the President of the United States, the so called ‘Leader of the Free World,’ have so little empathy and compassion for those in need?  We want to lead but we are afraid of stepping up to the plate and educating ourselves about real issues.

History is not kind.  Those in congress who stood by and did nothing will be remembered as the cowards they are.

But – again, for the people in the back, over the nine days I have seen the American people step up to the plate when our ‘political leaders’ have struck out.  The displays of love and solidarity across America make me wish just a bit that I was there to stand along side you all… instead of writing this on my blog.

I am so proud of my friends who are standing up against this and standing with each other.  I know together we can get through this.  For my Canadian friends – thank you for stepping up when American could not.  And for my Scottish friends – thank you for being there in solidarity.  And my German friends – hats off to you too.

So please, when you’re reading this think of something you can do to make a difference – even a small one.

Educate yourself.  Stop spreading clickbait and false news.  Listen to three or four different sources before making a snap judgment.

Attend a march or peaceful protest! Sign a petition!

Call or write to your legislators. Here’s for Kansas. Here’s for The House of Representatives. Here’s for the Senate.  I know emailing politicians may feel like a dead end, the number of times I’ve tried to contact them and received only an automated response is high… but once we decide our voice is never going to be heard is the day we become complacent.

Donate to organisations like the ACLU whose lawyers are currently working pro-bono to help those currently detained in airports.

Listen to those who are speaking and stand beside them. Simply listening and understanding a different point of view can make the world a better place.  Our current crisis stems from fear.

Keep talking. Post on social media, have conversations with people.  Politics isn’t a mum subject.

We are all human and, to be honest, we aren’t all that different.  My great-grandmother was able to restart her life here in America.  It is basic human dignity that we extend this chance to refugees fleeing their countries in the same light Elizabeth fled hers.

And seriously, it’s getting fucking exhausting trying to explain this to people.

 

 

 

 

Why I’m Still 110% With Her

 

I watched the election since 9 pm last night until I went to my 9 am tutorial this morning.  I slept less than five minutes.

This morning was one of those moments when the world just stopped and slowed.  It took me a few minutes to process what had happened. America you threw a nasty punch this morning, it knocked a lot of us down. I know it knocked me down.  I physically couldn’t breath.  I couldn’t comprehend what had happened.

I was confused and lost and scared.  I panicked.  I sobbed.  It was awful.  I felt like my country didn’t care about me at all.

But, I had class at 9 am. Drying my eyes, I grabbed my backpack and walked to class.  The election knocked me down, but I refused to prevent it from keeping me from getting back up.

We have to remember Hillary’s ideas didn’t die with this election.

We’ve got to get up and keep fighting for change. We might have been defeated here but we only fail if we give up. Failure is what happens when you stop trying.  Defeat is just a growing pain of progress.

We can’t stay down.  You can cry.  I cried.  But, complaining and blaming won’t do a thing now.  We’ve got to get back up and study harder and work harder.  We have to remember what Hillary stands for, what Bernie stands for, what Obama stands.  The only way things will ever change is if we keep talking, keep writing, keep loud.  We have to move on from this election with elegance and with poise.  Most of all, we have to move on from this election with hope.

I’m upset.  But, I’m not going to let those emotions turn into despair and sadness.  I’m going to turn it into motivation, because I know this isn’t over.  I’m going to get the best education I can.  I got my first essay back for the year and I got a 75 mark on it.  That’s solidly in the First category.  I was pretty proud but I know I can’t let up now.  I’m going to keep writing this stupid blog in case it makes even a sliver of a difference.  I’m not going to lose hope for the America I know.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: this isn’t the America I know.  It is not the America I am going to represent.  I stand for a tolerant, inclusive America – not a country fueled by fear.

We have to remember Hillary’s ideas didn’t die with this election.  

It is our job to keep them alive. 

Just to offer a little hope yesterday:

  • Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada) became the first Latina US Senator.
  • Kate Brown (Oregon) became the first LGBT Governor ever.
  • Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) became our first Somalian-American Muslim woman legislator.
  • Kamala Harris (California) became our first female African-American senator since 1999.

The next four years are going to be rough.  But we have two options: we can hide or we stand proudly in the streets in solidarity with our fellow Americans. We must refuse to cower in the face of hatred and bigotry.  As Michelle Obama said, ‘When they go low, we go high.’  We have to stand together and show the world that we are not a people ruled by hatred.

Watching Hillary’s concession speech showed me that while she might not be our next president, you can be damn well sure she’s going to continue to fight for us.  She hasn’t lost hope.  I haven’t either.

So today after having one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had, I went to my 9 am.  I grabbed a coffee and worked on an essay.  I went to my 11 am archaeology lecture.  I grabbed an afternoon pint with some friends.  Then I went home and slept for six hours.  I was tired.  I was upset.  I got knocked down, but you can be damn sure that I’m getting back up.

I remember looking at a poster at my Junior High School when I was about 13. It had all the presidents on it and I remember thinking about how one day we’d finally have a women up there. It didn’t happen this year, but Hillary’s ideas didn’t die with this election.

I am beyond saddened by the result, but I know that we need to keep moving forward. We can allow this to knock us down, but we cannot allow this outcome to keep us from getting back up. We cannot dwell in our sadness and regret. We have to channel those emotions into creating the America I know we can be. We have to keep fighting for tolerance and equality.

So, yeah, I’m still with her.

 

 

How AP Classes Saved My Future.

Fair warning, this post is political.

However, I know nothing changes unless you actively seek change.  You can’t just sit by and expect things to work out.

Furthermore, the American political process is all about representation.  Good politicians listen to their constituents.

And, because I love my home state and want other bright students to have the same opportunities I had, I had to share my experiences with Advanced Placement classes.

And guys, I go to the University of Edinburgh, the university is notorious for breeding meddlers (*cough* David Hume, Adam Smith, and Charles Darwin, just name a few… *cough*)

So below is the letter I sent to various political representatives in the state including members from the House, Senate, and the Governor himself.  I figured I would share it with everyone here to further take part in the political process.

Because, despite what a lot of people say politics is public and positive political change needs mindful, audible voices.

Hello!

My name is Kennedy Younger Dold. I am eighteen years old and I was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. I attended South Junior High School and in 2015 I graduated from Lawrence High School.  You may remember me as the talkative, blonde fourteen year old from the 2011 Kansas Book Festival, of which I was one of 30 invited authors. My novel Amelia and the Heroes of Old was published in April of 2011.

A few years have pasted, and I am currently in my second semester of my first year at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland studying History and Archaeology. The University of Edinburgh is a Top 20 World University founded in 1582 and has on average a 10.7% acceptance rate. I received an unconditional offer for study; an extremely hard offer to get that guaranteed without any further assessment my acceptance into the University.

I would not have even been eligible to apply to the University of Edinburgh without the ability to take Advanced Placement classes.

I am writing to you today about House Bill 2292. I believe this bill would have drastic negative effects on current and future students of Kansas. It would limit their educations, creative growth, and collegiate aspirations.

Throughout high school I took a number of AP Classes including, AP European History, AP United States History, AP English Language and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP English Literature and Composition, AP United States Government, AP Comparative Politics, AP Studio Art Drawing, and AP Latin.

These classes taught me invaluable skills such as essay drafting, proper research methods, time management, not to mention the academic knowledge I obtained from analyzing primary sources and reading secondary materials. I was given unique opportunities to engage further and excel with subjects I not only enjoyed but were critical to my further education.

Advanced Placement classes give high achieving, high aspiring students a chance to further their educations past the bare minimum. House Bill 2292 will not only restrict students all over Kansas from being highly educated but punish them. It would prevent students from excelling and punish schools for teaching outside of the Kansas Standards.

House Bill 2292 will limit the standard of a Kansas Education.

It will limit the future of all Kansans.

I know a large portion of the current political platform is based on tax cuts and inviting more big business investments into the state. I think it is a little unrealistic to think that big businesses, run by people with families, would what to move, let alone invest in a state where their children would not receive a quality education.

It is not just a matter of present education either. Advanced Placement classes culminate in an end of the year test with the chance of earning College Credit. If the student preforms well, these tests are huge money saving opportunities for students intending on continuing on to college. They enable students to move directly into more challenging college classes instead of paying for a low level class that is a waste of time and money.

House Bill 2292 would indirectly limit the future of all Kansas college hopefuls. Many upper level colleges across the United States require a minimum number of high scoring AP Test results. For instance, Ivy League colleges such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton require AP scores. They are increasingly moving away from accepting State Standards and even ACT or SAT.  To even apply to the University of Edinburgh I had to have at least four high scoring results.

House Bill 2292 would not only restrict students like me who wanted to go abroad, but domestically as well.

My dream to become an archaeologist would have been shattered if I had not had the opportunity to take Advanced Placement classes.

House Bill 2292 takes away opportunities from every student in Kansas.

Something I care deeply for is fairness. Maybe I get it from my parents; my mother worked in patent law and now works as a consultant to better companies, making them more equal and fair. My father was a defense attorney and in January retired after 30+ years in service to this country in the United States Marine Corps, Air Force, and Kansas Air National Guard.

Both my parents stressed fairness to me growing up and House Bill 2292 is not fair.

It is not fair to the teachers who take passion in their subjects.

It is not fair to the parents who want to the best possible education for their children.

It is not fair to the students who aspire to achieve their dreams.

This bill does not affect me, but it will affect students who should be given the same chance I had including my little sister. It in in their names I write to you today, because I believe all students should not be limited in what they can learn. I had to work hard for my admission to the University of Edinburgh. It was not given to me. However, the opportunity was still there.

House Bill 2292 takes away any chance of any student having the same opportunities I had. It takes a student’s future away from them. It tells them they can only achieve so much.

Living abroad has opened my world-view to so many new ideas and people. This opportunity was only possible because of my teachers in AP who pushed me to realize my potential and to them I am eternally grateful. I have friends from all over the world. I celebrated Thanksgiving in Scotland, with friends from six different countries including Scotland, England, Austria, Norway, Lithuania, and the Canary Islands (Spain). We cooked a meal together as the next generation of world citizens.

Especially in a world fueled by bigotry and misinformed hatred, we need well-educated young people willing to talk and to learn from each other. This can only come from allowing our young people the best opportunities we can give them.

House Bill 2292 directly limits the young people of Kansas.

House Bill 2292 destroys aspirations of thousands of bright, intelligent students who only want to learn.

Cheers from Edinburgh,

Kennedy Younger Dold