In the previous blog post I wrote briefly about the Jesse James gang. A reference to the Jesse James gang always brings back a very special memory.
In 2005 I did the Global Volunteers program in Pelican Rapids, MN -- a program that no longer is available. I chose to do this program because I was aware that Pelican Rapids was a community that was highly accepting of immigrants and refugees. I was interested in what made this community different than others.
Well, that didn't take long. At the public library there was an exhibit about the newly arrived immigrants and refugees in the town. One resident wrote, "These people tell the same stories as did my grandparents about why they came to the United States and Minnesota." That was the piece of wisdom but not the one I referenced in the title.
On the last day of the program, there was an outdoor picnic. A Somali young man, one of the teens provided by the Chamber of Commerce, approached me and asked very politely if he could join me for lunch. He had spent the week with a boy who had been in the community only 3 days, telling the volunteer teacher who had this student, "I know what he needs."
He wanted to talk with me to ask questions about Minnesota. He started out by asking me to explain about Jesse James. He had heard something about this, but didn't understand. Then he asked me if he was right in thinking the Minnesota Wild Hockey team played in Saint Paul. He went to ask if he was correct in his thinking that professional hockey players did get not paid as much as professional football players or basketball players. I told him he was correct, but that the amount professional athletes were paid seemed ridiculous to me compared to what we paid professionals such as teachers or nurses.
He looked at me with his 14 year old life history as a refugee and said, "You know Ma'am, life is not fair." I have never forgotten this.