This I Believe - Rhode Island

Wednesday at 6:45 AM, 8:45 AM and 5:45 PM

Credit Scott Indermaur

Hosted by Frederic Reamer

Modeled on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow, This I Believe - Rhode Island, hosted by Frederic Reamer, is an effort to share the many stories of people of Rhode Island... the personal experiences that have helped form the opinions of your neighbors. This I Believe - Rhode Island is also an opportunity for you to share your own beliefs and experiences.

If you are interested in submitting an essay, please see our guidelines here.

You know that expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”?  What it means, of course, is that we should do what we can to make the best of difficult circumstances we encounter, to extract something positive out of the unbidden events that come our way.  This isn’t always feasible, but isn’t it wonderful when we manage to figure out a way to turn life’s traumas into meaningful, sometimes glorious, even magnificent, opportunities?  That’s what Elena Yee has experienced in her life.

Elena Yee is a born and bred Bostonian and the daughter of immigrants from China and Hong Kong.  She has worked as an engineer, a teacher in Asia and Alaska, and with students at a college in Santa Barbara, California.  She is currently director of the Multicultural Activities Office at Providence College.

This I Believe Rhode Island: 2nd Chances

Jun 11, 2013

You know those times in life when you wish you could rewind the clock and do it all over again?  That first date that didn’t work out so well, or perhaps the job interview where you now cringe when you think about how you answered that critical screening question.  Of course, life doesn’t come with a reset button.  As Henry David Thoreau once said, “Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”  And that’s what we hear from Bill Miles.

Bill Miles, a resident of Seekonk, Massachusetts, is a professor of political science at Northeastern University, where he integrates music into his teaching on politics. Miles has lived in and written books on India, West Africa, the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the French Caribbean. When his daughter, Arielle, picks up her violin, Miles tries to accompany her on his cello – without regrets.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Seasons

Jun 4, 2013

No doubt you have noticed how our lives ebb and flow, much like the seasons.  Both literally and figuratively we get to experience the wonder of stunningly beautiful spring days and the bitter assault delivered by the occasional winter blizzard.  Such is life.  Indeed, seasons seem to be able to teach us so much about coping with life's inevitable ups and downs, including its bittersweet moments.  Consider the quote penned by the French Nobel existentialist Albert Camus: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."  These are the sentiments echoed by Terry Ward.

For the last 20 years Terry Ward has enjoyed working as a college counseling director, currently at the Providence Country Day School. He is also a religious studies teacher and loves music of all kinds.  Ward has sung with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival Chorus for 22 years.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Nature

May 28, 2013

As we race around in our lives, between hither and yon, and between our mundane daily tasks and life's occasional crises, how many of us notice, really notice nature's creatures and its other assorted bounty that cross our paths - the flowers, the birds, the insects, even the neighbor's pet? Cara Murray certainly notices, and she has her own very special way of showing it, as we hear in this encore essay.

When she recorded this essay, Cara Murray was a graduate of Brown University pursuing a Master of Arts in Marine Affairs at the University of Rhode Island. She is a former dancer and, as she reports, an emerging writer.

This I Believe RI: Validation

May 21, 2013

Haven’t all of us had those moments in life when we worry that we’re invisible, that no one notices we’re really here?  Perhaps we were the new kid at school who seemed to blend into the crowd, or the party goer to whom no one paid much attention. Maybe all of us feel the sentiment shared by Ralph Ellison in his novel, Invisible Man: “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”  All of us want to be validated, and that’s what we hear from Christina Connett.

Christina Connett teaches art history and the history of cartography at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her love of maps comes from a life of travel by sea, air and land and an interest in how people relate to ideas of place. Connett and her family live in Jamestown.

This I Believe RI: Unique Families

May 15, 2013

What does the word ‘family’ mean to you?  Does it conjure up images of the proverbial mom and dad with their offspring, or do you have a more elastic sense of what family is all about? On this we would all agree:  Family is an essential cornerstone in our lives. In his early twentieth-century masterpiece, The Life of Reason, the philosopher and poet George Santayana said, "The family is one of nature's masterpieces." And as we hear from 12-year-old Matt Lannon, what matters ultimately is how each of us understands what family means in our own unique lives.

Matthew Lannon is a 12 year old sixth-grader at the Wheeler School in Providence. He recently testified in favor of same-sex marriage before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in Rhode Island in support of his family. The legislation was signed by Rhode Island’s governor on May 2, 2013.

This I Believe RI: A Simple Pencil

May 7, 2013

Renowned author Anne Lamott once wrote, “It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools.” And doesn’t it often happen that we have to depend on the simplest, most primitive things in our lives when times are tough? That’s exactly what happened with this 13-year old Jeremiah Matos.

Jeremiah Matos is an eighth grade student at TAPA: Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. He is a visual artist, dancer, and filmmaker. Jeremiah loves exploring the root of his artistic side, and appreciating how a simple pencil changed his outlook on the world.

This I Believe RI: Working The Soil

May 1, 2013

Madame Marie Curie, the renowned chemist and physicist who was the first female Nobel prize recipient, once said, “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”  And isn’t it true that perseverance in the face of daunting odds is what helps us get through life’s challenging moments?  That’s what we hear from Jennifer Bristol.

Jennifer Bristol is the Executive Director of Mount Hope Farm in, of all places, Bristol, Rhode Island. She reports having two amazing daughters, and lives in Pawtuxet Village with her best guy Jim and their best dog Rocket.

This I Believe RI: Music Speaks

Apr 24, 2013

I imagine every single one of us has been deeply moved by a particular song or two that takes us right back to pivotal moments in our lives.  It’s almost like imprinting – a certain melody or lyrics can connect us instantly to an earlier moment that was transformative. As the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen said in the 19th century, “Where words fail, music speaks.”  And that’s what we hear from 13-year old Jania Brown.

Jania Brown is an eighth grade student at TAPA: Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. She is a dancer, musician, and cheerleader. For Jania, a voice from beyond the grave changed her whole vision about music.

This I Believe RI: Coping With Challenges

Apr 17, 2013

What life doesn’t have its share of struggles?  Some are bigger than others, of course, but surely we’ve all known some measure of disappointment, loss, and sorrow.  As the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus said, “You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”  For Francisco Oller, what matters most in life is how we cope with the challenges that come our way.

Francisco Oller is 19 years old and was born with a rare genetic disease called Pelizaeus Merzbacher.  Oller was born in Puerto Rico and lived there until enrolling at Providence College, where he is currently a student.  Oller says that his disability has made him a determined, courageous, and very resilient person.

This I Believe RI: A Tall Treasure

Apr 10, 2013

Even for the most seasoned Rhode Islanders, the Ocean State harbors lots of savory secrets, some tucked away in the folds of South County's farmland and others in Woonsocket's triple deckers. Within our roughly 1,000 square miles we are surrounded by a wonderful mix of compelling scenes and sounds that help shape our lives. This encore poem by Rhode Island's poet laureate emeritus, Tom Chandler, about a tall treasure in Foster that is part of who we are.

Tom Chandler is poet laureate of Rhode Island emeritus and associate professor of creative writing at Bryant University. He has been named Phi Beta Kappa Poet at Brown University and has been a featured poet at the Robert Frost homestead. Chandler is the author of five books of poetry, including his most recent, Toy Firing Squad. His work has been published in Poetry, Boulevard, The New York Quarterly, The Christian Science Monitor, and many other journals.

This I Believe RI: We Must Do What We Love To Do

Apr 2, 2013

This is a truism in all our lives: We grow up filled with dreams about where life will take us or, better yet, where we will take life.  Some of our dreams come to fruition yet, sadly, others are dashed in painful ways.  Henry David Thoreau says in the conclusion of his book Walden, in which he details his two-year experience living in his cabin near Walden Pond, "I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." Rabbi Elan Babchuck reflects on his own dashed dreams and how they have taught him how to live a life with real meaning.

Rabbi Elan Babchuck decided to follow his passion and is now a rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Providence.  These days he drives a sensible, family sedan and loves nothing more than hitting the road and exploring the world with his wife Lizzie and their son Micah, who, significantly, is named after his late grandfather, Michael.

This I Believe RI: Emotional Support

Mar 26, 2013

There are ten words none of us ever wants to hear about a loved one: "I have some very difficult news to share with you." What comes next can't possibly be good; we hope, and perhaps pray, that we have the strength to cope with whatever we are about to hear. In this encore essay, Audrey Kupchan tells us what sustained her after she received bad news about the person who is at the center of her world.

Dr. Audrey Kupchan is a transplanted New Yorker who has been practicing Primary Care Internal Medicine in Rhode Island since 1984. She is a physician with Coastal Medical in East Providence. She lives with her family in Barrington.

Life Changed by a Cat

Mar 23, 2013

There's a well known Yiddish expression you may have heard:  Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht.  Translation: Man plans and God laughs.  How often does it happen that your best laid plans get turned upside down by some unexpected development in your life?  As Harry Sterling reminds us, sometimes what lands on our doorsteps -- both literally and figuratively --  has a way of reminding us not to be too confident when we map out our paths.

The Rev. Dr. Harry Sterling retired in 2003 from a career conducting research in health and human services and lives with his wife on Prudence Island.  Sterling learned to sail in a small cat boat; these days he reads, writes, and volunteers in a variety of community organizations. He and his wife were adopted by a feral kitten, who, after a violent storm, decided to live inside.


Mar 13, 2013

Most of us have found that metaphors help us make sense of our complicated world, pushing us to view life’s complexities through alternate lenses and images.  Metaphors are the creative tools of writers, artists, and therapists.  The renowned author and anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson once said, “there are few things as toxic as a bad metaphor. You can’t think without metaphors.”  Lindsay Aromin surely has made good use of metaphors in her life.

Lindsay Aromin is an English teacher at North Smithfield High School, where each year her ninth grade students write their own “This I Believe” essays.  Aromin has been a member of the Pawtucket and Providence Figure Skating Club for over twenty years.  She also coaches private and group skating lessons in Pawtucket.