this I believe

All of us can summon up some childhood memories that make us cringe.  With the wisdom and perspective that come with adulthood, we might recoil when we think back to those "How-could-I-have-done-that!" moments from years ago. Perhaps it was the nontrivial lie we told our parents, the pack of chewing gum we shoplifted from the corner store, or the vulnerable neighborhood kid we bullied.  Instead of dismissing those missteps and relegating them to the dustbin of our memories, the wisest among us learn profound lessons from these transgressions as we move through life. Impressively, 13-year-old Juliana Pal has already done just that. 


Juliana Pal will be entering the 8th grade at the Gordon School in East Providence.  She lives with her family in Providence.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Overcoming Abuse

Jul 5, 2016

  Sadly, some people endure unspeakable trauma during their childhoods. Physical abuse. Emotional torture. Sexual assault. No child should ever know such horrors but, alas, some do -- and bear the emotional and physical scars for a lifetime. Fortunately, some traumatized children have remarkable grit and somehow get the help they need to cope as best they can. Some even manage to thrive beyond anyone's wildest dreams.  The British poet Lord Byron once wrote, "Adversity is the first path to truth." Eighteen-year-old Jurity Calderon is on that very path.


Jurity Calderon recently graduated from Hope High School in Providence and plans to attend Rhode Island College.


This I Believe Rhode Island: Learning Empathy

Jun 28, 2016

  Coping with scary medical news is a challenge at any age.  There’s the inevitable uncertainty and the possibility that our imaginations will run wild with worry. And, there’s something especially poignant when that challenge lands in the lap of a child who’s on the cusp of adolescence.  Fortunately, many children are remarkably hardy and wise in the face of this sort of adversity.  That’s certainly the case with 13-year-old Sebastian Dobron.

Sebastian Dobron will be entering the 8th grade at the Gordon School in East Providence.  He lives with his family in Barrington.  

It seems almost trite to say that nature is a remarkable teacher.  But that’s okay.  Indeed, nature is a remarkable teacher. All of us can point to lessons nature has taught us about appreciating life’s wonders, managing uncertainty and unpredictability, coping with adversity and accepting that we have so little control over some aspects of our lives. The English poet William Wordsworth wrote in his poem The Tables Turned, “Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.”  And in this encore essay we hear similar sentiments from Lisa Jacobson. 

Lisa Jacobson is an artist, gardener, mother and teacher at Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts.  She lives with her family in Providence.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Ancestors

Jun 14, 2016

  All of us have ancestors.  Some we celebrate and some, well, you know.  Most of us descend from the proverbial mixed bag of humanity, from those who were saintly and those whose lives may have been filled with some measure of mischief.  Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests, and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.”  And we hear similar sentiments from John Walsh.

John Walsh is a partner in the East Greenwich-based communications firm, Walsh & Associates. He writes a monthly Op-Ed column for the Providence Journal, which published an earlier version of this essay.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Singing

Jun 7, 2016

Music is so central to many of our lives.  Isn’t it the case that certain songs instantly bring back poignant memories, some joyous, some humorous, some melancholy?  Sometimes, belting out a tune can be remarkably cathartic, a way to cope with anxiety or to celebrate life’s sweet moments.  Even Plato had something to say about it: “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”  And 13-year-old Gianna Paratore has reached much the same conclusion.

Gianna Paratore is in the seventh grade at the Gordon School in East Providence.  She lives with her family in Warren.

  If we’re fortunate, we live long enough to share our adulthoods with our parents.  Indeed, one of the joys of aging is having the opportunity to connect with parents when we’re all adults, when the challenging dynamics of childhood are in our rearview mirrors.  Yet with this privilege comes the keen awareness that some day we may have to become our parents’ caregivers, rather than the reverse which defined our lives for decades. The poet Robert Frost wrote, “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” Fortunately, many of us regard this as a true honor, as we hear from Donna Perry.

Donna Perry is a registered nurse who hails from nearby Massachusetts.  Her mother passed away earlier this year.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Caution

May 24, 2016

Most of us find that our perspectives change as we age. What was once a relatively trivial concern in our lives may begin to take on great meaning, or we may begin to relax about issues that once caused us great consternation and angst. Tom Doyle reflects on this very shift in his own life, and on its implications.

Following graduation from Wesleyan University, Doyle worked as a journalist, including a stint as managing editor of the Block Island Times weekly newspaper. He is now a physician, and lives with his family in Providence.

Life’s trajectory is hard to forecast and, you may have noticed, often harder to control.  There’s that profound Yiddish proverb, “Der mentsh trakht un got lakht. Man plans and God laughs.”  Under the best of circumstances, we figure out a way to cope with the curve balls that life sometimes throws at us.  And some of us do so with remarkable aplomb and grit, which is what we hear from Neil Corkery.

Neil Corkery, a North Kingstown resident, has had a rich career as an educator, human service administrator, and Rhode Island state legislator.

Who among us hasn’t encountered moments of sheer panic and debilitating anxiety? Perhaps it was when you were about to be wheeled in for surgery, or maybe it was that first date, waiting to find out about your grade on a critically important final exam, or, for so many, those moments before a big performance.  Joyce Carol Oates wrote, “Any kind of creative activity is likely to be stressful. The more anxiety, the more you feel that you are headed in the right direction.”  And we hear similar sentiments from a wise 13-year-old, Emma LaSala.   

Emma LaSala is in the seventh grade at the Gordon School in East Providence.  She lives with her family in Barrington.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Your Mother

May 3, 2016

  Who hasn't had a close encounter or two with a remarkably exasperating, perhaps eccentric, relative -- that legendary family fixture who has an astonishing ability to push the proverbial envelope and test our patience? And then, as so often happens, this is the relative who, over time, manages somehow to seep into and truly touch our soul. This is what happened to Janine Weisman. 



Janine Weisman is editor of Mercury, a weekly arts, culture and lifestyle publication in Newport. 

This I Believe Rhode island: Blank Pages

Apr 26, 2016

  Triumphs in our lives come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.  Some of our successes consist of quiet, nearly invisible moments, while others occur under bright lights and with lots of fanfare.  So, too, with the challenges and setbacks we often encounter that precede these triumphs.  Most lives, it seems, include an inevitable mix of sweet and sour, and dark and light.  But when we manage to triumph over our daunting challenges, those are the sweetest moments of all, as we hear from 13-year-old Lois Griffin.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Seasons

Apr 12, 2016

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.  

Life is filled with a complex mix of big and small moments.  Alongside the banner events of births, deaths, weddings, and graduations are quieter, albeit perhaps equally significant moments in our lives, those moments that arise out of brief, unanticipated, often random kindnesses.  As the ancient Greek storyteller Aesop once wrote, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” And this we hear in the thoughts of Kevin Blanchard.

Kevin Blanchard grew up in the hills of central Massachusetts and teaches English at Barrington High School.  Each summer, he and his family spend their vacation time in northern New England.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Revision

Mar 29, 2016

In Plato's Apology, Socrates asserts that the unexamined life is not worth living.  While that may be a bit of an overstatement, many of us have learned during the course of our lives that self-examination that has real depth is a virtue that pays impressive dividends.  We understand ourselves better and, one would hope, enhance the meaning and purpose of our lives.  As we hear from Kenneth Schneyer, self-reflection, and the careful revision that results, also has the capacity to refine the profoundly important words we speak and write.


Kenneth Schneyer writes science fiction and fantasy, and teaches Humanities and Legal Studies at Johnson & Wales University.