this I believe

This I Believe Rhode Island: Ocean

Sep 27, 2016

It's no secret that water is central to life in the Ocean State.  Narragansett, Greenwich, and Mt. Hope Bays; myriad rivers and lakes; and Block Island Sound, our gateway to the Atlantic Ocean.  Muscular ship building, the gentle mainland-to-the-island ferries, riverboat cruises on the Blackstone.  For many of us, our connection to water defines who we are as Rhode Islanders in ways that are not possible in land-locked states.  The famed New England poet E.E.

Exploring our genealogical roots is much more than a fad. This increasingly popular endeavor seems to represent a fundamental – and quite understandable – wish to know from whence we came, both geographically and genetically. And, these searches often yield surprises, some delightfully pleasant, some downright shocking. Indeed, the complex connections among us are quite amazing, reflecting the proverbial family of humankind, as we hear from Mike Fink. 


Mike Fink is an English professor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He has produced columns in a wide range of local and national magazines and earned the Providence Journal's Metcalf Award and the National Conference for Community Justice Award, as well as the Never Again Award for journalism. 

This I Believe Rhode Island: Rewind

Sep 14, 2016

  In A.A. Milne's classic children's story Winnie the Pooh, the beloved anthropomorphic bear asks Piglet, "What day is it?"  "It's today," squeaked Piglet.  "My favorite day," Pooh replied.  Pooh's profound message, it seems, is that it's so important for us to appreciate the moment we're in -- a moment that won't last forever -- despite whatever wishes we might have to hold tight to the most precious events in our lives.  And we hear compelling echoes of that very wise insight from Rabbi Sarah Mack.


Rabbi Sarah Mack, a native of Seattle, Washington, is a member of the clergy at Temple Beth-El in Providence. 

This I Believe Rhode Island: Trust

Sep 6, 2016

Trust is an essential element in the human species.  We depend on trust for our very survival.  An infant cannot survive without being able to trust her nurturing parent.  Marriages that lack trust hit a dead end.  Handshakes that seal a business deal assume genuine trust, which sometimes springs from a leap of faith.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.” Bill Miles reflects on the most basic form of trust that connects human beings and other creatures.    


Personal courage takes many forms. For some, it’s standing up to a relentlessly abusive oppressor.  For others, courage is facing difficult truths about one’s self, or coping with a daunting health condition.  And for some, courage means standing by one’s deep-seated, heartfelt beliefs, especially in the midst of a potentially hostile environment.  Aristotle wrote, “You will never do anything in this world without courage.”  Seventeen-year-old Areeba Khan has learned how to live up to those wise words at a very young age.

Areeba Khan is entering the 12th grade at Sharon High School in Massachusetts.

Here’s the modern lament that comes out of so many of our mouths:  If only people would get their noses out of their smartphones, we could return to the days when people really connected with each other and engaged in meaningful communication.  Oh the perils of Facebook, Face Time, BuzzFeed, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Foursquare, and all of their digital cousins.  For so many of us, life seems saturated with technology and with smartphone apps that seem to shape our contemporary identities.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Time

Aug 16, 2016

  The concept of time is remarkably elusive and mysterious.  At once it seems both hauntingly infinite and extraordinarily limited.  It's truly here today and gone tomorrow.  The very wise Dr. Seuss once asked, "How did it get so late so soon?"  In this encore essay, Joy Bianco reflects on the evolution of her own deeply personal understanding – and appreciation – of time. 

Joy Bianco is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and Roger Williams University School of Law.  She writes from her home in Warwick where she lives with her husband and four daughters.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Fleeting Moments

Aug 9, 2016

Memories are central to our lives. We seem to need them, sometimes to relive glorious moments, sometimes to process traumatic events, sometimes to separate the wheat from the chaff of our lives.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Challenges

Aug 2, 2016

  Every life is filled with challenging moments and, sometimes, challenges that fill far longer stretches of time.  Sadly, some people find it so very hard to climb out of what may seem like a bottomless abyss.  Others of us – perhaps because of some combination of pure hardiness and the skilled and caring help provided by others – manage to triumph and draw on our ordeals to forge ahead with rich insight, even vigor.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Being Resilient

Jul 26, 2016

Most -- perhaps all -- lives have defining moments, those instances that suddenly turn our lives upside down in unbidden ways, those moments that we did not see coming and dramatically shift the lenses through which we view and understand our world.  Some of these defining moments happen in childhood and have the capacity to shape our life trajectories.  The journalist Max Lerner once said, "The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt."  Thirteen-year-old Annabelle Doyle seems to be doing just that.

Annabelle Doyle will be entering the 8th grade at the Gordon School in East Providence.  She lives in Providence with her sister Grace, her parents Amy and Tom, and dog Tasha.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Everyday Choices

Jul 19, 2016

How many of you feel your senses being assaulted on a daily basis by the distressingly steady and toxic flow of bad news in the world?  International conflict.  Famine.  Natural disasters.  Severe economic downturns.  Heinous crime.  The list goes on and on.  Most of us yearn for peace and safety, don’t we?  We want tranquility in the small, private corners of our world and in the global community.   In this encore essay, Darlene Van Straten shares her very personal insights about this widespread and shared challenge.


Darlene Van Straten is a technical writer who resides in Portsmouth, Rhode Island with her husband, who hails from Puli, Taiwan.

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.