this I believe

This I Believe Rhode Island: Identity

Feb 16, 2016

  The famed writer and poet Gertrude Stein once said, ''Growing has no connection with audience. Audience has no connection with identity." Stein's claim, it seems, is that our true identity is embedded deep within each of us and develops over the years in its own inexorable way. It's a complex, even debatable phenomenon, as Alex Myers knows very, very well.


Before moving to Washington, DC, Alex Myers taught English at St. George's School in Middletown. His first novel, Revolutionary, tells the story of Deborah Samson, who disguised herself as a man and fought in the Revolutionary War.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Kindness

Feb 9, 2016

 Too often, it seems kindness in our world is in short supply.  Politicians take vicious swipes at each other during election season.  Talk-show callers rant on the airwaves.  Irritated drivers share their angry sentiments with, well, you know.  Yet, amidst the angry storms that surround us, there are wonderful, often quiet and poignant moments of kindness – people treating each other with gentleness, compassion, and genuine civility.  Too often these moments get lost in the noisy, chaos, but sometimes the astute among us notice and learn from them, which is just what happened to thirteen-year-old Jessica Kelly. 

Jessica Kelly is an eighth-grade student at the Moses Brown School in Providence.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Climate Change

Feb 2, 2016

Climate change is a hot button issue, that’s for sure. Reputable survey after survey indicate that the majority of people believe that climate change is a serious problem. And then we get to the hard part: what to do about it, and about that there’s less consensus.  But what we do know is that a stalwart group of Rhode Islanders is out in front, taking the lead in remarkably earnest efforts to address this intimidating challenge.  Timmons Roberts couldn’t be more pleased.  As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”


Timmons Roberts is professor of environmental sociology at Brown University, and helped lead the Resilient Rhode Island team in supporting the passage of the state’s first comprehensive climate change legislation.  In 2016 he’s helping a coalition working on a bill to reduce emissions and create jobs through putting a price on carbon.

This I Believe Rhode lsland: Hamlet

Jan 26, 2016

  Imagine yourself as a high school English teacher trying to inspire your students to grapple with the complex nuances embedded in Shakespearian literature.  Not an easy task, you may be thinking.  But as many of us have come to know and appreciate, often many years post-high school, Shakespeare is chock full of profound insights and life lessons, if only we have the patience and persistence to delve into the Bard’s writings.   English teacher Chris McEnroe brings Shakespeare into his own life, along with those of his students.

Chris McEnroe has been on the English department faculty at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts since 2005.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Winter

Jan 19, 2016

  Here we are, right smack in the heart of another New England winter.  For some, this stretch of months with early sunsets is filled with dread -- frosty temperatures, snow piles to shovel, and ice patches to dodge.  But for others of us, this wintry mix is the stuff of pure delight.  As the poet Robert Frost wrote, "You can't get too much winter in the winter."  And we hear similar sentiments from Gabriel Warren.

Gabriel Warren is a sculptor living in both South County, Rhode Island and Nova Scotia, Canada.  Warren works primarily in sheet metals and is especially interested in juxtaposing elements that refer to the natural world and man-made objects.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Normalcy

Jan 12, 2016

All of us have grown weary of the steady diet of dreadful news that saturates radio and television broadcasts, newspaper headlines, and social media alerts: terrorist bombings, mass shootings, gang violence, urban riots.  The list seems painfully unending.  Yet most of us somehow march through our days with a remarkable sense of normalcy and nonchalance, albeit perhaps with at least a hum of anxiety about when the next shoe will drop.  For many, making sense of this stark juxtaposition – the ever-present awareness of international and national horror that sits alongside our relatively prosaic lives – poses an existential challenge, which is certainly the case for Noel Rubinton.

Noel Rubinton, a Brown University graduate, is a Providence-based writer and communications consultant.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Milestones

Jan 5, 2016

As we march through life, most of us develop deeper, richer, and more nuanced insights about what this journey means.  Isn’t it true that, under the best of circumstances, aging brings wisdom, some of which requires that significant portions of our lives are in the rearview mirror?  The poet Mary Oliver wrote, “Instructions for living a life.  Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”  Lifelong Rhode Islander, Jack Partridge, tells us about it.

Jack Partridge, a Providence College and Harvard Law School graduate, has lived in Rhode Island for nearly all of his 75 years.  He is an attorney with the Providence law firm, Partridge, Snow and Hahn.  

This I Believe Rhode Island: Stories

Dec 29, 2015

Every one of us has a story - make that lots of stories - that define who we are. There are those life-altering events during childhood, perhaps our first love or our first heartbreak, or the stories that come out of our adult lives that are so very complex. Some of us are eager to share our stories with anyone who will listen, but as Bill Harley reflects in this encore essay, others of us are much more quiet about the stories that shape our lives.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Afterlife

Dec 23, 2015

  In Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, Emily Webb dies while giving birth and, in the afterlife, gazes upon the earth and utters her compelling and poignant lines: "Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.  Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? — every, every minute?"   Many of us struggle with the concept of the afterlife.  Will I go to heaven if I live a morally virtuous life?  After I die, will I be able to connect with the people I love?  Is there really a heaven, or is it simply a figment of my imagination?  John Walsh reflects on these enduring existential questions.

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.  Walsh also shares observations at

This I Believe Rhode Island: Accepting Invitations

Dec 15, 2015

  It’s no secret that growing older can be an ambidextrous experience.  On one hand, aging can be filled with a joyful mix of satisfying moments, astute insights, and exciting new challenges.  And, on that other hand, for many there are the daunting physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges that can burden us during the so-called golden years, which for some aren’t so golden.  

This I Believe Rhode Island: Walden

Dec 8, 2015

  The prolific writings and musings of Henry David Thoreau – the nineteenth-century author, poet, philosopher, and naturalist – cast a very long shadow that reaches deep into our own contemporary lives.  For many of us, Thoreau’s profound reflections, stunning twists of phrase, and keen insights help us make some sense of this remarkably complicated world.  And they have certainly shaped the life of lifelong Rhode Islander 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: Metaphor

Dec 1, 2015

  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.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Miracles

Nov 24, 2015

  The nineteenth century novelist Joseph Conrad once wrote, “My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel--it is, before all, to make you see.”  And that is exactly what this NPR series aims to do.  Featured essayists stitch together words that let you peek inside their core beliefs, their struggles to understand their world, their insights about what matters most in life.  Sometimes these words are expressed in prose, sometimes in poetry.  And as Rhode Island's outgoing state poet Rick Benjamin notes, sometimes we enjoy both poetry and prose.

Rick Benjamin has served as the state poet of Rhode Island since 2013.  He will be departing shortly for a new position in California.

  It’s no secret that many people struggle in life: job-related problems, relationship challenges, mental health issues, financial uncertainty.  The list goes on and on.  Yet, some people are remarkably resilient in the face of chronic adversity.  Against daunting odds, they manage to flourish amidst nearly overwhelming challenges.  In Paradise Lost, John Milton wrote, “Even the demons are encouraged when their chief is ‘not lost in loss itself.”  Noah Kilroy has much to say about coping with adversity and despair and, ultimately, rising from the proverbial ashes. 

Noah Kilroy is an attorney practicing in Providence.  He is a graduate of Salve Regina University and Roger Williams University Law School.

  You know those middle-of-the-night or early-morning awakenings when your senses are unusually sharp? The slightest sounds take on new meaning, or perhaps otherwise fleeting thoughts become intrusive. Solitude and silence, although sometimes disquieting, seem to invite deep reflection and unusually intense awareness. As Henry David Thoreau says in Walden, “I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”  And we hear echoes of these sentiments from Erik Wilker.

Erik Wilker is an administrator at Moses Brown School in Providence, where he was asked to contribute a "This I Believe" essay to a student-led project.  He and his family moved to Rhode Island eleven years ago after having lived in the West.