Forum, April 15: Lebanon Libraries Offer More Chances to Boost English Skills

Saturday, April 14, 2018
More Chances to Boost English Skills

The various opportunities for newcomers to the United States to learn English in the Upper Valley received some needed publicity through Peter Rousmaniere’s informative column (“Closing the Region’s Immigrant Language Gap,” March 24). Through no fault of his own, however, the author was unaware at the time of a new program that supplements the excellent classes for beginning and intermediate students. The Lebanon Libraries are collaborating with a group of volunteers to build a new set of activities for Upper Valley residents who want to improve their English speaking skills. A core component is a meeting held Mondays, from 5-6:15 p.m., at the Kilton Library.

The name chosen for the project — The Talking Bridge — recognizes that language is the medium through which we can come to know each other. English language learners are eager to improve their speaking and comprehension skills. One comment illustrates the typical difficulties they encounter: “I studied English at school (in my home country), but I really just learned to pass a test. I froze when someone asked me, ‘Eat in or take out?’ ”

Overcoming the sense of isolation that results from unfamiliarity with both language and culture is often as urgent a need as language development. So please, if you know anyone who might benefit from this program, spread the word and encourage them to contact The Talking Bridge by calling the Kilton Library at 603-442-6158 or by emailing Judith Bush at jbush@together.net, Janet Goldberger at janet.goldberger@gmail.com, Maria Ortiz at maria.ortiz@leblibrary.com or me at marshacar@gmail.com.

Marsha Stern


A Taste of Life in the Gaza Strip

The article on the Israeli shooting of Palestinians in the sealed-up Gaza Strip wants some historical context (“Israel Vows Tough Response If Violence Continues,” April 1). I think Vermonters got a tiny taste of Palestinian life when we had to respond to David Hall, the wealthy Utah engineer who continues to buy central Vermont farmland to create his own God-told-me-so utopia.

Imagine if you will that Hall signs a treaty with Donald Trump in which U.S. taxpayers finance NewVistas, including funds to force resistant Vermonters out of Hall’s way. (In 1998, after 50 years, Israeli military archives were unsealed. You can now see black-and-white footage of whole towns being torched. Hundreds of villages were destroyed, including several in which everyone was massacred, livestock were killed and orchards bulldozed.)

Eventually Vermont, like Gaza, would see its municipal water systems and sewage treatment plants destroyed by aircraft and bulldozer. Then a 25-foot-high wall shuts us off from NewVistas, while roadblocks and patrols cut our remaining towns off from each other. NewVista’s 18- and 19-year-olds — who don’t speak English — each spend two years patrolling the rest of “occupied Vermont” and enforcing thousands of roadblocks and checkpoints. They carry overwhelming force, plus moral and legal impunity, to smash any homes and beat up, humiliate, arrest and kill any Vermonter at any time, for any reason, real or imagined.

Did I mention that Trump pals around with Hall and soon agrees to stop recognizing Montpelier as our capital? He also helps seal off pesky Vermonters with a near-total blockade of food, medicine and rebuilding supplies. But most important, Hall aligns with major media to report NewVistas violence as self-defense only. Always justified. Always protecting itself. Always in “Response.”

Robert Spottswood


The Making of Donald Trump’s Family

Donald Trump knows a thing or two about immigration. Just check Wikipedia. If you want to dig deeper, read TrumpNation: The Art of Donald Trump, by Timothy L. O’Brien, and The Making of Donald Trump and It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing To America, both by David Cay Johnston.

Here’s what I learned: Trump’s current wife, Melania, is an immigrant from Slovenia, who worked illegally in New York for a period of time as an “independent model” before obtaining a work permit. (She has asserted that she has always complied with immigration laws.) His second wife, Ivana, was from Czechoslovakia. His mother, Mary Anne McLeod Trump, who was born in the Outer Hebrides Islands of Scotland, disembarked at Ellis Island to work here as a maid. She didn’t become a U.S. citizen until 1942, just four years before Donald was born.

In fact, not one of his grandparents was born in the United States. His paternal grandparents, were from Kallstadt, Bavaria. His paternal grandfather, Friedrich, left Kallstadt rather abruptly to go to America, where he eventually made his fortune in the land rush in Washington state and later in the Klondike Gold Rush as owner of establishments that purveyed alcohol, gambling and, it is claimed, prostitution. He managed to leave with his money just before the Canadian Mounties cracked down.

Although he had become a U.S. citizen, Friedrich returned to Bavaria and petitioned to have his Bavarian citizenship restored, but his request was rejected on the grounds that he originally left only to avoid his country’s compulsory military service. (Something else Donald Trump might know something about.)

Incidentally, Melania’s parents have recently immigrated to the United States and would qualify, to use Trump’s degrading characterization of those who could benefit from the presence of family members already established here to obtain residency, as “chain migrants.” Some might prefer to call it family reunification.

Stephen Willbanks


About the Prohibition on Female Leadership

The BBC reported recently that 10 members of Donald Trump’s Cabinet belong to a Wednesday night bible study group run by Ralph Drollinger, a conservative fundamentalist Christian pastor. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attends, but cannot speak because the group does not allow women to teach. “(T)here is a prohibition of female leadership in marriage, and female leadership in the church. And those are clear in scripture … it doesn’t mean, in an egalitarian sense, that a woman is of lesser importance. It’s just that they have different roles,” Drollinger told the BBC. I doubt the bible says anything about female leadership in the U.S. government.

These are the people running our government for us? The 2018 elections cannot come too soon to address all these insults with shock and awe.

Anne Peyton

South Strafford