It’s been a week and two days since Monday, January 17, the day that this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day fell upon. For a number of reasons, that day and the ideas that go with it are ones that I have been turning around in my head rather often since then. In commemoration of Dr. King’s birthday, Wittenberg had asked a man by the name of Cleveland Sellers to speak at a special convocation marking the occasion. Dr. Sellers, a man who knew men like Martin Luther King Jr. as friends, marched for many of the same reasons that he did, and – indeed – took a bullet for it, got me thinking about the ways in which issues of race, discrimination and belonging in the United States are so unlike the issues (or lack thereof) that are dealt with where I come from, as well as in many of the countries I’ve lived in. Although racial and ethnic issues definitely exist in Europe today – and these issues are spread far from homogeneously throughout the continent – the meaning and emotions they take on across the pond, I would argue, are distinctively different. As I listened to this year’s speaker, I couldn’t help but feel that I was witnessing living history, the legacy of a historic movement that happened not at all long ago and is continuing to this day. As a foreigner, the realities and the people who still remember the days of campaigning for the equal rights of humans in America, are, culturally, extremely fascinating. The small, but tender population of Wittenberg also made me feel an unmistakable sense of community and support in its devotion to the very same themes Dr. Sellers spoke about and the value which they hold today, both in Springfield and around the country. These differences and similarities aren’t things you necessarily think about when coming to the States, but when you realize their existence, they can really absorb you.
In other news, Polis House, the “international dorm,” got a new multi-region DVD player over the holidays and we celebrated its arrival by watching an Icelandic movie called “Börn Náttúrunnar.”
Don’t slip on the ice,