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PLATTSBURGH — Sara Rowden first experience with immigrants was when she taught physical education at a middle school in Del Rio, Texas. in the 1960s.
The former Clinton Co. legislator grew up in central Illinois where, she said, farm culture was the only culture.
In Texas, she experienced exposure to a way of life she had not known before.
“It was a school district that the Mexican-American community in Del Rio had created because they felt that their children were being discriminated against in the Del Rio school district,” she said.
“Back in the ’60s, I’m sure they were absolutely correct.”
Rowden carried the lessons of that time with her.
“I learned that in this very, very different culture from me, the people were so incredibly good,” she said. “They were not scary. They were not offensive. They were good people.
“I have always said that experience was the foundation for everything that I have done since. I learned that people can be different from me, live different from me and there’s nothing wrong with that.
“I have a hard time understanding this fear of immigration that seems to be going on right now.”
Rowden spoke as a panelist for the League of Women Voters of the North Country’s recent discussion of today’s citizenship and immigration policies.
Former Plattsburgh City Court Judge Penny Clute moderated the talk, and attorney David Gervais, Clinton County Legislature Chair Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain), SUNY Plattsburgh professor of music Jo Ellen Miano and former Northeastern Clinton Central School French teacher Janet McFetridge joined Rowden on the panel.
Both Miano and McFetridge serve on the Executive Committee of Plattsburgh Cares — a humanitarian coalition formed in March 2017 to offer local assistance to immigrants.
An audience of about 30 League of Women Voters members and local citizens attended the event held at the Old Courthouse building in Plattsburgh.
By McKENZIE DELISLE for PRESS-REPUBLICAN
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