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A Welcoming Opportunity 

Editor:

We wish to thank the capacity crowd that came to our Aug. 20 "Community Potluck to Welcome HSU Students" in Arcata, and the city of Arcata and the Retired Senior Volunteers Program (RSVP) for co-sponsoring the potluck. Home-cooked dishes were served to 75 to 100 students, who ate heartily and met dozens of community members who shared about the many area opportunities for students — recreational, volunteer and part-time employment.

A small group of community members have planned for months to host the potluck, with the intention of helping all students, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, and gender, feel welcome in our community ("Work in Progress," Aug. 24). We hope to act against racism and prejudice through getting to know each other over food and friendship, and to open our hearts and homes to students who may feel marginalized in our communities.

Students and community members expressed their enthusiasm to connect, and learn about and be engaged in the surrounding communities. One wrote, "I am interested in hiking, surfing, appreciating the outdoors and connecting with others ... Thank you all for putting on this event!" A retired professor said, "The students at my table were appreciative of the effort and we had a great conversation. They were so excited and so looking forward to their college experience, it almost made me wish I was still teaching and working with students again."

RSVP and Volunteer Center of the Redwoods (VCOR) have joined with the city of Arcata to establish the "Home Away from Home" program by hosting these community potlucks. "Dinner with Friends" is a beginning program to host dinners and social gatherings in community members' homes for interested students, particularly students of color and others unsure of their welcome in the community. Persons interested in helping with future potlucks and/or becoming a "Dinner with Friends" host, can contact RSVP/VCOR at 630-5081 or vcor@a1aa.org.

Terry Uyeki, McKinleyville

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