Posted by: universallearningcentreblog | September 11, 2011


I was about 19 when I first left the comfort of the U.S. to visit a less developed country.  Aside from a wide variety of trips around the U.S., I had only ever been to Canada and France.  As a freshman in college, though, and at the bidding of my roommate who came back to our dorm with applications, I applied and got accepted to the abroad program to Guadalajara for the following year.  I had only had Spanish 101, and if I’m completely honest, I barely had that as I tended to skip class frequently (there was no attendance policy!) and cram for written exams.  My roommate, on the other hand, had several years of Spanish, so I figured we’d be fine.  Which, we absolutely were.  And we fell in love with Mexico, completely and utterly in love.

My roommate (left) and me, Guadalajara, 1990

At the time, there was a political campaign for Carlos Salinas de Gortari and the PRI (political party) that emphasized an anti-poverty focus.  The slogan was “Solidaridad.”  Since I’ve been truthful about skipping Spanish class so often, I might as well confess that I did not fully understand the word, “solidarity,” and I did not pay much attention to Salinas’ political campaign.  But the commercials, print, televised and radio spots, were catchy and the sentiment was electrifying.  So, my first real understanding of the word was in Spanish, which, for some reason means when I hear the word in any language, I automatically translate it mentally into Spanish (which is much more fun to say anyway!), and I mentally transport to the streets of Guadalajara where I passed hundreds of “Solidaridad” posters plastered all over the city for months on end.

Mexican Postage Stamp, circa 1991

Today, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, my heart is again hearing the chants of “Solidaridad” that I heard in Mexico.  The principals of Mexico’s political campaign had little to do with the affect the word had on me, but everything to do with the understanding of people wanting, maybe needing, to be united in a common cause.  So today, I offer thoughts of solidarity to those who lost family and friends on 9/11, and to the United States of America which had its very fiber tested.

The world commemorates 9/11 (borrowed from

Solidarity is perhaps an idealistic concept that is mainly reserved for the purpose of persuading people to buy into some idea of a common fellowship, but looking back on 9/11, there is no better word that comes to mind to describe the feeling people around the world felt.  We felt solidarity.

This blog is devoted to ULC and we try to focus on the organization, its activities, education, developing countries, Haiti.  But it is of course, no stretch of the mind to remember the solidarity we all felt when the earthquake hit Haiti over a year ago; when the earthquake and ensuing tsunami pummeled Japan this year; when the tsunami in the Indian Ocean wreaked havoc in 2004; when Katrina wiped out New Orleans; when planes hit the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, PA, changing everything.  Solidarity brings us together in times of crisis, in times of panic and devastation.  These events serve to remind us that we are all one, we are all united in our time here on this earth, and that we come together to pull each other back up without regard to religion, nationality, economic status, political preference, sexual orientation, education, or any of the variety of ways we distinguish ourselves other days.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Today we stand united in solidarity.  Nos unimos en solidaridad.  Nou ini an solidarite.  And God help us hold tight to that sentiment tomorrow and all the rest of our days.


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