Letter: Keep North Village intact

This community of student parents should be protected

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Letter: Keep North Village intact

(Shao Yu Tseng/ Daily Collegian)

(Shao Yu Tseng/ Daily Collegian)

(Shao Yu Tseng/ Daily Collegian)

(Shao Yu Tseng/ Daily Collegian)

By Letter Contributor

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The former Mayor of Taipei City, an alum of the University of Massachusetts,  came back to visit in 2017 and we had a great dinner at Judie’s, one of his favorite restaurants in the town. Mayor Hao wanted to make sure it was as good as it was 40 years ago.

During our dinner, he not only shared about his student life at UMass, but also how much this campus has changed since he graduated. He and his wife took a walk on the campus and were amazed by the newly renovated undergraduate dorms, the No. 1 dining commons and the fancy academic buildings. They also made a trip to a special place. This is where they settled their family as young international scholars, where his wife gave birth to their first child after taking her final exam, where the child’s grandparents held their grandchild for the first time, where the grandma stayed to take care of the baby so the parents could go to classes and where they met and made bonds with other families of international scholars.

This is North Village.

Mayor Hao and his wife were glad to see that after 40 something years, their apartment, F22, is still there. F22 was their first apartment to call home on a foreign land. Just like the cherry blossom tree in front of F22, it blooms, grows and ingrains deep in the soil. It remains intact, sturdy and strong to provide shade for those who lived and live in F22 and to look after the community thriving on the north side of the campus.

I am saddened by the news that UMass is tearing down North Village, not only because I am a resident, but also because I want to know why this is happening. What will be torn down is more than the physical buildings, but also the community of vulnerable student-parents and international students on campus.

For those who do not know, North Village is a family housing community for married students or those who have dependents. I have lived in North Village for almost three years and have a deep bond with the community. Mayor Hao’s experience resonates so much with mine and so many other families in our community. When I met Mayor Hao, I was three months pregnant. Just like other North Village babies, I gave birth to our first child in our North Village apartment. I still remember the first day we brought him home and showed him around the neighborhood. Thanks to the community, we did not need to buy a lot of nursery items, because our community shares with one another. We met so many student parents and their babies in our neighborhood, including K who is from Senegal and has two daughters and is about to finish her doctoral degree, the X’s, a Chinese couple who we like to go for a walk with after dinner, Jennie, our old neighbor, who lives with her eight-year-old son and works on her master degree, T, our new neighbor from Turkey who just gave birth to a baby who has the same birthday as our baby and H, whose mother from China is also here to visit and keeps my mom company. There are so many more of us, internationally and domestically, trying to better ourselves and the lives of our loved ones. North Village provides a welcoming and safe space for us to mingle and support one another. When there are days I feel overwhelmed by classes, work, and childbearing, I know that there are people in the neighborhood who are in this too and will reach out if I need them.

I came back for my masters degree in higher education and I have learned a lot about what higher education institutions are committed to. It is funny that in the sea of academic journals, the words inclusion and diversity keep appearing, yet the actions the institution are against the spirit of those promises. If our basic right of feeling safe and having shelter are taken away, how do we restore our dignity and respect our differences?

 

Shao Yu, Tseng