Let’s open our eyes, let’s tackle the problems

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As citizens of Tallahassee, we have a unique and special experience that is nurtured by the complex communities around us.

Tallahassee is a city unlike any other in the state due to the diversity of landscapes, economies, people and institutions that exist side by side.

The city is the seat of state government, the college town of two major universities, and home to farmers, politicians, captains of industry, and those living below the poverty line.

Our city is unique because just around the corner from my student apartment complex is the Old Capitol. Nearby are restaurants trying to hold their own, and just around the other is a bus station which unfortunately operates as an overnight accommodation for homeless people.

I am a student studying poverty, international relations and political science, and these are the observations I made and the life I lived for almost two years.

In fact, I recently discussed with my roommate how amazing the proximity of these different groups of people living in the city is. As the students head to their favorite bar on a Friday night, legislative aides pass by on their way out of the office.

They pass the Greyhound Tennessee Street station, where they observe groups of poor people.

The thing is, in Tallahassee, it’s hard to ignore the variety of people around us. So why is it so easy to dismiss responsibility for trying to improve the situation of our neighbors?

If we can clearly see the divisions within our own community and the problem of poverty at home, how can we ignore it elsewhere?

My internship at the Borgen Project, a non-profit organization that fights global poverty by lobbying for legislation to pass Congress, allowed me to translate the microcosm of the problems and the ignorance that I see in my city.

Much like in Tallahassee, a common feature of the world is the existence of extremes appearing side by side. Poverty and wealth, development and underdevelopment, ignorance and responsibility.

If we can implore our communities to recognize that these extremes exist here in our city, then we can begin to recognize them elsewhere. Once this acknowledgment is made, we can begin to address issues.

I urge our elected officials to listen to us as voters about the issues we see around us and across the world.

Rachel Silverboard

Rachel Silverboard is a sophomore studying International Business and Spanish at Florida State University.

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