Opinion Piece Written by Trinity College Student Published in 'Hartford Courant'

After Semester in Paris, Clara Abramson ’17 Sees Ways to Help City of Hartford

Hartford, Connecticut, March 3, 2016 – Clara Abramson ’17 spent the fall 2015 semester studying abroad at the Trinity in Paris program campus. Abramson took courses for her public policy and French majors, along with classes at Sciences Po, enjoyed French food and culture, travelled all over Europe, and lived in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13. But Abramson came back with more than souvenirs and memories; she came back with an idea of how to help Hartford youth.

“After the attacks, I started thinking about the situation it left all of us in,” Abramson said. “The French and those who lived in Paris were scared as they went about their daily lives. I saw a correlation between the Muslim population and refugees who were being ostracized and watched, and realized that many people looked at the minority population in Hartford the same way.”

Inspired by the issues she saw in both Hartford and Paris, Abramson wrote and submitted an opinion piece to the Hartford Courant. “As public policy majors we are trained not only to look at issues, but also to find solutions,” she said.

In her op-ed, “Paris, Hartford Must Lift All Neighborhoods,” which was published in the Courant February 10, Abramson noted that there are many similarities (and some important differences) between jihadist terrorists and gangs in Hartford. She explained that Jihadi terrorism is the most extreme manifestation of indoctrination that is similar to the message that drives people to gangs in Hartford: “Society is rigged against you, you’ll never get a job, the mainstream won’t accept you, the way to succeed is through violence and breaking the law,” she wrote.

But, Abramson added, there is a solution.

Abramson called upon readers to understand that all citizens deserve an equal opportunity to get ahead in life, which is achievable by setting up mentorship programs for children. Similar to what happened in Paris, a community can receive a bad name because of the actions of a few twisted minds. If we are able to prevent evil actions from the beginning, then we can begin to make a difference, she wrote.

Abramson said that mentors have contributed to her own success over the years. In high school, adults encouraged and believed in her, giving her the support and advice needed to create a resume, practice interviewing, and find a job. Abramson believes that a similar mentorship program, if available to all teenagers, would offer Hartford youths a smoother path to success. She suggested that in order to make this dream a reality, Hartford area universities and colleges “should commit to having a majority of their students engaged with communities in need.” She saw first-hand the effect a college-age mentor could have when she worked with middle school students at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy on Broad Street.

Abramson, who is from Newton, Mass., said that she would love to write another op-ed at some point, and the responses from readers only added to her excitement. “It was great to read the letter to the editor and know that someone agrees and saw a value in what I wrote,” she said. “People won’t always agree, and they may sometimes misinterpret what you are saying,” she said, but it’s all part of the process of partaking in a public discussion.

Written by Ursula Paige Granirer ’17

Photo by Andrew J. Concatelli