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Friday, Aug. 1, 2014: UMaine international students, Maine employment, love of coaching


Recruitment targets

As a faculty member at the University of Maine, I would like to respond to the July 25 BDN article, “Program to recruit international students to University of Maine System falls short of target.” It is important to make readers aware that the University of Maine has hosted thousands of international undergraduate and graduate students who have chosen to attend the university because of its world class academic programs. For many years, international enrollment has fluctuated between 350 to almost 500, including students enrolled in degree programs, participants in study abroad exchanges, as well as students of English as a foreign language who attend the Intensive English Institute.

These representatives of more than 70 countries enrich the classroom experience for students and faculty alike. They were the founders many years ago of what has become a UMaine tradition, the daylong cultural program (displays, performances, traditional dress and food court) known as Culturefest, which takes place in the fall.

It was international students who began another tradition, International Dance Festival, where students from within the UMaine community perform traditional dances of their home countries in two public performances in February. A number of domestic students join in the fun by learning and performing alongside their friends. These events offer marvelous opportunities to the local community to learn more about the world beyond Maine’s horizons.

Each of the University of Maine System campuses is the academic home to international students, and Study Group is not the only avenue for bringing them here.

Jane Smith


Misleading attack

The July 28 BDN OpEd by Democratic Senate President Justin Alfond perpetuates a misleading line of attack by opponents of Gov. Paul LePage’s economic reforms.

Rankings that compare Maine with other states in terms of the total number of jobs created ignore the fact that Maine has a lower-than-average population growth and the oldest population in America.

According to the New York Times — a paper that is no friend of Republicans — the best measure of economic performance when comparing states is the employment rate, which is the percentage of people actually employed in a state. That’s because the unemployment rate doesn’t account for people who give up on their job searches. By that measure, The Times finds, Maine ranks third in the nation for employment growth since the Great Recession.

The reality that liberal politicians choose to ignore is the fact that they own the status quo after 40 years of near one-party rule in Maine. LePage and Republicans have enacted reforms to pay down debt, reduce the tax burden, reform regulations and move Mainers from welfare to work, and Democratic politicians have opposed all of these reforms at every step of the way.

Considering the Democrats’ obstruction, it’s a wonder Maine’s economy has made the progress that it has. One has to ask, would Democrat Mike Michaud shake things up in Augusta the way LePage has, or would he be content with the status quo?

David Sorensen

Communications Director

Maine Republican Party

Coach widow

I spend the weeks before baseball season mentally preparing myself to be a baseball coach widow. My husband spends what little time he has outside of work, coaching baseball for local boys. Time is love, and as a mother, I know that better than most.

However, I don’t feel hurt by his choice to spend his free time coaching. His love of the game and dedication to the players doesn’t take away from his love for us. If anything, it makes my admiration for him grow. The game of baseball for him isn’t simply about the wins and losses, although winning is certainly a goal. The time he spends coaching is about the children. It’s about teaching them not only the fundamentals of the game but also about life: how to win and lose gracefully, work as a team, be respectful and keep a positive attitude.

While many moms and dads are busy critiquing coaching decisions, and pushing for more playing time for their children, my husband is teaching their sons how to be better men, on and off the field. Next time these parents want to gripe about a coaching decision, I urge them to remember that what their son will take from the season will more likely be about friendship than innings played. Also, dear parents, remember that while my husband is dedicating his spare time to your children, he’s missing out on time with his own family. Nonetheless, my son and I will be at every game cheering on not only the coach but your children, too.

Nichole Dionne


Candidates focus

If candidates are wondering what issues are of the greatest concern to Maine’s most active voting demographic, a new AARP survey can help. AARP recently surveyed 2,000 registered voters in Maine, age 50 and older, to see what issues they find most important for candidates to focus on.

The results of the survey revealed that older Mainers will likely vote for a candidate who will work on creating age-friendly communities, work to ensure financial stability for seniors, support caregivers and fight against fraud in the state. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed considered it a top or high priority for Maine elected officials to support age-friendly communities. One important message to the candidates from the survey: Older adults in Maine want to stay in their homes as they age.

Another major issue of concern for older voters is financial security. People want to be able to retire and still have the security of knowing that they can afford to live their lives. This means having affordable homes and affordable prescription drugs, as well as protecting programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Voters age 50 and older make up the majority of people at the polls in Maine, so candidates might consider addressing the main issues identified in the survey. Working on these issues will make Maine a better place for everyone as we all continue aging.

Rich Livingston

AARP Maine Volunteer State President


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