Hoping for a better, kinder new year

Several people — some young, most in their middle years, and even a centenarian — took a few minutes out of their busy lives recently to respond to a City Paper reporter’s questions on what kind of year 2022 has been for them and society. They also shared their hopes for the coming new year. What surprised us were the common threads that ran through their responses. A couple of people also reflected on the pandemic’s lingering effects that highlighted a need to care for others. Here’s what they had to say. —Herb Frazier


Abigail Santiago

Abigail Santiago
Community health worker in Berkeley County

I saw a lot more events and awareness in 2022 of the Hispanic and Latino community and culture. More organizations were doing things for the community like a Hispanic business expo to share information about their businesses and connect with other Latinos. I also saw opportunities for women to sell their items and to make connections. More students are taking license exams for careers through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

For 2023, I hope more activity will continue for the Latino community but to make sure that some of the barriers are removed. What’s needed are more interpreters to help families understand services available to them. We also need more transportation and more resources for children who weren’t born in the United States.

Dr. Jacqueline McLemore

Dr. Jacqueline McLemore
A Mississippi native who works as an executive coach and lives in Summerville

In 2022, I felt the mobility of being out in the community. I am still relatively new to the area. The year before, I felt very closed in. That closed-in quality reflects on how there is so little trust between people. I came from a life where I was traveling a lot and the pandemic brought all of that in. So in 2022, I felt more at ease, and I saw more neighbors casually, and I went to more places.

Time is really important in 2023 to build on 2022. On a personal level, I am hoping for time to read more books, some that are new and some that are old. I am hoping for time to play, hike, be outdoors and enjoy my family and friends. On a larger level, I want to live a braver, more compassionate life by doing my part to support democratic ideals: liberty, justice and equality. I also want to take a cooking class with Emily Meggett on Edisto Island and meet a few more neighbors.

Emma Phyu
First-year nursing student at the Palmer Campus of Trident Technical College

I found out that there are a lot of good people in my classes. This gives me hope.
In 2023, I hope to study better and make good grades in my nursing [program]. My country is under a military coup, and I hope my country can shed the military coup regime. I first came to the U.S. nine years ago. That is part of the reason why I came to this country.

Phyu is from Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country between Bangladesh and Thailand.

Darryl Brown
Former truck driver who lives in Charleston

Darryl Brown

I lost more than 15 friends in [2021] as a result of Covid, drug use, heart conditions and a lot of different things. I also lost my sister and my brother-in-law that same year. I made it a point this year to be connected to people and make sure I check in on family and friends and engage in what is really important like the history of Liberty Hill. My father grew up in Liberty Hill, and I’d like to see the history not be forgotten. This year, people became disconnected because of the lingering effects of the pandemic. We are less concerned about the well being of others. For 2023, I would like to see people have more respect for one another and pay attention to their health.

Louise Roper Harris

Louise Roper Harris
Summerville resident and a 1943 graduate of the Avery Institute Teacher Training Department

Society hasn’t taken away some of these guns. Every time you turn the television on, there is a mass shooting somewhere. I would like guns to stop being sold or for more people who shoot people to go to jail. Find that person who did the shooting and lock them up. I don’t go out that much and people who are out in the public are always subject to getting killed.

Harris did not want to reveal her age, but her family confirms she’s a centenarian.

Robert Teets

Robert Teets
A retired salesman who lives on Johns Island

I felt like 2022 divided the country. It was more about people’s perceptions than facts. There was not much middle ground. People were either on one side or the other and didn’t want to meet in the middle. We all are different, but we have a common love for the country and a common love for our government.

My hope for 2023 is to bring people together. I am not talking politically. I am talking about a love for our country and love for each other and caring for each other.

Rose Dennis
An Atlanta native and College of Charleston junior majoring in arts management

Rose Dennis

The reversal of Roe v. Wade was very shocking. I never felt it would happen. I don’t know how we go about counteracting that as a society. But I think relying on our community to rediscover how we engage with politics on a local and national level is really important. The way the College of Charleston and the greater Charleston area have reacted to events is nice to see and gives me hope. The way the college reacted to the shooting at a gay club in Colorado gave me hope. The Gender and Sexual Equity Center hosted a vigil and had open conversation about what that means for our queer community in Charleston. It was hopeful to see that.

In 2023, I hope we continue to build a community based on what we value as individuals to create something bigger and to create change.


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