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Unexpected Confluence of Communities

March 06, 2019

Editor’s Note: Shortly after Cameron Swallow joined her husband, President John Swallow, at Carthage in August 2017, she decided to get to know her new home. She kicked off a “Welcome Home Tour” and invited Carthage students, faculty, staff, and alumni to be her tour guides. She started a blog and traveled with Carthaginians to different spots in Kenosha, Racine, and beyond. Now in year two of her husband’s presidency, Cameron is continuing the Welcome Home Tour in order to get to know Carthage — and its people and connections — even better.

• • •

I thought it was just me and my computer, signing up to read a story to third-graders at a KUSD school for United Way’s 10th annual Readers are Leaders event. The event, which took place in schools across Kenosha County on Tuesday, March 5, is held in conjunction with Read Across America and the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

I had suggested to a friend at church that she sign up as well. I thought it would be nice to know someone at the event’s initial gathering, held before volunteers scattered to their different school sites.

On Tuesday morning, I parked at Gateway Technical College, reflecting on how lost I’d felt the first time I tried to find Madrigrano Auditorium on that campus, and how much I’d learned in the intervening year.

When I entered the auditorium, a Carthage employee recognized me immediately and welcomed me to the event, pointing out a large group of very tall young men all dressed in red and black —the Carthage men’s volleyball team! I talked to the coaches and congratulated the team on participating in this community service.

Cameron Swallow poses for a photograph with the Carthage Men's Volleyball Team at United Way's an...Cameron Swallow poses for a photograph with the Carthage Men's Volleyball Team at United Way's annual Readers are Leaders event March 5, 2019.

The program began. United Way officials thanked many participants and sponsors, including Carthage. I had not been aware of the sponsorship, signing up alone with my computer. During his remarks, a slideshow of past events played on a screen behind him. I recognized several people in the pictures, most memorably Torchie, who was extremely visible!

In the crowd I saw a lot of familiar faces: members of the Kindness Week Committee I served on in the fall, librarians, Carthage and Gateway staff, and a group of tutors from the Kenosha Literacy Council where I have just joined the board. 

Cameron Swallow and fellow Kenosha Literacy Council tutors pose for a photograph in their new Rea...Cameron Swallow and fellow Kenosha Literacy Council tutors pose for a photograph in their new Readers are Leaders T-shirts at the March 5 United Way event.

I had a great time at Jeffrey Elementary School with the third-grade class, who had interesting questions and stories to share, who filled in the rhyming words in the Dr. Seuss story when I left space for them, and who were amused by my southern accent. But I had expected to have a great time in the classroom.

The surprising thing about today was what a great gathering of volunteers it was in Kenosha, and how my little pockets of knowledge and understanding about my new community are beginning to expand and overlap. I think I may really live here!

Be a tour guide

Want to show Cameron Swallow your favorite part of Kenosha? Be a tour guide.