I am a seventh-grader in the Portland Public Schools. One of the many life lessons we have been taught in school is to accept people for who they are, no matter what they look like on the outside.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent display at Merrill Auditorium, where he implied that Somali refugees are potential terrorists, completely contradicted that teaching. All my life, I’ve gone to school, played with and lived among Somali refugees and can personally tell you that they are some of the most humanitarian and loving people I have ever met.

Before being a student at East End Community School, I too was unfamiliar with other cultures. I refused to interact with those of other cultures. That was when I was 5 years old. After spending years getting to know other cultures, I began to celebrate diversity. From other cultures, I learned more than I ever could from a textbook – just like the rest of America should.

The world has so much to offer, if only people could learn to accept it. Somalis and other refugees don’t come to America to cause problems – they come to start better lives for themselves and their children, just like anyone else. They come to escape war, only to face ridicule by xenophobic people like Donald Trump.

If I could learn to appreciate and accept other cultures before the age of 10, why can’t Trump and his supporters? I hope for future children to be able to have the same experience I did with diversity.

We are the children. We are the future. History shows that intolerance has dire consequences, and if there is one thing I learned in my social studies classes, it is that history repeats itself.

Devyn Shaughnessy