Working at the UGA Archives with Gil & Gang was a wonderful time. I think I worked there for almost a year after leaving Copy Services because Gil came flat out and offered me a job with him in his security locked area.
Working there at the same time was a young man named Dai. He had the worst job of all: to go through this old alumni card catalog and put all the information into this database.
He was very quiet and he never really joined in our fun, which usually involved one of Gilbert's many interests, such as William Shatner, funny emails, or random trivia, with the occasionally massacre of Leonard Cohen lyrics ("And then we'll eat your skin"). He would usually just smile and go on about his work. I'm not whether he disliked us, had a reserved manner, or didn't understand due to a cultural gap. Either way, I hope he knows how much I admire him and how much Gilbert cherished the work he did.
Dai's one dream in all the world was to come to the United States, become a dentist, and move back to his little village and take care of their teeth. Maybe he had aspirations beyond this, but to the best of my knowledge, he was living with relatives, putting up with Shatner's "Mr. Tamborine Man", and typing millions of words in order to check a tiny village for cavities.
And when Dai got rejected from Dental school for the first time, I could hear a great sadness in Gilbert's voice. Dai wasn't the only one working for his village: Gilbert and all of UGA's Hargrett Library was invested in this boy and his noble mission.
I felt a little choked up too. Is there NO good left in the world? Are the most valuable people those that wish to move to rich white suburban areas and clean, polish, and whiten sugar-coated teeth?
Today, I find there is still good in the world: Dai has been accepted to dental school in Florida for this upcoming Fall. Gilbert didn't say more than that about Dai in his email, but I can feel the pride in his words. I'm proud of him too, maybe even a little teary as I type this. If anyone deserved to move forward, it's Dai.
This, to me, is a the good America can do for the world. Not bombs and Democracy, just one village at a time.