Shore Thing: A North Beach Portrait | Culture | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Shore Thing: A North Beach Portrait

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North Beach is located in one of America’s whitest states — the slice of Vermont’s “west coast” even has a white-bread name. So diversity among the beachgoers might be your last expectation. Yet Burlington’s sandy playground has become a multicultural parade. Just listen and you’ll hear languages and accents from Europe, Africa and Asia. Young men from Sudan laugh and play soccer while a guy from Vietnam goofs around with a remote-controlled car. A young mother from Albania dips her feet in the cool water; a family from India cooks pork on a grill.

They’re American now, and doing their best to fit in. They have the same needs as everyone else: cooling down, playing games, eating, hanging out with family or friends. They gave up a lot to get here: Their wrenching stories tell of running from political oppressors, searching for economic prosperity, leaving behind everything and everyone familiar. Life can be hard here, too, with obstacles including a new language and the universal pang of loneliness.

But on a sweltering August day, everybody just wants to beat the heat. North Beach provides a refuge in more ways than one.