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From COVID to school shootings, this Montana teen talks about a horrific new normal

Amare Swierc (left) and her mother, Susan Frauenglass Swierc (right).

As a part of the 2022 StoryCorps mobile tour, mother and daughter Susan Frauenglass Swierc and Amare Swierc discuss the perspective-shifting qualities of growing up in an era with abundant national hazards.

CW: This excerpt contains mentions of school shootings. Listener (and reader) discretion is advised.

Susan Frauenglass Swierc: As you guys have been teenagers and you’re more adventurous, I’m feeling much less adventurous. [Laughs] And especially with COVID, and school shootings, and the, you know, cultural protests and things. It’s been harder to be fearless as a parent. So, do you feel like that, um, some of that—those consequences or those influences are... Like, are you getting a different message from me as a parent?

Amare Swierc: I think that with everything going on in the world right now, the message I’m getting from you is just that you have to think about things before you dive in. You can’t just openly, blindly almost, follow your heart into whatever you want to do. There’s a lot more complications, I feel like. I mean, I mean, this school year itself has been wild, trying to navigate the re-opening of things after COVID. And I mean, having a shooter lockdown on our third day of school—I mean, everything is just kind of going haywire this year, but learn... I feel like from a youth’s perspective, it’s a lot easier to, kind of, see things and think they’re more normal than they are.

Like, with a Texas shooting a couple of days ago, I just saw you in complete distress, because it was a horrific tragedy. And it was so horrible, but I remember feeling, when I heard about it, like, This is normal. Like, I was kind of shocked by my reaction more than the actual news, because I felt like I was seeing something that was normal. And I was shocked by my lack of expression, compared to your expression, because it’s just something I’ve grown up with. So, I think that the idea of being fearless in a world where you can't disregard fear is a lot more challenging, but it also makes people think more deeply about everything they’re doing.

The 2022 StoryCorps mobile tour is recording at the Missoula Public Library, giving Missoulians the opportunity to preserve their conversations and stories for future generations. StoryCorps Missoula is brought to you in part by Clearwater Credit Union, Partners Creative, and Montana State Fund.

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