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Zeynep Tufekci has seen America in ways almost no Americans would see it.

Right now, he is a professor at the University of North Carolina. He is an immigrant, and when he was new to this country he found institutions he just had no idea existed anywhere.

The first thing that astonished him was the post office, he wrote in last Sunday's New York Times. "There were standardized rates, and you could just slap a stamp on your letter, drop it in a mailbox, and it would go to its destination." He told his friends back home in Turkey about all the services of the post office, including six-day delivery and pickup at your front door, and they were incredulous. They thought he was lying or kidding.

Then he told them about another amazing public service in his new country.

"My first time in a library in the United States was very brief: I walked in, looked around, and ran right back out in panic, certain that I had accidentally used the wrong entrance. Surely, these open stacks full of books were reserved for staff only. I was used to libraries being rare, and their few books inaccessible. To this day, my heart races a bit in a library."

Wouldn't it be wonderful if every American saw the post office and their public library as the unique services they are in this wide world?

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