Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Refugees and Immigrants
A never asked my grandmother or great grandmother if it was a coincidence or a conscious plan, but my grandmother's family immigrated from Europe on the eve of World War I. During World War II, one my father's uncles and a couple of his cousins came to the seek refuge in the relative safety of the United States - and never returned home. We are largely a country of immigrants. Some of my family has been here for nearly 400 years, other parts for just over 100 years. They came here seeking a better life.
Refugees and immigrants are not always welcomed with open arms. Those who become a part of the culture, who become part of the creole of the community, are much more welcome than those who do not. People who fail to become a part of the culture - stand out and never really reap the bounty of being here. They are permanent tourists, in the place that they live. If I moved to France (a fantasy in my dreams,) I would need to improve my French, dress like the locals, shop, cook and become a part of the local community, or I am merely living my American life in an inconvenient place - complaining about a lack of peanut butter in the local market. I love to travel, but living my American life in another country and culture for a couple of weeks, is very taxing for me and for the locals. I do it for a couple of weeks, if I was there longer than that, I would expect the locals to lose all patience with the crazy American who has never really learned the language.
Our immigration system is outdated and does not work well. We need to fix it. In doing so, we need to think about who we are as a culture and who we want to be 100 years from now. Are we still the great mixing bowl of the world?
If you moved to another country, would you try to become a local, or try to live in a bubble of your culture in a new place?