Saturday, April 1, 2006

Could you pass the US Citizenship Test?

Could You Pass the US Citizenship Test?

All this talk about immigration ... I wrote back in the early days of adopting Melanie about our visit to the INS (now BCIS).  I commented on the rainbow of people who were there, standing in line for hours.  I remember once I met a skycap at the airport.  He had a very thick gorgeous accent, and being the curious nut that I am, I engaged him in conversation.  Where are you from?  He was from Nigeria (I think .. it was somewhere in West Africa.  40 lashes with a wet noodle for me for not remembering) and he had won an immigration lottery to come to the US.  Only him though ... he left his family behind.  He was in the process of trying to get his wife to join him in the US, but oh the hoops through which he had to jump.  So many of us take for granted what we have here in this country.  We are snobs, that is the bottom line.  We look down on people from other countries -- or worse, don't bother to learn anything about them or their culture.  Why do I feel so strongly about this?  I am in the middle of reading a book called "Third Culture Kids" about kids like me who grew up overseas, immersed in cultures other than our parents'.  We come back to this country after having lived as a minority for most of our lives and are depressed and saddened by the apathy that we find in many of our classmates.  How civil wars and true, dirt floor poverty were once real to us (we touched it!), yet are only a black & white snapshot in a newspaper in this country that no one noticed, because it didn't affect them.  We are aghast at the flippancy of our so-called peers, who really aren't peers of ours at all.  We are older than our years, jaded, perhaps, and as a result we come across as snobs, or aloof weirdos.  We never fit in, always feel restless because we don't feel at home.  Anywhere.  We can't go back to the country we lived in before, and we don't feel right in the US.  So we are, basically, emotionally homeless. 

Do you ever give your skycap a second thought?  How about the guys who mow the highway?  Or do your landscaping?  Who are the maids at the motel you stayed in?  Aren't you curious about how they got here?  How many of their family members had to stay behind?  Mostly we just complain that they can't speak English.  But how many of us learn Chinese or French or Hindi?  Where the heck did this soapbox come from?

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