Friday, October 28, 2011

Welcome to America.

The other day I saw a bumper sticker that read, "Welcome to America- SPEAK ENGLISH".  I was offended, but busy with the kids so I passed it by.  But hours later it came to mind again and instantly tears were streaming down my face- which shocked me.  But I just felt particularly frustrated and hurt- because we are friends with a family who moved here from Africa about a year ago, with absolutely NO English knowledge, and I've seen how incredibly hard it has been for them to learn.  Their children are seemingly effortless in their work to learn English- they've actually begun to forget French completely.  But for the parents, it is very, very hard.  And it is a matter of absolute NECESSITY to learn it, so they can work. 

I'm so impressed with how much they've learned- they are huge role models for me to not ever complain or limit myself about ANYTHING- because they are doing what they have to do, and doing it well, so I can too.  I have learned SO MUCH from the refugee families I've met this year. 

But that bumper sticker implies things that are small-minded, and misinformed.  And now that our good friends are learning English, they'll be able to read it too. 

I don't need to explain why the sticker made me angry.  I just needed to post about it so I can get it out of my mind.  Done.


Anonymous said...

Hey there, Megan.

Thanks for this post. I've been considering commenting on it for a while and decided to do it today.

What you said here really hit me. To be honest, I generally get a little 'ticked off' at servers at fast food places/restaurants, etc. who don't speak English very well. What you said really made me think!

I guess my position is best explained like this--it's those who don't _try_ to learn English that bother me.

[I keep typing and deleting. This is hard to put down!]

I am fond toward the idea of our country as a 'melting pot.' I truly am proud of that heritage, where we all came and come from. But at some point, all those cultures did become "American." I just wasn't alive when that all occurred. Somewhere along the line, all those cultures became one. No, not strictly speaking--we still have those separate elements that make us different, but we kind of 'fit together,' wouldn't you say? It's tricky, now, when all that 'melting' isn't so common, to figure out how to respond. That bumper sticker is one response, and yours is another.

Well, I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to say, but I decided to throw my jumbled thoughts out there.

Respond if you wish--I would love to hear your whole perspective.

Megan said...

No problem! I don't have much space for blogging right now, and don't think there's a chance I'd get to writing anything too involved any time soon-about any topic- but feel free to shoot me an email or facebook me if you'd like, and we can talk about it that way.