Acculturation

July 19, 2016

One of the issues that has helped Trump win the nomination is immigration. Immigration isn’t the problem, though, it’s the failure to assimilate. Instead of expecting people who come here from other countries to embrace American ideals and values, most of the leading voices in our nation tell them that such an expectation is racism or imperialism, and that immigrants should cling tightly to their foreign identities. This sort of thing just enhances the tribalism I worried about in my last post.

In contrast, consider this by Sarah Hoyt, an immigrant from Portugal:

Here’s the thing: acculturation is not easy.  As much as I was in love with American ideals, getting used to the way people do things every day; getting used to the way people interact, when I came from a highly formal gender/class divided society; getting used to the food; learning the history; learning the popular culture; learning why and how and when things were done — all that was massively difficult.  Not intellectually but at a baseline, gut level.  It was important and difficult, and sometimes I felt as if I were being mentally torn about.  There weren’t many days the first five years that I wasn’t homesick to the point of pain for the familiar sights and the big city I’d left behind, while I was stuck in Rock Hill South Carolina.  (And yes, part of that is that I am and will always be a city girl.)

If there were any way to avoid acculturating while reaping the benefits of being American, I’d have done it.  But I wanted to BE American and so I put myself through untold pain.

Change is hard, but if you make a change in where you live you should also expect to make other changes. Why did you leave, if you didn’t see something better in the place you left for?

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