Monday, December 28, 2009
What do you think of America?
My dad has been trying for a number of years to bring his brothers and sister and their families to America. Over the past five years, it finally happened and they are all here, all 20 members (minus a few here and there).
It's funny to meet relatives that I've never met before. My siblings and I feel kind of famous when we're with them sometimes. They know so much about us. And you can totally see the resemblance between all of us that it's downright freaky sometimes.
The place that my family is from overseas, is not exactly the most caught up with the Western world. My family is from a very small, very rural village of Bangladesh. A place where electricity and running water are new. And a place where you'll be lucky to find a doctor that can treat you when your ill and provide you with the correct medicine. The past ten years, this place has not made much progress and advancements.
But it was/is home to my father and his family. My uncles were highly-qualified teachers who taught the community about the religion of Islam and its fundamental practices. They were affiliated with the local mosque since it was founded. Their children were all part of that community as well and went to school there with their friends.
Of course I've never been there, I'm just going off of what others have told me.
So since they've all come to America, they have been asked countless times:
What do you think of America?
Not everyone is like me and says they love America and cant get enough of this place. My Aunt actually thinks it's too cold here. Well of course she would. This is the first time they've seen snow. The first time they've had to layer and wear socks, mittens, and boots. It's the first time they've been in a car with a female driver and the first time they are able to visit another relatives house without an incredibly long journey ahead of them.
It's home to me, but not to them. It's a foreign world where everyone speaks a funny language, wears different clothes, and eats weird birds. (They all had turkey for the first time the other day at our house.)
My uncles think it's extremely boring here. With the cold weather, they are cooped up inside the house all day long. It's also a culture shock. Over in Bangladesh, they only saw Bangladeshis. And now here in the states, they see a multicultural world. Black, White, Polish, Yugoslavian, Bosnian, Syrian, Palestinian, Yemeni, Pakistani, Indian, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans. Not to mention the different languages they hear too.
My cousins say they love it. I think they're just saying that for fear of offending us.
It sounds like my family is a bit Amish, if you ask me. Minus the riding buggies and electricity bit.
Seeing them out of their comfort zone makes me feel sad at times. America is my home. Not theirs. The only reason they came here was for a better life. Same reason a lot of people came/come here. Our family is just a generation late with the process. My dad wanted to bring them all here for hopes of them gaining a good education. Let's face it, education in the area they are from is not up to par with what it should be. Lack of books. Lack of teachers. Lack of resources.
And it sounds like they came from a totally different era, not a different country. But this is real. Although we're living in the 21st century and it may be hard to believe, people out there still live in areas where something as minuscule as electricity, is a luxurious item.
I just hope as the years progress and as they become familiar with the Western world, they can at least call it their second home.