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.


Anonymous said...

You sound as close-minded as them. It sucks that they are too cold to enjoy themselves though. But it sounds like they are seeing a diverse part of America, and that's just one part of it.

Anonymous said...

I don't think your closed minded. Well..maybe a little. But your family isnt closed minded at all. Dear Anonymous, why don't you throw yourself into Bangledesh. Its not easy getting used to change. Thats why its called change.

ModestJustice said...

I don't think you are close-minded at all, what the heck?

America is a diverse country and the opportunity of a better life is what drove millions (including my own parents) here.

It is true that we take things for granted in this country. The very basics aren't even guaranteed in many of our own parent's countries.

Soda and Candy said...

Even without the massive climate difference, language barrier and technology gap, moving countries can still be huge for a person, even just emotionally. I can't even imagine how hard it must be for your family. Just because there are certain things about America that make their life easier, doesn't mean moving here is easy.

Actually this reminded me of a documentary called "God Grew Tired Of Us", it's incredibly eye-opening.

I wish your family all the best and I'm glad you were able to get them over here and get to know them. I bet having family helps a lot.

Mrs. Cullen said...


Artistic Logic said...

cute post. its nice that you understand their transition

im pretty sure women can drive in bangladesh too ;)

Faith said...

Does their motive for emigration really matter? I mean you said it,, they came for a better life. Not because they HATE their country! It’s too early for them to love this new place the way you do. Being attached to another place doesn’t mean it’s wrong to be and live in America. It’s just natural homesick. I’d feel bored anywhere new to me. once I start discovering and making new friends.. it simply becomes “my place”

Off topic, I’ve always thought you were Egyptian.. have no idea why!

dewapelangi said...

good information bos. thank's a lot

kiky said...

america...?? i want visit

Little T said...

Anything new is going to be scary and foreign for a while. I personally love the mix of culture, food and entertainment. Perhaps with some time they will come to appreciate the diversity that America has to offer. I think sometimes religion keeps people really set in old ways. Life is all about finding your people and your place on this great Earth. I will send good vibes their way.

foxy said...

I thought this was really interesting to read. A good friend of mine served in the Peace Corps in Bangladesh and couldn't get over how different it was from anything she'd ever seen or known. I can imagine they feel very out of place... just from the things she described to me. But I hope, too, that they start to feel more comfortable here.

And I don't think you sound close-minded. That's just dumb. WTH is wrong with that person??

Youthful Wisdom said...

Really good post. It takes time for people to adjust and really feel that the new place is 'their' home. But really, think of many of us whose parents immigrated to the States. Do they consider this their home? The earlier the age, the more likely they do. But for people who come later in life, they've already built attachments to their home country so when they move its hard to make the new place your own. Like a lot of immigrants I know who are older and are always saying, "one day we'll go back home." Irony is that their kids (us) all consider home right here.

linlah said...

How brave for them to leave everything behind and begin to embrace their new home.

Mrs. Cullen said...

My dad wants to go home!!

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

I can't imagine moving here from some place so different. And in winter, which is hard enough for those of us who are from the darn country! I think I'd be bored to be someplace with everything so foreign. I'd like to think I'd throw myself into it. But who knows, right?
Time, that miraculous trickster, will no doubt do the trick.
Really interesting post.

EmptyWords said...

When I first immigrated, I felt so out of place for many years... I always felt like I didnt belong. But now things have taken a different turn and I love America... it really does just take time

It must be so weird how they all know so much about you hehe