The other night the girls were watching Girl Meets World and the episode focused on cultural diversity, but from a unique angle. Rather than reading about cultures, the student assignment was to research their own background. Where did they come from?
Of course my child, and the cast, responded: America.
But what is America?
As the episode evolved, I thought what a cool idea this would be for our children (and ourselves). Unless you are Native American, your family came to this country for a reason. I know in theory that my great-great-grandparents immigrated from Ireland and Italy. But I don’t know why.
Think about leaving your home for another town. Forget that, think about putting your kid on the bus the first day of school how anxious you were. Now imagine taking that child and putting them on a boat (or plane) and moving to a country where you do not understand the language, the customs, the idioms or the money. Yet you leave all that is comfortable and known for America.
What was the driving factor in the decision to leave family, friends and heritage for the New World?
I think this would be an awesome history assignment for every student. I believe it would help our children (and ourselves) not forget a child photographed in absolute silence while in a chaotic war zone and understand why his neighbor might leave his home for the unknown. I honestly believe that when you look at the racial strife in this country without looking at the history we are doing a disservice. Not just to our friends, but to those who are different than us.
I think if we researched why our ancestors came to America we would realize we are more alike than different. Even today, the reason people choose to come to America is not so different than why my great-great-grandparents did.
To be free.
To be accepted.
To have a better life.
When I think of home, I think of safety. After watching the show I also think of what it might mean if my home wasn’t safe. I do not want to imagine having to leave my home, my town, my country, because it wasn’t safe. If I was forced to, I would want to have a place like America. A place where we are not a culture but a destination.
I’m Irish. I’m Italian. And I have no idea how an Irishman married an Italian woman or why either of them came to this country.
Isn’t that wrong?
How can I learn from my history if I do not know it.
I think we went wrong, as a society, when we stopped telling our stories to our children. When we stopped learning why we should be so grateful for our ancestor’s bravery. Knowing that bravery and courage might allow us to find common ground with those who made the same choice, for the same reason, from another part of the world. Even those who were brought here unwillingly, their stories need to be repeated and learned from.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
If we do not know our past, our personal history, how do we learn from it? How do we pay homage to those who were brave enough to leave what they knew and make a life in the unknown?
When I think about home, I think of where I live now. Not how I came to know where home resides. I think learning our personal history, how we came to America, how we made this our home, would allow us to better understand our neighbor.
It will not end racial strife, but it might help stem it.
This is how I completely went off the rails with Kristi’s Finish The Sentence Friday prompt, “When I think about home…”