February 20, 2015


We Americans often say that people from foreign countries emigrate to the US in order to find a "better life." I'm sure that's true. Today and throughout our country's brief history, others have sought our shores to escape poverty, prejudice, and lately, terrorism and its effects. They've come seeking freedom and all that word implies.

But in the past two weeks, I've had occasion to look at immigration in another light. First, a woman from South Vietnam cut and styled my hair. She was outgoing and pleasant and did a good job on my hair, giving me just the cut I'd asked for.

A few days later I went to a lab for a routine test. At this time of year, the usual opening conversation is about the weather, which in the Midwest jumps from frigid to warm in a matter of a day. When I called this "yo-yo" weather, the technician looked puzzled. I demonstrated how the toy works, going up and down, and she smiled. "I remember this from my physics course." We began talking about idioms and how they take one deeper into the cultural aspects of language. She asked if I'd read The Kite Runner (I had read that wonderful novel.) and told me she was from the same ethnic group as the main character.

During the following week, I went with my husband to visit his cardiologist, a quietly confident, friendly man from India. His nurse, calm and pleasant, was from Laos. They both answered questions and offered reassurance as we talked.

So, in the course of several days, a beautician from South Vietnam, a technician from Afghanistan, a physcian from India and his nurse from Laos all offered me kindness, professionalism, courtesy and provided me with a variety of services.

I'm trusting that their lives are better than in the country they came from. I know for sure that my life was made better because they're here!