Times were definitely changing.
They have clung one last time to those they loved, the ones who knew them best. They have scraped together fares, and climbed aboard buses and airplanes and the tops of trains.
They have taken giant, terrifying, now-or-never leaps, believing that what they had yet to see must surely surpass all they were leaving behind. My forbears were among them. Inmy grandfather took his wife and his three children and climbed aboard one of the many buses that were leaving his shrinking Lebanese mountain village.
Word had spread that prosperity was possible in Australia. He gave up everything he knew on the chance that the stories trickling slowly back from the other side of the planet were true. His brother ran beside the bus as it pulled out of town: A generation later, I, too, leapt into the breach: I said goodbye to my family on a sunny Sydney morning, leaving my country for the first time, hoping for a bigger life in America.
Now I spend my days writing about others who left so much, as my grandfather did. People with far more to escape, and lose, than he. Dinka boys like Isaac Majak, who fled ravaged villages in Southern Sudan, growing into men on long, deadly treks to Ethiopia and Kenya, with only each other for protection.
Men now living in Atlanta, or in Somerville, Massachusetts who, with their hour-a-week jobs and their shared apartments, now live lives of which their relatives, slowly returning to their devastated villages, can only dream. Cambodians like Chhan Touch, who trekked through jungles and crossed rivers crowded with floating bodies, desperate to escape certain death in the killing fields, seeing horrors along the way that would never leave them.
I ate grass for days. It was a hell life to live," he said. I forget about it, just looking forward. Thank goodness, I live in such a heavenly country. Some had little to give up in the first place. In their struggles to escape or improve their circumstances, few of the immigrants with whom I spend my days gave any thought to the kinds of issues that drive the fractious national debate over immigration, which has so seized the nation in recent years.
The immigration debate in this country is so highly charged because it is an argument over what our national values are, and over who can lay claim to them. Such arguments are not quickly resolved.
But they are vital. With these awards, the Vilcek Foundation honors two immensely successful immigrants, people who took the chances this country gave and blazed spectacular, nationally prominent careers in science and the arts.
But the millions of others who have moved heavens and earths to find ways here, who have labored in obscurity to make lives for themselves and their families despite immense odds, are equally striking testaments to this one unassailable fact: The promise of this place endures.
My parents themselves were born in Taiwan, but they traveled to America, where they worked as engineers in the early days of tech, married, and divorced. I was raised by a rather atypical extended family: My mom subsequently married a white guy from Denver, a chiropractor who hauled a device into our living room called the Spinalator.
My dad married my stepmom, an Oracle engineer who fled the Cultural Revolution and possesses Cantonese eating skills that allow her to debone a fish with the dainty effectiveness of a cat.
This cast of characters shows how the people we often view as stereotypical hard-working immigrants - say, the Silicon Valley engineers who took up computer science because they possessed neither English fluency nor business connections in America - are also idiosyncratic, individualistic, and passionately human.
We are accustomed to praising the faceless immigrant for stolid virtues - for his ruddy hands that hammered down the railroads, picked the fruit trees of California and Florida, and built postwar New York. And yet as I grow older, I notice that I have begun to reimagine my parents - as we often do - as not just being my mother and father, but as being friends, peers, comrades, who were once my age.
I find myself wondering what motivated them to travel across seas and languages to a country as large and strange as America. I notice that they begin to appear in my memories less like workhorses and more like adventurers.
The enemy of imagination, the Russian critic Victor Shklovsky once said, is the habit. I think of my father, who found himself surprised when he discovered that American financial news indicated stock depreciation by the color red - the color of prosperity in Taiwan.
The color red glowed with a different familiarity for him. He had what you might call an anthropological moment, a moment of bifurcated awareness whereby he could perceive a simple color through the eyes of two cultures.
This imaginative act is the manifestation of another or former life that seeps beneath even the most banal moments. Many immigrants I know have led an imaginary life.May 23, · American photographer Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio have traveled the world documenting that most basic of human behaviors—what we eat.
mari j. matsuda where is your body? and other essays on race gender and the law beacon press boston. Simon's Night & Simon's Night Journal John Hassler (journal edited by Joe Plut) 6x9, pp $ In this Jon Hassler classic, Simon Shea, a retired professor of English at a small Minnesota college, has begun to forget things and also experiences a few dangerous lapses in judgment.
Food Network Favorites; Recipes From Our All Star Chefs by Food Network Kitchens feature dishes recommended by a multiple number of today’s popular chefs such as Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentis, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck and more chefs featured on the front cover and inside of the book etc.
Recipes such as Stuffed Shells on page 95, chili dog nachos. Food Timeline, a culinary history reference and research service free and open to everyone. Food Timeline, a culinary history reference and research service free and open to everyone.