Our Own Melting Pot By Tracy Subisak
"My family’s story of immigration begins with my grandparents, to my mother, to my sister-in-law. Everyone migrated for his or her own reasons; unrest and poverty and rebuilding and education were a huge part of why America was such a beacon of opportunity.
The poor neighborhood blocks my dad grew up in were separated by ethnicity, where everyone stuck with his or her own culture (cue West Side Story soundtrack). Only when neighbors met neighbors did disparity turn into understanding. For him, his background was not as important as the opportunity to be who he made himself to be in the United States, which he took, being the first to pursue a higher education in his family.
My mother came to America to study because all her siblings moved here. All her classmates moved here. Her parents wanted her here. It was just what you did. She was homesick and scared, given the language barrier, but quickly gained her sense of independence. She got her first job, studied what she wanted to study, and came to appreciate the fact that the States invited more creative thinking. She was able to become her own person.
My brother and I grew up as a first-second generation kids in Ohio, and growing up with two completely different cultures was amazing. I take the things I love from each world and it makes me who I am, and my brother has taken it further by adapting to his wife’s culture. I love that my sister-in-law has added mutton biryani to our already eclectic Thanksgiving meal, and that my niece is speaking Tamil-English while calling my mother “Nai Nai” (that’s Chinese for grandma). Was it innate that my brother and I grew up to be open to different cultures given our background, or just the fact that we grew up in the States? I am forever grateful for our own tiny melting pot."
Tracy Subisak, Oregon
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