04 July 2006

Independence Day!

230 years of independence. Our nation has changed so much in so a short amount of time, and still America is just a teenager as far as nations go. We're so lucky to have the best that every other nation has to offer: scientists, linguists, inventors, leaders. We represent every ethnic group and nearly every language in this country, offer refuge to those less fortunate, and the freedom to practice faith in whichever way we wish. America is the land of opportunity, and I'll share with you a story we heard while in France, by a rather enthusiastic man from Ghana named (I believe) Toussaint....you'll see why he changed his name, below.

Tannah and I were walking through a parking garage at, probbaly close to 22h00. A man ran up to us from the darkness and we both became a little apprehensive, but he asked us breathlessly, "Are you Americans?" (Our clothing must have tipped him off.) We said yes, and he was so overjoyed to practice his English...which was already excellent, by the way. He gave us his name from his native Ghana, but he chose to use the name Toussaint to be able to properly integrate in France. Toussaint asked us a ton of questions about America, mostly about employment, culture, and opportunity. He was so amazed that anyone could make somethign of themselves. He swept the floors in the local MacDo (McDonald's) but because of his lack of fluency of the language, was basically guaranteed never to move up in the ranks. His French was actually pretty skilled, from what I heard. He understood what was said to him, and he was understood, as well, by others. He told us that, alot of the time, if your name wasn't French enough or your religion wasn't accepted by the employer, you weren't hired. Immigrants were especially scrutinized, which is why he changed his name. Toussaint's wife was native French, and because she was afraid of anti-French sentiment (and inability to speak English) she wasn't willing to move to America, where Toussaint wanted so badly to live. He wanted the opportunity he'd never have in France. I think it made all three of us sad.

This country has problems...just like everywhere else. But it's my home, nonetheless, and I'm proud to be American.

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