Friday, July 4, 2008

At home

I can't tell you how good it feels to have not been the least bit interested in the internet for the past two weeks! I've forgotten my inbox, my blog, facebook, new york times homepage, and all the other trappings of the web that were my lifeline in China. 

I am finally over jetlag and reverse culture shock as far as I can tell. I'm still shocked by the portion sizes in restaurants and the waste that we allow. I still haven't been able to go in Wal-Mart or Target or Kroger--it's just too overwhelming!! and I end up thinking that everything looks so good that I can't make decisions or choices--but I'll probably go this week. 

The past two weeks have been full of blessings that I will write about later--but today is Independence Day!! Part of me wants to write about the way that being gone in Chinaland has changed my view of my homeland--but there's too much to write...and I'm home and lazy! So I'll share this--one of my first impressions on returning to America:

One of my favorite things about America: Diversity

In China, the "foreigners" are immediately identifiable. Any deviation from black hair, black eyes, asian skin tones or eye shapes usually means that you are not Chinese. It's obvious. There are rare cases when this changes I'm sure--but I haven't experienced those. The Chinese race and a few similar minorities are the Chinese citizens. The rest of us are foreigners.

I can't tell you how beautiful it is to be home and see a billion variations of skin color and eye shape and hair texture and accent and culture and when seeing them, to instantly, instinctively, assume that they are American. They are my fellow citizens. We are "shared country-mates" as one of my students described it.

After being in a relatively monochromatic culture for so long--I find myself wanting an even greater degree of diversity now that I'm back home. I want for us to claim the "melting pot" characteristic of our nation with even more zeal and joy. I want for us to open our arms and grow until there is no majority of race--there is just a beautiful rainbow of Americans mixed together. 

Some will say that I'm oversimplifying things--and unfortunately this issue too quickly becomes twisted into a political discussion--and I'm really not interested in any of that right now. Don't make it more than it is. Quite simply--America's diversity is beautiful. I am sad that for a long time I didn't embrace that part of my country or seek out as much as I should--it is sad that my childhood and high school years were too often monochromatic themselves. It is sad that we section ourselves off and fail to take advantage of the multifaceted variations of culture that are all completely American in their differences. 

This is a blessing that we have in this country. I hope that we can take more pride in it--that we can find ways to help it grow--to help our diversity thrive and to perfect it more and more. I am thankful that I one version of a million different versions of American.