Thursday, April 25, 2013

V ~ Variety


These are the continuing adventures of a Swedish immigrant during her first year as an American. She boldly went where she'd never gone before...please come along on the Adventures in America!

Variety is the spice of life they say, and I wholeheartedly agree. However, the variety of ethnic and cultural differences I observed my first year as an American was quite the change for me.  My school had African-American kids, Asian kids, Hispanic kids, handicapped kids in wheel chairs, kids with behavioral and or mental disorders, speech impediments, anger issues, and some spoke NO English at all.

They joke that all Swedes are blond haired and blue eyed, but there's a reason for the joke. Most are, or at least were in 1974. Now Sweden is more of a melting pot, with lots of immigration, and adoption. 

I remember though when a friend of The Nutritionist  from nursing school was going to visit. Mom took me aside to say, “She has different color of skin. It's black, not white like ours. But she's just a normal person like us, with a different color on her skin.” Made perfect sense to me.

However, when I got to America, not everyone had that opinion. I heard plenty about how certain people with certain physical features were to be avoided because they all behaved in a certain way. That seemed very wrong to me. How could a different color of skin cause a behavior change? Different eye colors didn't make us act differently, so why would skin?

My elementary school was what I now, as a teacher, know to be a magnet school for ESL (English as a Second Language) students. I, the Swedish chick, who spoke English, was put in with two tables of kids from at least four different cultures, and it wasn't long before Mrs. Lonigan (not her name) moved me to a regular desk. “You'll be just fine.” I was.

However, to this day, as an adult, though I can better understand why some stereotypes of race/culture/origin exist, as a child, it made no sense, and I didn't understand why the other kids' parents hadn't explained about how the outside of a person doesn't change the inside.


(free multicultural images from google)



I think this is something some adults need to learn, too...each person is an individual and should be treated as such. We walk around in these “costumes” we've been given, but who we are is NOT the costume, it's the soul/spirit/heart WEARING the costume who is the real person.

16 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina .. you've said it right - the person inside is still a human with two legs, two arms and a brain .. it is ridiculous to be prejudiced in any way. Small children aren't - they mix and match and get on with things .. it's only later we let influences affect us ...

So pleased your parents had the sense to realise that ..

Great V for Variety post - cheers Hilary

Brian Miller said...

its a learning you know....been going on for years...i hope we are a bit further down the road than 20-30 years ago...when they desegregated schools but....we teach love or teach hate

JoJo said...

That's a great paragraph at the end there. So true. Your school in the 70s had way more racial variety than mine did. Almost all the kids in Sandwich were white, except for 1 family of African Americans that had 3 kids in our school. Then in the early 80s we got a few Vietnamese students.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've lived all over and I always viewed people as just people no matter what they looked like.

Penelope Crowe said...

Loved this post--totally agree.
I wish sometimes that even I could just go back and think with less bias.
Thanks-XO
Pen
Visiting from A to Z: www.penelopecrowe.blogspot.com

Andrew Leon said...

I want to comment, but I think it's just too early for me to form something coherent.
I'll just say that I grew up in the south.

Jenn ├čritton said...

Stereotypes are a real time saver.
;)

A Beer For The Shower said...

As a kid, I never understood prejudice either. I saw a lot of it as our town went from all white to half Hispanic in the span of a few years, but I'm glad that even as a kid I wasn't dumb enough to get sucked into it. I just knew better, and still do.

Matthew MacNish said...

Variety is the spice of life!

Annalisa Crawford said...

Kids are so accepting of any difference, until they are taught otherwise by society. It's a shame we can keep the innocence of childhood and accept everyone for who they are.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

You're so right. Variety keeps the world exciting.

Jo said...

Makes me think of the song in South Pacific "You've Got to be Taught"

JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

Carol Kilgore said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of this post. Glad the teacher recognized you didn't need to spend much time at the table.

Me said...

"We walk around in these “costumes” we've been given, but who we are is NOT the costume, it's the soul/spirit/heart WEARING the costume who is the real person." - Loved this and totally agree with this.
Great V post!

Thanks for visiting my space. :)

Sharon said...

I totally agree with the sentiments expressed in your post.

I had epilepsy as a child and that was enough of a difference to make me an outcast.

Rachel said...

Instead of focusing on things that make us different from one another, we should focus on the things that we have in common. The world would be a much friendlier place.