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  1. #91
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Adasta, they say that any person entering a new culture goes through three distinct stages:

    1) Idealization - this is where they have a superficial knowledge of that culture and primarily see the attributes of it without the faults.

    2) Disillusionment - this is where they get a more in-depth look at the culture and see some of the more negative traits that may lie under the surface and require more intimate knowledge or exposure to the culture. They are greatly disappointed at that stage that it is not all that they had believed it to be.

    3) Middle ground - this is where the person starts to see both the negatives and positives of the culture. They may see some of the deeper reasons for what they may have perceived as negative attitudes or behaviours, or uncover some positives under the surface that they had not been aware of before. They realize that any culture has both good and bad traits that temper each other rather than perceiving one extreme or the other.

    Perhaps some of what you are seeing is people expressing the first stage. They have seen the pleasant aspects of their cultural roots, without the accompanying negatives. The lack of direct, undilluted exposure allows for more idealization than if they were immersed in that culture back in Europe. They also are going to be more likely to overgeneralize and not see distinctions between individuals or smaller groups of people who may be from the same culture. Most exposure, even if direct, is for shorter periods of time, which allows the person to continue idealization and to have exposure to the more superficial aspects of that culture, such as food, dance, music, and festivals.

    If I base my impression of a particular cultural group on a couple of days at the different Folkfest pavillions, or Chicago's Irishfest, a person I like, a vacation to one of those countries, or glowing oral tradition that has passed through several generations, I am likely to feel differently than if I have repeated, in-depth interaction and proximity with a large sample size of that culture's population.

    Particularly in the US and Canada, people often intermarry with other cultural groups, which dillutes and softens some of the more abrasive aspects of that culture. With each generation removed, people become more homogenous and less like the people from their ancestors' original countries. Not only that, but their ancestors may have been slightly different kinds of people than their countrymen to even be willing to come in the first place (and therefore not accurately representative of the whole culture). The hardships they experienced tend to give people a sense of pride in their roots and interest in knowing more, without any in-depth rubber meets the road experience sometimes of the culture they are speaking about.

    It sounds very romantic to say that your great-great-great grandmother was a Cherokee princess. It's quite a different thing to go and live on a reserve, or to even delve into what life in those times was actually like, or how women were treated (either by Europeans or by Aboriginal peoples), or what options were available to them at the time.

    As much as there is to be proud of for the hardships people successfully came through, I think many of us may find our own ancestors difficult people to meet up with if we were to go back in time or see them through the light of our present day beliefs and outlooks. I see what you are saying on the one hand, Adasta - it is no particular accomplish to have had certain ancestors and many people in North America no longer actively are a part of a particular cultural tradition. At the same time, I think you may be oversimplifying it. Our roots do impact North Americans and our sense of identity more significantly because we have a very different history (where else in the world do you see that diverse of a mix of cultures making up the main fabric of their society?), and many of the events that impacted our ancestors are still within living memory.

  2. #92
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I suppose if all you know about the US is through TV & Hollywood movies, then sure.
    Yes, this is a really interesting point... I work in a study abroad office, and I was just talking yesterday about students of color who study abroad. The conversation yesterday was particularly about students studying in Egypt, but it is applicable in many situations. Anyway, we had a Jamaican-American student (mom is Jamaican, dad is American, I believe) and a Hmong student go to Egypt, and their experience was that Egyptians expected Americans to be white, of European descent, and were surprised to see these American students who looked different from that.
    Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.

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  3. #93
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Interestingly, a young woman from the Ukraine came over here as an exchange student, to an area where there is a heavy Ukranian population. Most of those Ukranians were peasants who came over here because there was free/inexpensive land in the early 1900s, or because of political unrest and danger or revolution. Because the Prairies were a great leveller, class isn't something that most people would take into account when we examine our differences or think about people we know. However, it was obvious that she did not want to be classed in the same group as them because she saw them as being of a much more boorish and brash and did not want people to equate her with them.

    My Mexican friend Diego who was doing a DMA in violin performance with an additional degree in physics when I was in Wisconsin did not want to be lumped in with the Mexican labourers and restaurant workers who looked more native and less Spanish and who were less educated. On the surface, his comments seemed very elitist and even rude, but I can understand in other ways how he did not want certain assumptions made about himself.

    Again, the fact that we are more distant from the countries that we have originated from means that sometimes there are some nuances that we miss. Whether or not it happens in actuality, the US and Canada both were based on the premise that these were countries where everyone had freedom and where they all had equal opportunity to make good. I think we often overlook some of the factors that made it an unlevel playing field to begin with (social power, connections, money, help, education, being a visible minority or not, history etc). At the same time, I think it is also difficult for us to see some of the more negative aspects of some of those cultures of origin because we have less exposure and do not see the range of types of people within one specific country, which Europeans may be more familiar with. Therefore it may seem incomprensible to you to idealize people that you may not view in the same way. Many people here though feel deeply grateful for having had opportunities (because of their ancestors' choices) to pursue a life that surely would have been closed to them had their ancestors remained in Europe.

  4. #94
    Was E.laur Laurie's Avatar
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    Well heck sometimes it's as simple as looks. My husband "looks" German and polish and I "look" scottish and Irish. I think it's great to combine our respective gene pools. But we very obviously have different gene pools.

    I think part of the problem in this thread is that many Americans can't imagine not knowing their ancestory. I was recently playing Oregon trail and thinking about the people in the west of our country whose family went through the wagon trail. Pretty amazing. Would be interesting to know about that in your family.

    My brother's girlfriend is second generation Greek. By the in this thread I've seen mentioned in a few generations people in her family won't be "Greek" anymore? Does that make any sense? Heck, my adoptive grandparents were first and second generation Russian and Hungarian. My cousin has a few generations before that doesn't matter anymore?

  5. #95
    Sniffles
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    It's also helpful to note in many cases, even the old country openly recognises and seeks to maintain close ties with the ethnic community in America and elsewhere. I know this is the case with Poland and Ukraine at least, where entire departments of their foreign ministry are dedicated to this task. In some cases, you may even qualify for citizenship based on "Right of return" laws.

  6. #96
    Sniffles
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    Default Polish President praises Polish-Americans

    "Americans of Polish origin are the American salt of the earth, they are co-creators of American success. And I would like to say, Poland is proud of you. We also remember everything the Polish community has done for the country on the Vistula. We remember its support in difficult times, and happiness of us all when Polish people regain sovereignty. There would be no free Poland without you; without your help and your involvement...

    ...Ladies and gentlemen, about 10 million of U.S. citizens today can be proud of their Polish roots. It is the most numerous concentration of Polish immigration and people of Polish origin in the world, and, at the same time, the sixth largest ethnic group in the United States. The level of education in this group is higher than U.S. average. It is the fifth wealthiest group. When I think about it, I'm proud, as it's the best testimony of how strong and enterprising you are, how hard-working and full of aspirations. I think you know how to use your opportunities. I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart.

    Good Polish American relations are a never-ending story. Poles have been part of the U.S. history from the very beginning. They were among the founders of the first colony in Jamestown. They fought in the War of Independence and in the War of Secession. We are proud of the role Americans of Polish origin have played in every stage of the development of this country. They built its economic power, created open society, participated in everything that caused what the United States is today a symbol of freedom and democracy.

    Polish community in America has always combined two patriotisms - loving the new country, they have never forgot their roots. In moments most trying for the state and the nation, our countrymen from America have lent us their helping hand. It was so not only at the time of partition and national uprisings, but also during the Second World War and Nazi occupation, and later, in times of the Iron Curtain. We cannot forget the role of this community for Polish accession to NATO.

    Its charity work also deserves respect. I mean here, the assistance Americans of Polish origin are providing for a Polish community in the East, or collections for the victims of flood in Poland.

    As President of independent, free and democratic Poland, I wish to pay tribute and thank all the countrymen in America for their contribution in bringing our country back to a place it deserves in the family of free states....
    "
    --Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, July 18, 2002

  7. #97
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    ^^Good point. The past two presidents of the Republic of Ireland have made similar speeches about the Irish diaspora.
    Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.

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  8. #98
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    I am not descended from immigrants, but from settlers. Settlers establish the customs that the immigrants then adopt. My ancestors came from Plymouth, England to the US in the year 1620 to a place called Plymouth, Massachusetts. (Technically, that was our cousin. My direct ancestor came over in 1622...)

    We consciously transmit our values to the newcomers! The public schools do a very poor job of that these days.
    The MBTI types me as an INFP, however, SOCIONICS calls me an Logical Intuitive Extram (called an ENTj in our terms.)

  9. #99
    Was E.laur Laurie's Avatar
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    That's cool peguy, I'll have to share that with my husband.

    Here is scotland's. They had a homecoming in 2009 and are going to have another in 2014 http://www.homecomingscotland2009.com/default.html There is always a cool letter from some government official Scotland (or maybe the ambassador?) that they read at the Ohio Scottish games.

    I guess I can understand a bit. A few years ago I was wondering what Americans are like to people outside of the US. I thought about how people from California sound. "We are the best state because blah blah" (Or am I the only one who thinks of california like that?) Then imagine those same goofballs saying they are ohioans because some ancestor lived in Ohio quite a while ago. Yikes.

  10. #100
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquarelle99 View Post
    ^^Good point. The past two presidents of the Republic of Ireland have made similar speeches about the Irish diaspora.
    Oh yes, it's long been very important for Irish leaders to maintain strong ties with Irish-Americans. Ireland's first president, √Čamon de Valera, was actually Irish-American. When President Kennedy visited Ireland, he toured the village his ancestors came from and was greeted with calls of "Welcome home, Mr. President".

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