Together, we are America


Akari Oya

America consists of many different ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds, and that diversity is our strongest asset.

Staff, Staff Writers

Imagine you have just arrived in a new country: America. How do you feel? Excited, timid, a bit apprehensive. Everything is unfamiliar: the language, the culture, the countryside. You’re unsure of what is in store here. There are so many unknowns, but what you do know is this land holds promise for a bright future.

For some of us, this doesn’t take much imagination—it’s something we’ve felt firsthand.

For others, though, it’s at more of a distance. Instead of being a memory in our own minds, it was something experienced by our ancestors. Perhaps our parents, grandparents, or farther back on the family tree.

So if the latter is true, take a moment to put yourself in those shoes. How did it feel for your family to come here? In our familiar surroundings where we were born and raised, it’s easy to forget how challenging it is for newcomers.

The English language, that seems so natural to those of us born hearing it, takes long years of hard work to learn, especially as adults. Have you ever taken a foreign language course and experienced the bewilderment of being spoken to and feeling completely lost?

Moving to a new town is hard enough. What is it like to move thousands of miles away where nothing is familiar?

And what about the culture? Social customs are different, and it’s hard not to be homesick for the home left behind.

All these struggles are worth it, though. This country is a land of opportunity for those willing to work hard. This is the American Dream, held by generations before us, and still alive today.

This is the beauty of America. We come from many cultures, each of us with a different story to tell and talent to share. The United States is the melting pot, and we are richer for our diversity.

Here in the Illinois Valley, we have a unique culture born through the melding of traditions. We have large populations descended from German, Italian, Irish, Eastern European and Hispanic immigrants, with many smaller groups in addition.

They came and found work in area coal mines, in factories, and on the rich farmland. Because of them, we enjoy great ethnic foods, celebrations and architecture. Even our family names pay homage to our heritage. With a determined work ethic, together our immigrant ancestors created the Illinois Valley as we know it today.

Elementally our country was and is a country of immigrants. Let’s take pride in this fact. This is who we are, and we are stronger for it.