The discussion of diversity in the South brought to mind a few experiences I have personally had. It goes without saying that people from different geographical areas in the United States, and the world for that matter, are different in many ways. Speaking in the distinctive Southern dialect, I am often set apart from my peers, students, friends, and professional in the United States and internationally.
According the Human Development Report 2013, published by the United Nations, the Asian middle class will grow from 500 million today to 1.75 billion, or three times its current size, by the year 2020. The report notes that all across the southern hemisphere countries have increased economic productivity and raised human development indicators that show improved quality of life. This “Rise of the South” has precipitated a global transition in economic, political, and cultural relations.
My transitional experience from the tough life of a new immigrant to become a college graduate, as a new U.S. citizen, a volunteer for CARE International, a private humanitarian aid organization, and now my charitable organization the Global Paint for Charity, I feel very grateful and blessed to be here especially in Atlanta Georgia. But it’s important, as immigrants living in the Diaspora, that we don’t forget what we can do to help people back at home. It’s not good enough for us to complain about what other people aren’t doing for us. It’s important that we all need to group and regroup together, to discuss ways to make a difference in those in needs back at homes and our community in here.
Growing up in a small Tennessee town with a population of 1500 people never stopped me from dreaming about traveling the globe to visit other countries. I wished to learn about the languages, manners, and native dress of other countries. I longed for the adventure of exploring the differences in food, history and religion in cultures and societies around the world.
In the 1956 film “Good-bye My Lady,” Walter Brennan says to a fellow Southerner: “Had a tourist here once – a Yankee that got bit by a snake. Snake died.” It must have been fate that compelled me to watch this outdated, random movie on a Saturday morning while preparing to write this article. “Good-bye My Lady” contains several such jabs that made me laugh even though it is not a comedy and not even about Yankees. I hear quips like this every day from people who don’t realize that I’m a Northern transplant and not native to the South. So, after sixteen years in Chattanooga TN, and ten years previously in Atlanta, I would like to offer my top five tips for a successful transition into Southern living. By the way, to Southerners, a Yankee is anyone not from the South, not necessarily someone from the Northeast.
Although there were first ladies before her, Dolley Madison was the woman chosen to give the role of the First Lady of the White House, the prestige the title enjoys today. A widow, who at the age of twenty-five that had already experienced the ravage death leaves behind within her own family with the loss of her husband and her youngest son, this woman would set up the ceremonial and social protocol in the newly built White House in Washington D.C.
Living in Europe and being able to travel to most of the European countries, or anywhere else in the world has its advantages, but there are times when being an international citizen causes an unrest deep within that makes an expatriate hunger to return to the old Southern landmarks.
Members of the European culture usually have a settled way of life. In their eyes, Americans are admirable models of mobility. If in Germany, where I come from, a person becomes unemployed, he will look for a new job in his ancestral city first. Only when that is unsuccessful will reach out to other parts of Germany to look for a new career. Or not, it depends on lots of circumstances. People are ingrained in their communities. Visiting is easier than moving and nobody has to take an airplane to visit friends and family. To cross Germany by car even at its widest point will take you nine hours.