It’s is always painful when,  because we are different, we are made to feel unwelcome. It is all the more tragic when the tender heart of a child is broken due to cruel treatment.

Lori Johnson’s post about her Grandmother’s experience as an immigrant, compels us to consider how are we treating the immigrants in our country today. What are our beliefs and attitudes toward people who may become immigrants in the future?

Are we treating immigrants with the significance that we would have hoped our ancestors were treated with, or that we would hope our children would be treated with, if they were to journey to a foreign land?

Read Lori’s post and ponder that question

Rae Lesmeister

 

My grandmother emigrated from Norway as a child. She came home from her first day of school in tears because her classmates made it clear she was not welcome because she did not act, look or talk like an American. She was about 12 years old. Determined to prove them wrong, she largely taught herself to read and write, and by 16 was teaching school to American students.

After my grandmother died, we found a diary she kept as a young girl. In it, she talked about her dream of going to college even though virtually everyone told her that poor people, especially women, did not go to college. Sadly, my grandmother did not realize that dream, but her grandchildren did, and my brother and several of my cousins went on to earn advanced degrees.

Many of the people who emigrate to America today from countries that (unlike Norway) have recently been vilified arrive with college degrees and specialist skills. My family did not. They were, in fact, the “poor and huddled masses” who had little to recommend them but determination and a pocketful of dreams.

I want to live in an America where experiences like my grandmother’s are relegated to the history books because we acknowledge and honor the contributions that immigrants of all backgrounds and classes make. My family’s story is not unique, and we see those same themes playing out around us every day for another generation.

I am deeply thankful for my friends and family today who, like my grandmother, came from other places and who have made my life and America much richer.

Grandma Anne is shown here about the age when she first tried to go to school. She is shown with her brother Eric, who joined the U.S. military as a young man and was killed in WWII.