My kids always had a bunch of friends that weren't originally from the US, over the years they came and went, hung out, BBQ'd, slept on the couch, helped do yard work with me, went to baseball games, swam in the pool, went to the fourth of July carnival, you know all that good "Americana" stuff people take for granted. And in all actuality our family probably provided a decent cross section of America for them to see, successful, unsuccessful, educated, less educated, drunken, sober, happy, loving, fighting, angry, you know just a family really.
Over the years they just kinda accidentally picked up the collective nickname "the foreigns". Its just a family joke, kind of an inside thing, no big deal. Looking at it from this perspective though, I'm really glad the kids did this. Not because it necessarily opened them up to new things, but because it hopefully opened up the US to their friends and helped them acclimate a little bit. I can't imagine for instance what a Chinese girl with Chinese parents goes through if she grows up in the states. She lives in one world by day, and a totally different one by night. It must be trying at times...(that is the deliberate understatement of the year, or at least the month). I say this from experience now. You see I could grow a beard, wear a thobe, put on sandals and convert to Islam and I would still ALWAYS be a foreigner here. I could marry a Saudi after doing all of the things mentioned above, and our kids would always be foreigners. She would always be the woman who married the American...This is a weird feeling. I suddenly wonder what it was really like for all the foreign kids and people in our city...We thought hosting the festival of nations once a year was pretty damn generous on our part.
I think that because we're a land of foreigners it is a bit better in America for foreigners than it is here, but I'll really have to wait until I get home to check. I know that my "foreignness" here has caused more than a few faux pas on my part. It also causes ignorant people to shout out their windows at me, it causes mothers to grab their children and hold them close in panic, it causes men to eye me with an unbridled and clear dislike. It ensures that my weekends are pretty much spent in my apartment by myself, and makes my workdays empty before and after work hours. It also causes some of my students to put all of their trust and hope in me, that somehow, I the foreigner, might get some things figured out or improved (no pressure).
I had really hoped to get out and see a lot more than I have, and I've already gotten out a lot more than some of the American folks here. Its hard. A lot harder than it looks. I am literally struck dumb by the fact that wherever I go here, no matter what I do, I am "the foreigner". It's a lonely and discomforting feeling. I think when I go home, I'll see if I can't change that for someone else.