I Am America by Charles R. Smith Jr. and My Mom Is a Foreigner, But Not to Me by Julianne Moore are books that help us think about the significance of Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July. It was on July 4, 1776, that we gained our independence and that our Democracy was first born.
The United States was and continues to be a diverse nation to which thousands come every day to begin to live their American Dream. In I Am America, young students help us “celebrate the many faces of children growing up in America today”. In My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not to Me, we are reminded of the rich diversity of our country through a story that captures the author’s memory of growing up with her own foreign mom.
America has always been described as a richly diverse country. Some people use the idea of a stew to describe the country’s diversity. This idea suggests that all of the cultures melt together to become one culture that takes traditions and practices from all of the cultures of the people who live here. Others have described the American people as a salad bowl in which all of the cultures come together but maintain their own unique identity.
Think about your friends and neighbors. Would you describe your little piece of the world as an example of a stew or a salad bowl? Be prepared to defend your answer.
If someone in your family or your neighborhood came to America from a foreign country, what questions might you ask them to find out about their culture? Before forming your questions, think about the traditions your family practices.
What would you like someone to ask you so that you could share something about your culture?
In I Am America, each of the young voices in the book see themselves as being proud Americans for different reasons.
Would you like being with a group of friends who are just like you, or with a group who are different? Be prepared to share your answer.
If you were invited to be in the book I Am America, Part II, what would you say makes you a proud American?
The beauty of America is that we are all independent. That is why so many foreigners choose to come to America. Americans are all free to express an opinion; free to practice their own religion; free to get an education, and more. Although we are free to do all of these things, we are often hesitant to do them. It takes courage to ….say what we want to say…Think about the chorus to the song Brave by Sara Bareilles:
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
Can you think of a time that you wished you had expressed your opinion but did not? Be prepared to describe the experience. What would you have said if you…said what you wanna to say?
Now…read the Sticky Situation below and think about what you would say and why:
A new student has just arrived at your school and has been placed in your classroom. She is from another country. As you go over to introduce yourself to her, you hear several of your really good friends making fun of her because of her accent.