American Elephants


Coming to America: What Was The Most Pleasant Surprise? by The Elephant's Child


statue-of-libertyFrom the American Enterprise Institute, because this is special:

“A little over a week ago, a Reddit user started a thread asking ‘Immigrants to America: What was the most pleasant surprise?'”

A few days ago, Jim Pethokoukis wrote here on AEIdeas about Gallup data showing Americans seem both miserable, and yet increasingly satisfied with their standard of living. The website Knowable.com highlighted 25 of the many replies to the Reddit thread, but in the spirit of appreciating the USA and putting our possible misery in proper context, we’ve picked some of our own highlights:

  •  Free public restrooms and how every establishment has air conditioning.
  • Clean streets, good luck finding a trash can in Pakistan.
  • Fireflies… I honestly thought they were mythical, like fairies, until I saw one for the first time in Virginia.
  • Showers and running hot water. I was born in the Philippines. Not having to fill buckets with water and boiling some over a stove top was such a big surprise for me.
  • Buildings and bridges are so .. .amazing, the infrastructure is good, it makes you thing “wow, mankind DID THIS!”
  • Small talks. I really didn’t expect people to just strike up a conversation with someone they’ve never met before.
  • People telling me I must be American based solely on my English skills and disregarding my ethnicity feels weird. I like it.
  • My dad was born in Trinidad. He says the first thing he ate when he came to the US was pizza. He said that it was magical, and that nothing has ever been as good as that first piece of pizza.
  • The fireworks. I had moved on the 4th of July and I was quite young. But I still remember the fireworks.
  • What surprised me was the social circles that existed in schools and in life. Back in Italy, schools didn’t have the nerds, the jocks, the skater kids, emos, or what else have you. People were all basically the same, with minor differences in interests. Most everyone played soccer, was a casual gamer, and hung out in the town square at night. That’s it. It may sound like an exaggeration, but 95% of my friends there were exactly like this. So when I came to school here, I was amazed by how the jocks would hang out at gyms and play 4 different sports after school, while the skaters headed off to find a park. It was so different. And I loved it. Because while I could fit in back in Italy, I was always much more introverted and interested in nerd stuff, and in the US I finally found people who were really like me. It was really unexpected, and you only notice it after spending a lot of time in America.
  • Moving to the Deep South, I was expecting to be met with the stereotypical racist KKK type of folks. Luckily, everyone at my school was super friendly and helpful.
  • Growing up, I was taught the Vietnamese version of the Vietnam War in school. In my mind, I thought in America people would not talk about it since it’s a shameful thing and the government would suppress all discussions of it like in Vietnam. When I came here, I saw that people can openly speak about these things even when there are many disagreements.
  • Arrived at 15 from Mexico legally. I lived in poverty  but never went hungry, thanks to the social safety nets. My parents worked hard and had a business going within a couple of years. I graduated college and became an engineer. Fast forward 24 years and I’m making a 6 figure salary and living a very good life. The American Dream is alive and well.
  • I remember that when I was getting my driver’s license in Trinidad, everyone told me to go with a few hundred dollars in my pocket. It’s very common you’ll be asked to pay a bribe.
  • The fact that no one was threatening to kill my family based off of our religious beliefs.
  • I’m the son of Korean immigrants. My dad said that Americans are probably the hardest workers in the world. He’s worked in various international companies, and he admits that Americans are the easiest to get along with because of their versatility and open-mindedness. He flat out said he prefers Americans leading projects over anyone else.
  • Space. Having separate houses with a huge backyard is a luxury that’s only for the rich in the Netherlands.
  • It was my 2nd week in America and I was nervous when I was checking out 4 books at the local public library. I love libraries and where I come from you can normally checkout 3 books. I thought this being America I could try my luck and add another book. The nice checkout girl proceeded my order, out of curiosity I asked her how many books could I checkout in one go. Her answer: 75. This to me symbolized what America stood for.
  • People with power are careful when dealing with ordinary people. “Public servants” in most third world countries are the masters and the ordinary public are the “Servants.” This is not the case in the US.
  • The most important thing I liked about US is the awareness of people to fight for their rights, respecting others views and respect for humanity. … This might be one of the reason that it is very common for people to sue each other. While [in] other countries, people will silently compromise and accept their situation as a fate…. it seems, the US expects everyone to be aware of what he/she deserves. This is probably the best form of freedom.

These are just some of the many responses that AEI featured. which they edited for grammar, and bolded the essential words.  A really nice remedy for world news events.


1 Comment so far
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I can wholeheartedly confirm that any and all of these reactions to the vast majority of (non-jihadist) immigrants echo these reactions. How do I know this? My ex-wife is an immigrant, and her reactions of incredulity began within the first hour of her getting off the plane with me in New York. She is from Vietnam, and I met her in San Francisco before hustling off to get to my family before Thanksgiving.

She was stunned by New York City, having pictured it as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and 5th Avenue. Period!

Driving north to my family’s home in Poughkeepsie, she proved to me that it was an immigrant who invented the phrase “Are we there yet?”.

Several days later she was overwhelmed by the idea of a supermarket, and this woman was an intelligent, college educated person. But seeing that much food, in the huge varieties that we all take for granted, also showed me one more thing – too many countries have one thing in common with the USA.

We have too many leftists spoon feeding pure lies and misinformation to the ordinary citizens. My “ex” was deluded by her schools, her political elites and the infamous media into her view of what America *really* is.

We native born Americans are also the victims of leftist/liberal/Democrat/Progressive/Socialist (and on and on) propaganda through our schools, entertainment and news media and our politicians.

We need to spread this article to as many as possible so we can start to convince the weak brained supporters of the left that they have been conned and it’s time that they woke up.

Comment by Jim Yardley




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