Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Resilient Nation

I was going to write about another of my blog links today. But an article posted by Steve DeAngelis on his Enterprise Resilience Blog caught my attention. It is a plea for America not to give up on Globalization. He writes that he was moved to speak out after reading a recent article by New York Times columnist David Brooks. At the bottom, I have linked the post by Steve and within his post is a link to Brook's article.

As I wrote earlier, Steve has a great talent to digest an article and add comments that inspire the reader to see the future with the same optimism that he possesses. He echos Brooks concern that America is losing that optimism because today's politicians are allowing it to happen by pandering to the fear of change. Both Steve and David Brooks agree that as long as the people of the U.S. remain open to change they will continue to grow and prosper.

I was struck by something that Brooks wrote referring to; "America's most stable of assets; it's values." What he meant was the ability to assimilate almost everyone who comes here. He pointed out that over 20 million legal immigrants have come to our shores in the past quarter century. Those new citizens and their children, are infused with the same American values that every new wave of citizens has embraced for the past two hundred plus years. In previous posts I have referred to first wave of Southeast Asians who came to find refuge over 30 years ago. After the Fall of South Vietnam in 1975, more than 125,000 Vietnamese were admitted as refugees. Soon the citizens of other Asians nations whom before 1975, had experienced very low immigration quotas, were welcomed to join our nation. They were followed by people from former East Bloc countries and even the former Soviet Union.

There are several young people I know who are the children of this new wave of citizens. Each one is ingrained with the values that David Brooks and Steve DeAngelis wrote about. The first, is a young woman whose parents escaped Pol Pot's Killing Fields in Cambodia, to a refugee camp in Thailand and after a long struggle, gained access to the United States. She is possibly the most focused person I have ever known. She is a university student, who daily drives 40 miles to attend class, then 20 miles to a job, then 40 miles back home to study til the early hours of the morning. She collects quotations to inspire and stimulate her thinking. She even has a reference to metacognition, (thinking about thinking)' on her My Space headline. Her goal is international business or government service. Even with all this, she finds the time to raise money for cancer and AIDS research.

Another, is the oldest in a single parent family, although an adult, she lives at home to help her mom raise her siblings. She also is one of the most focused and driven people I've ever met. If your immediate image is of a modest demure Asian girl, be prepared for a shock. This young woman has the business acumen of Donald Trump, and the poise and beauty to be a candidate for America's Next Top Model. She is a full-time student in her university, majoring in finance, and works evenings to help support the family. She maintains a very high grade point average and at work, has earned the respect of all who know her for her attention to detail, work ethic and positive attitude.

My final but not least example is a young man whose father served time in a re-education camp in Vietnam for being in the defeated military. Upon release, he immigrated to the U.S., started a successful business and raised a family. His son graduated with honors from a top university, and was made to work to contribute to his own tuition in order to appreciate the value of work ethics. This young man is bright beyond his years. At the first opportunity the company he had worked for part-time, hired him upon graduation. They saw the potential in his character and the skills he brings to the workplace. His future with this Fortune 500 lodging company, or any other company he may chose to work for, is bright.

I know that reading this you would think that these first generation Americans are only exhibiting the stereotypical Asian habits of studying hard and honoring their parents. That conclusion is only half-right. They also have the quiescently American traits that come from freedom of expression and opportunity. Believe me when I tell you these three, study hard, work hard, and party like rock-stars. They have the social skills that allow them to exceed in a competitive society. These traits are the result of that greatest of American assets; assimilation, creating a new breed of Americans, with the same spirit that made this country what it is today.
These young people I've written about parent's came from Vietnam and Cambodia, chances are they would not be here adding the resilient fabric of this nation, if history had not turned out as it did in 1975. When I began this blog, I opened by writing about my difficulty in reconciling my time in Vietnam. Today, I am so proud to know these young people. They serve as an inspiration to me to encourage them, and anyone else of their generation who are looking forward to a future worth creating, instead of "watching the wake" as Steve DeAngelis and his colleague Tom Barnett warn us about.

Read more:
Don't give up on Globalization

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