As a military brat and adult frequent-mover, you might say I'm a professional newcomer. One thing I've noticed about every place I've lived is that native and entrenched inhabitants tend to lack curiosity about where newcomers are from, what their lives might have been like elsewhere, how things might be done differently in another locale. Instead of healthy inquiry and dialogue, we get assumptions.
When I moved to Miami from the Midwest, my students assumed that I had made my way in the world as a pig farmer. If there's one thing that the great Show-Me State of Missouri calls to mind to tropical residents, it's pig farming. While I confess to a certain Charlotte's Web-influenced affection for the little squealers, I have not nor do I know anyone who has farmed pigs. There's also a reluctance to try a new method or process in work environments, as people cling to the way they've always done things. Don't get me wrong; I'm all about lying low, checking out the scene, and doing what I can to fit in, even acquiring a new accent if necessary. But I do think there's value in understanding where someone comes from, both literally and figuratively. Especially here in Seattle, newcomers are regarded as interlopers, part of the problem, as if Seattle had been a perfectly good city until we showed up.
Knowing where someone new in town has been is just as important as learning everything you can about where you've landed. For illustration, I'll compare Miami, where I lived for two years, to Seattle, my home now for three.Miami Seattle Oranges Apples Everglades Evergreens Alligators Orcas Hurricanes Earthquakes 248 days of sunshine 136 days of sunshine Umbrellas to block the sun Bumbershoots are for tourists Days over 90°F: 30 Days over 90°F: 3 Left turn on red expected Brake for pedestrians Bicyclists mowed down by cars Drivers mowed down by bicyclists Everything's disposable Everything's recyclable The 6th borough of New York L.A. North Walk up and order a colada Drive through and order a soy latte 70 miles to Cuba 125 miles to Canada Art Deco Craftsman Sand between your toes Moss on your back Monster yachts Monster yachts Elián protests WTO protests McCain Obama