My wife was born in London. Her ancestors came from Russia and from Holland. The Dutch family was named Van Valkenburgh and arrived almost 400 years ago; the Russian family name was lost at Ellis Island, so they became “Brody,” the name of their town. They arrived in 1888 and lived on the lower east side of Manhattan … not far from where the Dutch ancestors had grazed cows. My sister-in-law is English; my brother-in-law is French. No one in our families speaks the languages of our ancestors any longer … except for English. My children have lived in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, and my daughter returned to one of the “old countries” for her college degree. I wonder if she felt like she belonged in Glasgow? Who am I? Todd R. Nelson.
Here’s another American story:
My father came from Kenya. He herded goats when he was young, then won a scholarship to school. My mother came from Kansas. My parents met in Hawaii. I grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii and went to college in California, New York, and Massachusetts. My mother’s family includes abolitionists and Revolutionary War veterans. My Kenyan grandmother just got electricity in her house. I have a half-sister who is Indonesian, a brother-in-law who is Chinese-Canadian. My relatives are Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. In my extended family, we speak “English, Indonesian, French, Cantonese, German, Hebrew, African languages including Swahili, Luo and Igbo, and even a few phrases of Gullah, the Creole dialect of the South Carolina Low country.”