In Search of The True American
" We have become not a melting pot, but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs,different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams."
- Jimmy Carter
We go to Chicago to see that mosaic and to build one of our own. We go to walk outside of ourselves and within.
Throughout the life of the city, people have come to Chicago seeking opportunity. Families dream of a better life for themselves and more important, for their children.
We also seek opportunity in Chicago. We go there to see and experience immigration and diversity in action. We go to Chicago In Search of the True American.
This is not an image that will suddenly or magically appear. It is not an image created or seen on television or other media. It is not a phrase that can be defined in a textbook. Yet, this image is found all around us.
We will see and meet the True American as we visit neighborhoods that have formed and reformed, according to immigration trends and patterns. We will interact with Americans working hard to build lives and traditions in a new country while also preserving and sharing the traditions and values of their heritage.
The True American also is found in each one of us. We see it – and live it – as we work and live together while also celebrating our individual talents and contributions.
This week in Chicago is a beginning, not an end. It is the beginning of a new framework through which to live. In this framework, differences are welcomed and explored rather than feared and avoided.
This trip marks the first step for a new group of "Diversity Ambassadors." These students – you – will become leaders in McLean County as our cities, towns and villages continue to evolve and welcome new families.
By participating in this project you are letting others know that you believe in yourself, each other and the world around you. You are showing that you value the culture, history, beliefs and ideas that each one of us holds, as well as the community that brings us together.
You are an example of diversity in action. You are indeed True Americans.
Rebecca A. Loda
May 22, 2005