An auditorium filled with 404 odd people. An unusual roll call. A roll call by countries. 60 to be precise. The person on the podium called out the name of the countries, one at a time alphabetically Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The people in the audience requested to rise from their chair when the country that they were born in would be called out.
As the roll call began, people rose from their chairs. First a few, then more and more. And finally all by the time the last country was called out.
404 people from 60 different nations in one room for one cause. Even without getting into the details of the cause, isn’t it just wonderful to even imagine that. It was an overwhelming moment. Now for the cause. Those 400 people were under one roof to adopt one nation that day. The nation that is called the land of immigrants. What also mattered was that there were 400 stories in the room that day. Stories of relocation, people’s struggles, their hopes and an anticipation of a better future.
Let’s put aside the discussion about patriotism. Merely living in a country that we were born into does not makes us patriotic. Patriotism demands more than that.
Everyone in the room that day had a different reason for being there. But there was a shared common dream across the room. A dream of a smaller world, a world where there is room for different cultures, languages, ethnicity and cuisines. Yet there was a common chord. My reason is no different. I am happy that I will see my kids grow in a much diverse society where they will learn to adapt and be more open to different cultures. It will be much more diverse than the one that I grew in or even my husband did.
A canvas with a single color or 60 different colors. It is a matter of choice. I chose the latter.
Authored by Piya Mukherjee. A discussion of immigration naturally steers towards a debate over love for one’s country of origin. A fresh perspective on how immigration and people living in different countries is making the world a smaller and better place to be.