Friday, November 30, 2007

Soapbox: Get to know the newcomers among us

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2007 at 8:30 PM

By Nadia Ali

I was talking to a young Turkish student at Georgia State the other day, making light conversation and asking about his experiences here in this country -- and in Atlanta in particular -- and his responses got me thinking. He mentioned many positive things about the United States and about Atlanta, but also compared our city to other big cities in the country -- New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. He noted that Atlanta does have a diverse international community, albeit not as large as some of those other mentioned cities -- yet he also reflected a little sadly on how hard it was to break into any community here other than one's "own" ethnicity. Even among the student population, ethnicities tended to clump together more often than not, though there were exceptions among individuals. While this is true in the other big American cities, it seemed to be particularly true for him in Atlanta.

I can't help remembering that conversation. Maybe because my own father first came to this country in order to go to college, back in the 1960s. He's been here ever since and has given back to his alma mater (his medical school in particular) as well as to his community, ever since. He doesn't need someone to reach out to him anymore, but I imagine he did when he first got here. Or maybe because I've traveled myself a little bit and know how much it can mean to have someone reach out to you when you are somewhere other than where you were born, on those occasions when you can't help feeling like a little bit of an outsider. I do know of one group here in Atlanta, the Atlanta Ministry with International Students Inc., which "provides friendship and hospitality to the more than 5,500 international students from 140 nations studying at colleges and universities in the metro-Atlanta area." Maybe there are other groups here in Atlanta that share that goal and I'm simply not familiar with them. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in college myself, after all. All I know is that it's a good goal, that of welcoming those who come here to study and to live.

One of the things we pride ourselves on here in Atlanta is that we are always growing, the major, most diversified city of the South (Miami not included!). I think it would be worth our while to make more of a conscious effort to get to know those students and other folks who are choosing to make Atlanta their home and help us grow.

Nadia Ali is the co-producer of the WRFG-FM (89.3) radio show "Just Peace."

Tags: , ,


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Fresh Loaf

More by Soapbox Editor

Eat what you grow
Eat what you grow

Search Events

Search Fresh Loaf

Recent Comments

© 2015 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation