On twitter this evening – this series of tweets from a New York Times correspondent. Self explanatory. This is not a great America. This is a petty small-minded america.
Rukmini Callimachi is a correspondent for The New York Times, focusing on al-Qaeda and ISIS. Previously, seven years in West Africa as Correspondent & Bureau Chief for The AP.
On Twitter: Rukmini Callimachi @rcallimachi
1. Last night, I found myself in tears at the news. I do not recognize the America that welcomed my family so many years ago. #IAmARefugee
2. I usually use my Twitter feed to talk about ISIS. Today, I’d like to share my own story, as a metaphor for what is unique about America.
3. I was born in Communist Romania. When I was 5 in 1979, my mom grandmother & I boarded a train to Germany & were awarded refugee status
4. We moved to Switzerland where I lived until I was 10, the year America granted our immigration request. mobile.nytimes.com/2015/09/07/wor…
5. What I rarely speak about is the humiliation my family faced living in Switzerland as immigrants from a poor country in Eastern Europe
6. I’m sharing this now because I want to contrast how we were treated in Switzerland with how we were welcomed in America
7. That experience to me encapsulates what is truly unique, truly exceptional and truly good about this country, which is now in peril
8. My parents are doctors (mom is a dentist, dad is a pediatrician) & yet in Switzerland, I heard them reduced to “Ces putains de Roumains”
9. That translates to: “Those f……g Romanians.” It’s a phrase I heard hurled at my mom by a waiter in a Swiss cafe & by a train conductor
10. I understood that being Romanian was something to be ashamed of in Switzerland & I leaned French fluently so that I could pass for Swiss
11. But the label – “Romanian” and “refugee” – followed me to school. Before starting the school year, my mom bought me a pencil case
12. But when I got inside the classroom and took it out (I’m around 6 years old now and don’t yet speak French well), a teacher took it away
13. She put it up on a shelf next to the blackboard and when I asked why I couldn’t have it, she said that I must have stolen it.
14. My dad considered changing his name when he opened his pediatric practice, after ppl advised he’d lose business if name sounded Romanian
15. Everything changed for me the day we moved to California as (legal) immigrants. I will never forget my 1st day at the Oak Grove School
16. The other students asked me where I was from? In Switzerland, I had learned to hide my origin. So with trepidation, I said “Romania.”
17. The kids who had asked me got excited, said how cool it was, and asked me to teach them words in Romanian.
18. In my life, I’ve lived in Romania, Switzerland, England, India, Senegal & America. I can say with confidence that America is unique
19. It truly is the only place where *anyone* from anywhere can arrive and can belong/thrive. I am American far more than I am Romanian