Category Archives: Cultural Activities

Diversity Visa Lottery and Multiculturalism

The Diversity Visa Lottery is a national immigration program designed to bring people from nations who typically don’t immigrate to the United States into the country.

Many immigrants find this program to be the easiest or even the only immigration program in which they can participate.

Unlike other immigration programs that require that an immigrant already have an established job in the U.S. or family members currently living there, the Green Card Lottery (as the Diversity Visa Lottery is often called) has few requirements.

Through this program the U.S. has an opportunity to expand the degree of multiculturalism that exists within its borders.

In the past, multiculturalism and immigration have brought both good and bad things.

In the category of positive contributions, multiculturalism has encouraged innovation, strengthened the economy of the country and contributed to a broader understanding of culture.

Unfortunately, high levels of immigration have encouraged backlash throughout history. However, it is clear that the positive contributions of immigration far outweigh the negative impact it may have.

The United States was fundamentally founded by immigrants. It is ironic that even though the first immigrants to the Americas were European when even more Europeans immigrated to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th century, they were met with a great deal of opposition.

That period, of Ellis Island fame, brought forth some of the most successful and important industrialists of the age, such as Andrew Carnegie.

But great contributions to culture did not only originate from Europe, but every other continent and country has contributed large numbers of immigrants who have made America richer culturally.

Some policymakers in the U.S. government believe that the Green Card Lottery should be done away with, but this is a mistake. Immigration has brought numerous benefits to the country that cannot be counted and categorized. It is better to be the land of opportunity, than the land of application qualifications.

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Cultural Activities: A Melting Pot

The United States is often likened to a melting pot, or a crucible, to people to illustrate the way that many different kinds of people are part of American culture.

Even though these separate parts retain their own identities, they become part of the large idea of American culture as well.

Immigrants to the United States add to and strengthen the overall culture of the country and lead to fascinating groups within it.

Cultural Enclaves

There are many places in the United States where people of a certain culture reside in higher concentrations than in other places.

These places are often appended with the term “little”, however, this is not necessarily a degrading term, but, rather, an endearing term.

Little Italy, Little Germany and Little Armenia are a few examples of this usage in some American Cities. Other cities have China towns or Korea towns.

These places become hubs of cultural understanding in urban areas.

Groups

There are a number of cultural groups that meet in the United States for greater cultural understanding.

Some of these are religious based, and, indeed, there are many religions in the United States. So many that it’s hard to imagine that an existent religion is not present in the U.S.

Some of these establishments are more fixed in American culture (such as 4-H, The Knights of Columbus, or the Shriners), but there are new groups being formed all the time.

Some of these groups are professional in origin and relate to professions, trades or industries. Work is a very important part of daily culture in the United States.

Cultural Acceptance

Regardless of your culture or nationality, many Americans will be very eager to help you adjust to American life and to come into your own as a permanent resident of the United States.

 

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Cultural Activities: Fashion in the U.S.

People from around the world are familiar with American fashion, but did you know that one of the most distinctive features of American fashion was invented by an immigrant?

The United States in the 1800s saw a huge influx of immigrants from all over the world and Levi Strauss was one from Germany.

Strauss identified a need for durable and tough trousers for the gold prospectors in California and invented denim blue jeans which have since become iconic American apparel. Levi’s Jeans are of course a part of the company that Strauss invented.

At Work

Work clothing is relatively standardized within the United States. However, what style is supposed to be worn is largely dependent on what the job is.

Some jobs require the use of a uniform, an outfit dictated by the company itself. Nurses, retail employees and factory workers often wear uniforms.

Many professionals are allowed to dress in what is called business casual. This is generally a shirt that buttons and slacks for both genders. There is quite a great deal of variation in business casual though.

Formal wear is for high ranking positions and is typically a suit and tie for men or a pantsuit for women.

At Home

Outside of work nearly all forms of dress are acceptable.

There are many forms of informal American dress in the United States. The features of these styles are completely dependent on the ancestry of the person, their age and their culture.

Cowboy-chic is popular in the American West and is composed of blue jeans, cowboy hats and boots.

Religious Dress

If your religion requires a certain type of outfit inside or outside of your place of worship, this is acceptable and allowed.

It is not legal to be discriminated against based on one’s religious clothing in the United States.

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Cultural Activities: Visiting Washington D.C.

Permanent Residents are allowed to travel freely throughout the country and there are plenty of wonderful places to visit in the United States.

During the summer months many families in the U.S. travel to places they don’t often go to for tourism purposes. Termed family vacations, they are an American tradition.

Washington, D.C., the seat of the federal government of the U.S. is an extremely popular destination for family vacations for a variety of purposes.

The Center of Government

Since the District of Columbia is the Capitol of the entire country, it is full of educational opportunities for all members of the family of all ages.

Major, historical buildings are scattered throughout the district. Washington, D.C. is one of the first master planned cities in the world. Constructed on the border of Maryland and Virginia, the land was largely swampland before it was developed in the late 18th century.

The Capitol building (which houses Congress), the White House (Where the President lives) and the library of Congress are all located in Washington.

Land of Monuments

There are many monuments throughout Washington and they are all very impressive constructions to the memory of important events in United States History.

Some of the more famous monuments include:

  • The Washington Monument,
  • The Lincoln Memorial, and
  • The Vietnam Memorial.

Arts and Culture

Washington D.C., being a metropolitan area has many opportunities to absorb and consume culture. There are many theatres, arenas and performing arts centers throughout the city.

Two of note is Ford’s Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

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Recreation and the Third Place

A Green Card allows you to live and work indefinitely in the United States, but what does it mean to live in the United States. It isn’t just breathing, eating and sleeping, rather social engagement is necessary for successful integration into the US.

There is a concept in most societies which is referred to as a third place. The first and second places would be work and the home, but what is there to do with the other third of one’s days? Third places exist to build community bonds and provide people with the chance to commune somewhere other than work and home.

A third place can really be anywhere one chooses to spend a large amount of time. There are a number of standard third places that you may even be able to identify from your home country.

Here are some examples of third places:

  • Barbershops
  • Bars
  • Cafés
  • Religious institutions like churches, mosques or synagogues.
  • Parks
  • Spas
  • Coffee shops
  • Or anywhere else where people can gather.

The purpose of these places is to connect people within a community and to provide very necessary socialization for the people.

Finding a third place in your community will help you better adjust to life in the United States. Moving to a new place is hard, you’ll be away from your family and friends, but the fortunate thing is that you can make new friends at third places.

After a few years of permanent residency, you can apply for citizenship and that will make it even easier to help your family immigrate to the United States. But until then you may find that adjusting to your new home will be easier if you can find some new friends to talk to and converse with.

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The Empire State Building Built By Immigrants

The Empire State Building stood as the tallest man-made structure in the entire world and as a symbol of human achievement for forty years, this many people know, but did you know that it was built by immigrants?

At the time of the building’s construction, immigrants from Europe were streaming into the United States through the Ellis Island port in New York City. The informal intake system in New York did not ensure immigrants had jobs as soon as they entered their new home and they often were stuck within the city trying to scrape by with odd jobs.

However, when the construction of the Empire State Building began, labor was necessary and there were plenty of immigrants around willing to work on the project.

This was at the beginning of the Great Depression, a time in American history marked by great unemployment and stagnation in industry. Immigrants who worked on the Empire State Building circumvented these problems and created a beacon of hope within a country suffering from economic misfortune.

The building itself is quite beautiful, designed in the style of Art Deco (a very popular style at the time which can be found all over the country from construction projects from the 1930s) it stands at about 1,454 feet including the immense spire at its top. The spire has been illuminated by electric light since the building’s inception.

A symbol of New York City and the United States since its completion, it is appropriate that it was built by immigrants since it was immigrants who built the United States from the ground up.

The building often shows up in films in establishing shots to show that the scene about to take place is in New York City and is a part of history for its role in the 1933 classic film, King Kong.

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Cultural Activities: Cultural Outlook on Science

The United States has maintained a rather positive attitude on the use of science and scientific discovery in daily life practically since its inception.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founders of the United States, was a well-regarded scientist and inventor at the time of America’s start.

A very interesting thing about the inventors and scientists of America is how many of them were immigrants or the children of immigrants.

  1. Alexander Graham Bell, the man who invented the telephone and made our modern system of telecommunications possible was an immigrant from Scotland and Canada.
  2. Nikola Tesla, a Serbian immigrant to the United States is an inventor often overlooked, but he is responsible for a significant amount of exciting early research in the use of electricity. To paraphrase a comment by tesla about the “inventor” of the radio Guillermo Marconi, he is using several of my patents let him continue.
  3. Albert Einstein, the man credited to be the smartest man of the 20th century completely revolutionized the way we think about the world around us. He taught at Princeton University for many years before his death.
  4. Wernher von Braun immigrated to the United States from the German rocket research programs of the mid-20th century and eventually went on to design the rockets that took American astronauts to the moon.

These immigrants, all from diverse backgrounds contributed great things to the society of the United States. And all are considered equally American.

For generations they inspired young thinkers and students to become great scientists and inventors themselves, because in the United States you can become the very best that you think you can be.

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Cultural Activities: American Music

The United States is extremely well known for the unique musical styles that have originated within its borders for the past hundred or so years. One could potentially say that the incredible diversity found in the US is responsible for this musical innovation.

Listening to music, going to concerts and playing music is an extremely important part of American identity and as a new resident in this country, you may find yourself attracted to one musical “Scene” or another.

Below are only some of the original American musical genres.

Jazz

Jazz is an incredibly diverse musical form that has many different categories, each containing its own unique characteristics and styles.

Arising from the confluence of African and European culture in the American South, Jazz quickly became one of the most popular musical forms in the world in the early and mid-20th century.

Famous musicians in the Jazz family include Louis Armstrong, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis and Benny Goodman.

Rock and Roll

A genre that became extremely popular in the 1950s, and still maintains great popularity today, is rock and roll. This form of music has almost as many sub-genres as jazz.

Rock and roll, and later rock music, had its origins in jazz and blues as well as strong influences from country music. It is very hard to establish specific characteristics in this genre of music simply because each rock and roll brand strives to be unique in its own right and they often form their own brand of music.

Famous musicians in rock and roll and rock music from the United States are Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, the Grateful Dead and Elvis Presley.

Rap Music

Rap is a form of music that came out of urban areas in the early eighties and is probably the most popular musical form in the United States today. Rap music can often be identified by the unique vocal styling of its performers. Something of a combination between spoken word poetry, improvisation and complex rhythms make rap a rather unique kind of music.

Rap music is often lauded for dealing with interesting social problems within its lyrics and is considered to be a very serious art-form.

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Cultural Activities: Political Participation

After you have been a Permanent Resident for a period of time you can then become a citizen with the ability to vote and to run for office, but there are other ways to participate in the political system.

History

Political participation has a long history in the United States, in fact, many of the Europeans who first immigrated to America did so because they were protesting the religious persecution they experienced in their home countries.

The years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War were also full of protests and political thought. The US constitution was written by a bunch of people who were very much interested in how to form the best government for their 13 colonies.

Even in recent years, the value of political participation has been felt during the upheaval of the Great Recession. There are many different forms of political participation, but two main categories may be considered voting and protest.

Only for Citizens?

While citizens are the only residents of the United States to vote, that doesn’t necessarily limit permanent residents from participating in the politics of the times. Many peaceful protests are organized every year in the interest of immigrants in the United States and it only take a little bit of looking to find an organization that supports these activities.

The two-party system

The US has what is called a two-party system. There are two rather large political parties, but these aren’t the only ones, there are many smaller parties which are collectively known as “third parties”.

However, the majority of Americans choose to be represented in their government by the two major parties. Learning more about these two political parties may help you get a better understanding of how you lean on the political spectrum.

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Cultural Activities: Famous American Authors

The United States, being a country founded on immigrants, often had its own stories told by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Often, the ancestors of American authors had detailed histories which described their passage into the United States.

Here, we’ve collected some short descriptions of famous American authors for your perusal in the hopes that by reading them, you may find some additional cultural understanding of your new home.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s most famous work, The Scarlet Letter, details some of New England’s more dark beginnings as a colony of puritans. This classic of literature examines sin and social justice in a new land. This novel is often required reading for American high school students.

Herman Melville

Moby Dick is the quintessential adventure novel from the United States. From a peaceful teaching job, to the rough and tumble Nantucket, to the exiting travels across the ocean to the brink of madness, Ishmael follows Captain Ahab, a man obsessed with revenge against a whale who took his leg.

This was one of Melville’s only successful books, which he wrote shortly after a similar adventure he had. He died impoverished, working at a clerk’s desk, but his classic remains famous in the US and elsewhere.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman was a quiet and solitary man. This left him a great deal of time to contemplate the world and bind his thoughts into the lasting compendium that is Leaves of Grass. Mr. Whitman arguably belonged to the Transcendentalist school of thought in the 1800s and is closely related to another great American author, Henry David Thoreau.

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly was a journalist in a peculiar time in American history. Not only was it unusual for a woman to be a professional at the time, but it was outright shocking for a woman to be doing such in-depth reporting.

In Ten Days in a Mad-House, Bly set to uncovering the corrupt system of insane asylums of the late 1800s and pave the way for investigative journalists for a century to come!

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