Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Anchor Babies, Kiev, Dog Parks, Caracas, Learn Spanish

So it's been an interesting few weeks in global affairs. Apparently the cold-war restarted, and Venezuela is in some kind of melt-down.  It's in this now interconnected world it plays out in my personal life and even at my local dog park.

Let's take, for example, the problems in Ukraine.  You would think that an uprising so far away would have small ripples in balmy South Florida.   My hubby works for a company based behind the Iron Curtain. (I'm going to just use Cold War terms from here on out.)  His boss makes a mysterious trip to "check out" the South Florida office. An office with just six employees.  A very small branch office of a large multinational company.  Every one is in a fuss....nobody knows why he's coming.  They invite him and his wife out to dinner......she shows up with her 10 day old baby.....her ten day old "anchor" baby.  They are proud parents of an American citizen.  She proceeds to tell us how all her friends back home use a large network of hospitals and doctors that cater well-to-do Eastern Europeans who want their babies born in the U.S.  I was wondering if recent events might alter her very sunny maternity in Sunny Isles along with all her well-to-do Soviet moms that are busily hatching new ties to the west everyday. What surprised me more was the matter-of-fact way it was presented. It is as if she was saying: "Of course my baby will be born in the West, really, do you think I want  to live my life out in that gulag we call a country?"

So yesterday I'm at the lovely Legion Park on Biscayne Bay.  The nice winter weather and my new puppy are what draws me there. I'm chatting with some fellow native English speakers. My neighborhood is very eclectic but weirdly, it's not dominated by Spanish speakers like many other parts of Miami are.  We are having a pleasant conversation, playing fetch with our dogs and enjoying the nice weather as they romp across an open field. A family of Venezuelans greet us everyday and play with the dogs. They don't speak any English. I chat with her in Spanish and ask a few questions about the situation in Caracas and how things are. "Your friends should learn Spanish, she said to me."

"How long have you lived here?" I asked in Spanish.

"Three months, but your friends should rally learn Spanish so they can communicate." She replied.

"So you're not going back?" I asked. 

"No, I've got my immigration status settled here and the kids are in school, we've left our lives back in Venezuela and are starting over here. Besides all my friends are here now and most of my family are on the way.Your friends should learn to speak Spanish." she insisted. 

I can't help but feel a little used as an American. I'm not sure how middle-class immigrants view the American dream when they are arriving to luxury waterfront condos and paying for expensive maternity care out of pocket. I can't wonder how invested anyone can be in a place when they "made it" somewhere else and just picked up and plopped down and started demanding that everyone learn their customs and language as the bourgeoisie are wont to do. Really, do you demand that a bunch of people in a park learn to speak to you, in a foreign tongue when you've only been here three months?