Posted by: marykfurness | January 5, 2011

Diversify That Culture!

What’s that you say?  No musical reference in the title?  Just wait; there’ll be one in here somewhere, I assure you.

I’m sitting in my favorite writing place–those of you who know me well, know of where I speak–and with all that is going on around me, I began to reflect on the idea of cultural diversity.  Of course, Martin Luther King’s birthday is coming up, and that sparked a bit of it; but what really set it off, is that I’m sitting smack in the middle of an oasis of cultural diversity, the likes of which MLK probably never thought about!  Here in this little microcosm, I, a woman of two cultures, am seated in a coffee shop/restaurant owned by a man of Arabic descent, married to an American woman. Today, the music coming out of the speakers happens to be Motown oldies (from the ’50’s no less!), but on any given day it could be Middle Eastern, Southern rock, Blues, or Cajun. (Oh, wait! I think they just changed to Patsy Cline!)

Sit in here for a few hours, and you will hear the lilt of African-American, Indian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, British, American Southern, Midwestern and other accents discoursing on everything from real estate to law to business, to “how ’bout them Tigers?” (Um, that’s the MU Tigers, for those of you from out-of-town…)

Step outside of here, and it’s the same–a conglomeration of cultures tucked into a population of 100,000 in the middle of this most Midwestern of Midwestern states.  Our son has gone or now goes to school with kids from Bulgaria, Russia, Korea, China, Japan, Puerto Rico (yes, it’s an American territory, but the girl spoke no English ’til she came here!), India, The West Bank (Gaza); oh, more than I can remember! Is a large part of it due to this being a university town?  Probably.  But many of those people stay here after their schooling–we having doctors from many cultures who practice here, as an example.

The interesting part is, if you drive outside the city limits to another town, you lose that diversity.  Kansas City and St. Louis have it–google their history for a run-down on that!–but the smaller  towns, and even some of the other college and university towns; not so much.  It wasn’t always that way–this state was once a haven for immigrants.  But that is a tale for another time.

My point? The sheer joy I get from interacting with other people from other places, either foreign or domestic, adds so much to my life!  And the fact that I can do it in a place where I support local entrepreneurs makes it even better.

Happy New Year everyone!



  1. Love this. It always seems to me that this is the real patriotism, that is, loving what is true and best about our country, rather than touting the cartoon version involving an empty country discovered and populated by white people.

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