Why I am happy my son married an immigrant!

Yesterday my beautiful, smart and kind daughter-in-law graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in business. She worked very hard to earn her degree, after coming to this country as a teenager. She was not completely fluent in English when she arrived in Boston, but it did not take her long to catch up to her peers here. She is an intelligent and accomplished young woman, and we are proud to have her as a member of our family. I am especially happy that my son married an immigrant.

I was raised by my immigrant grandparents, and they were wonderful role models for me. They emphasized education, hard work and sacrifice. One of my earliest memories is sitting on my grandfather’s lap in his rocking chair as he read to me. By the time I was 4 years old I was reading on my own, and I used to read to my classmates in kindergarten. We did not have a lot of money, but we always had books, and I spent a lot of time in the library as a kid. My grandmother sacrificed to give me a private school education (she worked part time in her 50s and 60s as a nurse’s aid in a nursing home in South Boston to pay for my schooling), and she was constantly drilling into my head the importance of education.

My nana told me that education was something “that could not be taken away from you”. She also emphasized the importance of a woman having an education so she could support herself, and not be “dependent on a man to support you”. These lessons have served me well over the years, and have led me to a career in education, trying to impart my nana’s wisdom to the next generation of students.

So, why am I happy that my son married an immigrant? Immigrants (in general) are very hard working, they appreciate what America has to offer, and they understand the value of hard work, sacrifice and education. To paraphrase JFK, they ask not what their country can do for them, but what they can do for their country. Many second, third and fourth generation Americans are too far removed from this immigrant story of struggle. Too many Americans today are fat, lazy, whiners. They expect things to be handed to them, and they do not understand the value of hard work and sacrifice. When the going gets tough, they fold. This is why we have such an epidemic of snowflakes in this country.

I want my grandchildren to hear the stories of sacrifice, hard work, love of country and dedication that their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents endured to make a better life for our family. I hope to instill the values in my grandchildren that my immigrant grandparents instilled in me. Children need to learn and appreciate that good things come to those who work hard. They need to appreciate the joy that comes from achieving a goal that you set for yourself and you attained through struggle, sweat and tears. They also need to learn to give back, and appreciate the gift they have been given, to grow up in a country with so much opportunity for those who are willing to work to achieve their goals.

I am glad that my son married an immigrant, and as I look around my office on a sunny spring Saturday, I see that over 90% of the students who are here today and are working hard to improve themselves are children of immigrants. These families (many of modest means) are sacrificing to give their children the gift of education. A gift that will stay with them longer than any material gift, and one that will lift them up both intellectually and spiritually. America is a country of immigrants, and today more than ever we need the hope, optimism, work ethic, and the values of our immigrants to make this country great!

Anne Yount

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