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How would you feel if you had to move to a foreign country where people spoke a language you didn’t know, acted strangely, and ate strange food? Scary? Yes! I immigrated (Immigration is when a person moves from one country to another) from Japan to the United States when I was eight years old. Even with my parents and brother at my side, leaving my home and coming to America was frightening and exciting.

Imagine if you moved to Bhutan. Don’t know where that is? The country is nestled between India and China, its northern section located in the Himalayan Mountains. The country is about the size of West Virginia or South Carolina. If you moved there, you would have to learn a new language, make new friends, perhaps live without flush toilets and heat with woodstoves. You’d be surrounded mostly by Buddhists. You can wear Western clothes, but locals wear their native robe-like dress. There are no enormous shopping malls. Many people don’t own cars. High tech equipment is not readily available. If you lived in an isolated town or a village, you might have to cross a steep mountain to reach a specialized doctor.

Sound strange? For many immigrants coming to the U.S., our country is just as bewildering to them. So if you meet someone not familiar with our customs or someone who doesn’t speak English well, don’t think they’re stupid. Don’t shun them or make fun of them. They’re trying the best they can to fit in, but it’s hard. Put yourself in their place. Imagine if you were in Bhutan. Help them. Explain our ways to them. Speak slowly so they can understand you. They’re people just like you. More than likely one of your ancestors immigrated to America.

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