April is Celebrate Diversity Month, a great time to embrace the diversity around us in all its forms.
First of all, we're a nation of immigrants. Whether we arrived by boat or plane today or by chasing mammoths across the frozen Bering Strait 15,000 years ago, we all came here from somewhere else.
Unfortunately, we tend to define one who is "native" by how long that person - or that person's ancestors - have lived here. In many places in Iowa, for example, we don't consider a person "one of us" unless that person's family has lived here six generations.
However, that's beginning to change - and rapidly. With fewer people on the farm, and more people traveling to jobs across the country, the definition of being a "native" of one's own state or even country is beginning to blur.
We have doctors from Latin and Asian countries, engineers from Europe and India and scientists from everywhere. As the world is getting smaller, we are depending increasingly on experts from around the world to meet our technological, scientific and labor needs.
As a result, our country is becoming increasingly diverse. Just as Europeans came from Italy, Scandinavia and the British Isles 150 years ago, or even more, we see people coming from Latin America, Asia and Africa to fill the labor needs of our country. The road runs the other way too, with Americans volunteering in many countries around the globe through Peace Corps, serving in the military and taking jobs in banking and industry on the other side of the planet.
The reality is that diversity has become the new norm. Just look at the wonderful ethnically diverse dining establishments we have now in Estherville that we didn't have a generation or two ago. And our community is all the richer for it.
So when you get the chance, get to know your neighbors from another country, another culture. Get to know their culture. Get to know them.
And you never know how you might discover about yourself.