Assimilation of Immigrants

by Sungho
Immigrants should assimilate in the United States because a civilized society requires a citizenry that has common ideals and shared values. This does not mean immigrants should give up their own culture, customs and language. Although they try to assimilate in the United States, they ought to keep their own culture and thoughts at the same time.

When somebody just follows the new country's culture without his or her own culture, the person feels lonely and loses his or her own values later. In fact, I have also experienced the similar things. When I came to this country at first, I used to try to conform to many American customs unconditionally and I set my own culture aside. Even if I could learn about many new cultures and customs at first, I recognized the problem where I was and I finally tried to integrate my own culture and values with the new culture.

It is difficult to integrate both cultures, sometimes. I have seen many immigrants who are oblivious to their own culture. This does not mean immigrants should be "cultural separatists". This means immigrants should have "cultural subjectivity". No new immigrants want to feel inferior in the United States. Assimilation can mean that the immigrant feels his or her culture is inferior to the new dominant culture. I do not favor assimilation at this point. It is possible for immigrants to feel inferiority because of an obstacle and difficulty of language and communication. Immigrants' own languages are not used often like English when they are living in the United States. Immigrants learn English because they need it to prosper. Immigrants need to assimilate at this point even if they want to keep and preserve their own language. If they do not want to assimilate and learn this country's language, they will continue to live outside the mainstream culture and will be isolated. For instance, San Francisco is a very multicultural and multilingual city. Some immigrants here who speak English very well seem to live better compared to other immigrants.

On the other hand, the recent revolt against bilingual education could be an excuse for some people not to learn English. We should carefully consider the implications of anything that promotes "cultural separatism." If cultural separatism prevails in the multicultural city, the society must be divided and confused.

Choosing assimilation or cultural separatismdepends on the individual immigrants. Essentially, it is not right that someone supported cultural separatism and wanted to create totally separatedcultures in society. Society, by definition, is a system in which people live together in organized communities. A multicultural society would prosper from assimilation on the condition that immigrants' cultures are assimilated as equals, not as "inferiors." While it is inappropriate for an immigrant to be totally a "cultural separatist" in a multicultural society, it is also wrong for him to give up his own culture. People who are not immigrants should be involved in immigrants' problems and immigrants should assimilate to the society while trying to preserve their own cultures.