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ÁREA DE OPINIÓN Y COLABORACIONES

EAT TURKEY, BECOME AMERICAN

BY MARIE MYUNG-OK LEE

 

NOVEMBER 26, 2014

THE NEW YORK TIMES

The opinion Pages

 

 

When I was growing up in northern Minnesota, our family’s

Thanksgivings were straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Every Thanksgiving morning, my mother would rise at 6 and open the

Better Homes and Gardens cookbook to check the roasting directions for the Butterball turkey.

 

A neighbor had shown her how stuffing required an entire stick of Land O’Lakes butter, which both repulsed and thrilled us. My older brothers opened cans — jimmying out the cranberry sauce, using a church key

to pierce the condensed milk for the pie. My sister and I made autumn leaves out of construction paper to decorate the table. My father’s role was to set up the camera on a tripod, rush to join us for the family picture, and to carve.

I found it all a bit predictable, even banal. But for my parents, Korean

immigrants, Thanksgiving was anything but. As children, my parents lived under the brutal Japanese occupation, through the end of World War II. Then came the partition of Korea. As the realities of what was fomenting in the new North Korea became apparent, people began to flee. My father had already moved to Seoul to attend college.

 

My mother, only 14, fled south a day ahead of the rest of her family — but also the day the 38th Parallel was sealed, forever separating her from them.

In 1953, my father came to the United States, and my mother followed

him soon after. My father was a highly trained doctor who had worked as a

translator for American generals during the war. Those connections got my

parents a visa, even though at the time America had instituted laws that

effectively barred most immigrants from East Asia.

 

After a few years, my father was unable to get the visa renewed, but he

was sure his immigration problems would soon work themselves out; a

German doctor he knew had become a citizen with a minimum of fuss. My

father got a job in a small mining town in Minnesota called Hibbing. The

hospital needed him: Northern Minnesota was a difficult sell for prospective doctors, with its arctic winters and lower salaries. And as the lone anesthesiologist, he was basically on call all the time.

 

However, the racial difference between my father and his German friend

became apparent when deportation notices for my parents arrived (on the day that I was born, according to family lore). My two older brothers and I were American citizens, but the Immigration and Naturalization Service didn’t care. My parents were approached by immigration “lawyers” who promised to help, and promptly disappeared with their money.

 

Just when my parents thought all was lost, the townspeople of Hibbing

turned out to sign a petition requesting that the government allow us to stay

because my father was essential to the safety and well-being of the town. Our congressman took this scroll of names to Washington, where it was rejected out of hand on the assumption that if my father was given what was then the equivalent of a green card, he would pack up for more lucrative opportunities and Hibbing would lose a doctor anyway. That’s when another congressman, who knew my father personally, privately appealed to aver that no, William Chae-sik Lee, M.D., would stay put.

 

This Jimmy Stewart-esque moment remained a high point for my parents, one that helped them get through the times when people drove by our house yelling “chink!” or when we kids were bullied at school. My parents

were determined to return the favor America had done for them. They

insisted that we were not Koreans or even Korean-Americans, but Americans.

 

What it all comes down to is that the family is the unit of cultural

preservation. This is true for all families, but for immigrants, it is particularly bittersweet; to do one thing means something else is excluded. There is a fall holiday in Korea, Chuseok, that is referred to as Korean Thanksgiving. It, too, involves special food — crescent-shaped dumplings called songpyeon — and family. But this is something I learned in my 30s, as a Fulbright scholar in Korea. I took an almost anthropological interest, watching as bustling Seoul shut down for three days and my colleagues left for their distant hometowns.

 

A few years after American immigration laws were loosened in 1965, my

parents became citizens (and even then, my father remained in Hibbing,

eventually finishing out a 40-year career at Hibbing General Hospital). More Korean immigrants arrived, and a Korean grocery eventually opened, albeit a four-hour drive away in Minneapolis. At home, however, our Midwestern diets remained inviolate, on Thanksgiving in particular. Its rituals gave our family’s embryonic American life structure. It became my parents’ yearly recommitment ceremony to America.

 

As kids, dressed up and trying not to squirm at the table, it didn’t occur to

us that we had the entire weight of Korean history behind us. Because our

parents never spoke about Korea, we felt as if we’d landed in the middle of the Iron Range of Minnesota via spaceship. How were we to know that my father, who bought the 12-pound turkey, had almost starved to death during the early part of the war? That while we voiced our complaints that we were bored, myparents, under the Japanese occupation, had not been allowed to speak theirown language or even use their own names?

It is only in hindsight that I realize that this succession of Thanksgivings,

never missed, never altered, was a gift. It was the ultimate gift my parents

could have given their children, of optimism and safety, the feeling that the

next Thanksgiving would be a lot like this one, a predictable celebration of

abundance and family.

 

Marie Myung-Ok Lee teaches writing at Columbia and is working on a

novel about the future of medicine.

A version of this article appears in print on 11/27/2014, on page A35 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Eat Turkey, Become American.

1 de MAYO, Día Internacional de los Trabajadores

por Marta S.

El 1 de Mayo es conocido internacionalmente por el Día de los Trabajadores.

En las ciudades occidentales se cuenta como un día festivo en el que se manifiestan los sindicatos para reivindicar o denunciar las condiciones laborales.

 

En los diferentes medios de comunicación vemos cómo cada año van cambiando los lemas de las manifestaciones.También cómo se aprovecha este día, año tras año, si cae cerca de un fin de semana para hacer puente y olvidarse lo primero, de las obligaciones laborales.

 

¿Evolución? ¿Descafeinando una situación que nos afecta a todos?

 

El origen de este día, en 1886, EEUU, Chicago. Era la fecha señalada para reclamar en plena era industrial de trabajadores con jornadas de 10 a 14 horas diarias, un cambio de las condiciones. ¿Qué se podía reclamar por aquél entonces? Una jornada de más de 10 horas no dejaba energía y posibilidad de otras actividades ¿formación? ¿ocio?...parece que al catre y a comer para aguantar. Y es de suponer que si hubieran sido bien remuneradas, el tirón para ahorrar y después emplearlo se sopesaría por algunos.

 

Desde 1884 la Federación Americana del Trabajo se impuso la meta de 8 horas laborales. En las manifestaciones de Chicago de 1886, la violencia acabó con la vida de obreros y el atentado a policías. Hubo condenados a muerte, a prisón perpetua y un suicidio. Son los conocidos como los Mártires de Chicago.

 

Ese es lo que dice la Historia de hace más de cien años. Sin embargo, este año... no parece que las razones por las que se originó todo estén tan lejanas. Y el pulso entre quién convoca una manifestación y quién se marcha de puente, se queda en tablas.

ACEOI-Fuente: Berlinerzeitung_1.05.201 ACEOI-Fuente: Berlinerzeitung_1.05.2014
ACEOI-Berlinerzeitung_1.05.2014 ACEOI-Berlinerzeitung_1.05.2014
ACEOI_Lefigaro_1.05.2014 ACEOI_Lefigaro_1.05.2014

Le figaro.fr

Les syndicats n'ont pas réussi à mobiliser les Français, malgré leur opposition à François Hollande.

 

Ce 1er Mai, les lignes de fracture du syndicalisme français entre contestataires et réformistes sont apparues plus fortes que jamais. La CGT, FO, Solidaires, FSU ont défilé ensemble un peu partout en France contre la politique du gouvernement. «1er Mai, journée internationale des travailleuses et des travailleurs. Unis contre l'austérité!», annonçait la banderole du carré de tête de la manifestation parisienne, qui accueillait les numéros un de la CGT, de FSU et de Solidaires, mais aussi Pascal Cherki, le député de l'aile gauche du PS. Un cortège où l'on pouvait croiser un peu plus loin Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Front de gauche), Arlette Laguiller et Nathalie Arthaud (LO), et Olivier Besancenot (NPA). La ligne était donc claire. «Nous voulons redire notre opposition au pacte tel que conçu par Hollande et Gattaz. On demande au gouvernement d'entendre le ras-le-bol», a insisté Thierry Lepaon, le numéro un de la CGT. Il faut «arrêter de prendre l'argent dans le public pour aider les entreprises», a abondé Bernadette Groison, de la FSU. Banderoles, tracts, musique: rien ne manquait à cette mobilisation… sauf l'affluence. Les manifestants étaient 65.000 à Paris et 210.000 en France, selon le pointage de la CGT. Pour la police, ils étaient 100.000 en France et 15.500 dans la capitale. /.../

Toutefois, les différents leaders ont récusé l'idée de guerre syndicale. Tout juste ont-ils reconnu la «désunion» actuelle. Et, de fait, les sections «fonction publique» de tous les syndicats appellent à manifester de façon unanime le 15 mai contre le gel du point d'indice de fonctionnaires, qui sert de base à leur rémunération. À sept mois des élections dans la fonction publique, aucune centrale ne veut apparaître comme faible. «Souvent l'unité se fait dans l'opposition», avait admis Laurent Berger, le 18 avril. Cette règle se vérifie à nouveau. Pour le gouvernement, ce 15 mai sera donc le vrai test de la mobilisation contre sa politique.

ACEOI_Thetimes_1.05.1014 ACEOI_Thetimes_1.05.1014
ACEOI_Thetimes_1.05.1014 ACEOI_Thetimes_1.05.1014

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