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Friday, November 29, 2013

First American Thanksgiving


Languages are like tectonic plates that are constantly moving, and along the seams where they collide, you have Creole. - Phillip L., history professor, CA
Change Me As We Go is about taking ideas from one field and applying them to another. It’s about sharing our views and learning from each other. Yesterday, I had my first American Thanksgiving. We were invited to join a colleague, his aunt, uncle and cousins for an exquisite family lunch. As we introduced ourselves, we learned a bit more about american culture, the history behind thanksgiving, Austria, Canada, and a bit about Mauritius, of course. I told them about the Dutch, French, and British settlers, the different holidays we celebrate in Mauritius, and how we generate hydro power from accumulated rain water in our reservoirs. Then I explained how you will barely ever see any Mauritians speaking our official language (English) on a daily basis, while virtually all media is in French, but most people really speak Creole. Furthermore, I admire many of my friends of Indian decent who can not only speak English, French, Creole, but also one or more of Hindi, Tamil, Bhojpuri, Telegu, Urdu, Arabic. I explained that our Creole was mostly derived from French, and was quite similar to Haitian creole and Seychellois creole and that started a short discussion about language. The quote above is a line said by uncle Phillip which stuck with me during our conversation.
I also heard a very interesting story of how online genealogy research has led them to suddenly discover that they have relatives in Ontario, Canada! It was a fascinating story. Unfortunately, it would be really hard for us to find much about our history. Most Mauritian Chinese came from the same areas of China. So we know where our grandparents or great grandparents are from. Could there be more to the family history than we might think? Maybe we have relatives in Trinidad! Or Saudi Arabia or India. The Hakka people migrated a lot. I wonder…
Overall, I would say it was a very pleasant first Thanksgiving in America and it was an absolute joy to share this special meal in such great company. While I’m typically not a history buff, I really enjoyed hearing uncle Phillip’s mini history lessons. It somehow gave me a little glimpse of why history fascinates some people. It’s not just about remembering the past. It’s also about inspiring the next generation, contributing to their careers, and hopefully their character. Thank you to the wonderful family who made my first American thanksgiving a special one.

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