In the past the United States was often described as a melting pot: Immigrants from all over the world came to America to become Americans.
As immigrants from all over the world were arriving in the United States it forced the leaders to begin thinking of how these people would become part of the new nation. How should they become Americans? Massive immigration led to the biggest question of all : “What is an American?” And perhaps the most famous answer to that question was given by Crèvecoeur, a Frenchman, in 1783: "Here individuals of all races are melted into a new race of men”. More than a century later these same ideas were expressed in the myth of “the melting pot.”
- races = folkegrupper
- melt = smelte
- century = århundre/hundreår
- express = uttrykke
- myth = myte
- How would you define the word American?
- How was it described in 1783?
The term came from a play called The Melting Pot, which was written in 1908. Melting pots were used in industry to melt materials together to make stronger metal. In the play people from different nations were melted together and born again as Americans. Most immigrants left behind their culture, traditions and language and started a new "American" life. Some people went so far as to change their name so they would blend in more with the people.
- a play = et skuespill/ eit skodespel
- blend in = gå over i hverandre/gå over i kvarandre
- What does the term melting pot mean?
- What is the purpose of changing one's name? Can you think of examples of how it would help the immigrant?
The Immigrant Experience
The move from one country to another is not always easy. Immigrants often felt as if they had been uprooted and transplanted. These words described the negative sides of the immigrant experience. They felt torn between two worlds. Which world should they call home? The result is a flow of emotions from joy to guilt. Yet, as with most things, time heals and the immigrant experience turns into a positive one.
experience = opplevelse/oppleving
- emotion = følelse
- torn between = revet mellom/riven mellom
- guilt = skyld/skuld
- heal = helbrede/lækje
- What do you think is meant by the words uprooted and transplanted in connection with immigration? Look them up in the dictionary.
- What negative experiences can you think of that a new immigrant might have?
- Why would an immigrant feel guilt?
A Positive Outlook
Today's outlook is much brighter. Immigrants have the advantage of having two cultural traditions and people now see this as a new and exciting ethnic experience. The immigrant no longer feels the need to have to leave their culture and identity behind. They can have both. Their two worlds can blend together rather than remain separate.
- advantage = fordel
- blend together = gå over i hverandre/gå over i kvarandre
1. What might be some advantages of having two cultural traditions?
Salad Bowl and Pizza
Positive terms used today to describe this blend of cultures are salad bowl and pizza. Both of these foods are made of several ingredients either mixed together in a bowl or held together by dough. People can retain their heritage while at the same time feel like they are American. You can identify as Iranian-American, Irish-American, Italian-American, Korean-American and so on. Across generations people may pick up several different cultural identities. Many Americans feel their identity is a blend of several cultures. Immigrants are proud of their heritage and even prouder that the nation of America has welcomed them.
- dough = deig
- flavor = smak, krydder
- What are the two positive terms used today to describe the immigrant experience?
- Do people have to give up their heritage to feel American?
Tasks and Activities
Comprehension and Vocabulary
- With a partner discuss the three terms: melting pot, salad bowl and pizza. How do they differ? Which term do you think best describes the US today?
- What ingredients would you put in a salad or pizza? Perhaps draw a picture and label each of the parts.
- Imagine leaving your home country and immigrating to the US. What are some things you could do to learn how to become an American? And what traditions/culture from your homeland would you take along with you?