Welcome to My Site
If this is your first visit, welcome! This site is devoted to my life experiences as a Filipino-American who immigrated from the Philippines to the United States in 1960. I came to the US as a graduate student when I was 26 years old. I am now in my early-80's and thanks God for his blessings, I have four successful and professional children and six grandchildren here in the US. My wife and I had been enjoying the snow bird lifestyle between US and Philippines after my retirement from USFDA in 2002. Please do not forget to read the latest national and International News in this site . I have also posted some of my favorite Filipino and American dishes and recipes in this site. Some of the photos and videos in this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringing on your copyrights. Cheers!
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Our First Thanksgiving Day in United States, 1960
It was November,1960 when Macrine and I and our oldest son,Dodie(who was only 2 years old then) experienced our first Thanksgiving Celebration in the United States. That year, I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois at the Medical Center in Chicago. The Chicago Hospitality Center along with YMCA and CFM invites all Foreign students in the area to spend a Thanksgiving weekend to the homes of volunteers in small towns of Illinois away from the crowded city of Chicago. Some of my foreign student friends were reluctant and did not accept the invitation, but I had an adventurous spirit so with great anticipation, Macrine and I along with Dodie went with 12 other foreign students and their families to Central Illinois. Our host for that weekend was Mrs. Johnston, a widow from Danville, Illinois. She lives alone and her beautiful bungalow house right in downtown Danville. We left Chicago in the morning, had thanksgiving dinner ( turkey and all its trimmings)in late afternoon. This was followed by a program in the evening at a local community center, where all the Hosts met and socialized with other invited students from Korea, Iran, Mexico, Japan, Chile, South Africa, Egypt and the Philippines. Macrine, Dodie and I represented the Philippines.
The next day we had a grand tour of the area, the farms and then to Springfield, the capital of Illinois. The tour of the area and Springfield was the highlight of our 2 days break from our hectic schedules as a graduate students.
So, did I like the roasted turkey? Nope, that was first time I had turkey. In the Philippines we do not celebrate Thanksgiving and I had never tasted turkey before. I did not like the pumpkin pie either. What I enjoyed was the oyster stuffing,ice cream and the cranberries sauce.
So why do I write this post. Well, to thank the Lord for all the good things and the past 49 years of Thanksgiving Days, He has given me and my family so far here in US. In addition our visit to the “real” Americans ( not the Ugly ones) that Thanksgiving day in 1960 prompted me to write an article of my impressions of the US at that time and has remained in my memory until today:
Our Impression of America
" During our first year in Chicago, we never received an invitation to participate in the hospitality program. Our name was probably buried in the list of foreign students or perhaps our foreign student adviser was sleeping in her job. During these first year of adjustments to the American way of life, we formed a very wrong impression of Americans. Asides from our daily contacts with fellow students in the school rooms or dormitories, our only other social contacts were people in the streets, subways, buses, department stores, supermarkets and other public places. These were all artificial contacts, giving us an impression that Americans are unfriendly, artificial, insincere, apathetic,intolerant and above all ignorant.The latter adjective was quite true, since the ordinary or typical American does not have the vaguest idea where the Philippines, Japan or even Puerto Rico is located in the map.
" However, in our second year, we began receiving invitation to spend a weekend in suburban homes as well as dinner invitations in city homes. At first, we were reluctant to accept the invitation, however with our adventurous spirit, we said yes.
From then on, "we have the whole world in our hands". We are thankful to CFM, the YWCA and the Hospitality Center of Chicago for making our stay filled with pleasant memories.
"On the other hand what impressions could we have brought back to the Philippines, if our stay was limited to one or two years ( true for exchange visitors). How many visitors and exchange scholars brought home with them the wrong impressions and attitude towards the American people in general? I knew there were a few foreign students in the dormitories who were disillusioned about the United States. One of them was a former dorm mate from Chile. He received an invitation, but never did conquer his apprehension of accepting one.
" At present as couple leader of the first interfaith group in our diocese, we will do our very best to reciprocate, promote, and encourage hospitality programs to foreign students and scholars in our area. We believe that opening our homes and our hearts on weekends and holidays, is one of the best ways of promoting world peace and understanding. Let us then make it possible for foreign students and scholars get the true picture of America and its people. Let us give them the opportunity to share with us our way of life. Let us get busy as a group or perhaps join other groups in order that we can show to the future leaders of the world, how sincere, friendly and aware we are of other human beings in other parts of the world. This is one of the many ways we could be more Christlike, we believe".
This letter was published by CFM in their monthly magazine, ACT, for all their members worldwide.
I also would like to dedicate this poem to all my readers in this blog.
Thanksgiving Every Day-By Karl Fuchs
The table is brimming with good things to eat;
We're surrounded by family and friends; what a treat.
The feelings that fill us today can’t be beat;
It’s Thanksgiving Day, and it all feels complete.
But other days, sometimes things don’t seem so fine;
Those days are not polished and don’t seem to shine.
It's then in our minds, we forget all the good,
And think of the things we would get, if we could.
On days when our thinking causes us dread,
If we could remember, it’s all in our head,
And not let our minds take our gratitude away,
Then we'd make every day like Thanksgiving Day.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL