In France we have
a saying, "c'est la vie". My experience in
California-Los Angeles was eye opening to say the least.
My host family, the Rodriguezes, were hard working people
who did their work and benefitted the US economy. We
don't have such dedicated workers in France. Neither
in Antarctica, for that matter. I was their second student
from Europe, and they provided a 'real world' education,
to use Juan's term. I even went to work with my host
parents, and believe me, it was real work. Honest work.
Well, it just happened that illegal immigration was
a big issue at the time, and in the political media.
Many marches took place all over the country, including
in my area, protesting a proposed US law to tighten border controls on the US side.
I marched with the illegal alien supporters, because
without my French passport and UANT / UCLA student cards,
I too could be considered an 'illegal' alien by the
'American' authorities. After seeing the issue from
many perspectives, my eyes were opened to the real situation.
Juan showed me a map illustrating the goal of the reconquista, and the
new borders. I was fascinated by this idea and agreed to help in the cause (which
I can- when
I become a politician, hopefully at the EU level). After
all, bringing the Americas into an ever closer union
is a good idea, too.
Ironically, I had a weeklong internship
with the customs brigade, and we made a huge 'bust'
on my last day. I felt good about it, in some respects,
but also kind
of bad- I found out later some of the people we arrested
that night were my host family's relatives, who were
coming in looking for a jobs. This made things uncomfortable
at home for me, and I had to move to an apartment for
my last few weeks.
I recommend to UANT students to come to Los Angeles,
but to pick your host family carefully, because the
one you get will have a huge, maybe decisive, impact
on what you will believe in and fight for politically.
How you are shaped on your study abroad trip will determine
who you are when it is all said and done with. Good