03 January 2013


Last night during the PBS Newshour, Ray Suarez interviewed journalist Claudia Kolker, author of a new book titled The Immigrant Advantage, which challenges readers to think about what they might learn from immigrants.  Kolker's research approach was simple ~ asking legal immigrants the question "What's the smartest thing that people did in your home country that you want to hang on to while you're here, and the rest of us ought to copy?"

The responses she received often centered on "the very practical day-to-day skills of living ~ childbirth, dating, courting, pooling money instead of going to banks, inter-generational living arrangements .... These are some of the practices that made the United States what it is and that we have forgotten, and really forgotten fairly recently."

Here is the seven-minute interview on video, as well as a transcript.  Also on the Newshour website, here is Kolker's summary of the top seven things Americans can learn from immigrants.  They include ~

  • How to save
  • How to mother a mother
  • How to eat
  • How to learn
  • How to court
  • How to be a good neighbor
  • How to shelter
(Claudia Kolker was a freelance reporter in El Salvador from 1992-1995, where she covered the Salvadoran postwar recovery as well as social issues throughout Central America, Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.)

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