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This is how it ends

This is how it ends - for me, thus far the complex love for my new home, and this is where our semester ends, with my students and I pausing over the words of Valeria Luiselli - I am glad we ended with this text, full of compassionate rage and dignified hope.

Why did you come to the United States? Perhaps no one knows the real answer. Sometimes I ask myself the same question. I don't have an answer yet. Before coming to the United States, I knew what others know: that the cruelty of its borders was only a thin crust, and that on the other side a possible life was waiting. I understood, some time after, that once you stay here long enough, you begin to remember the place where you originally came from the way a backyard might look from a high window in the deep of winter: a skeleton of the world, a tract of abandonment, objects dead and obsolete. And once you’re here, you’re ready to give everything, or almost everything, to stay and play a part in the great theater of belonging. In the United States, to stay is an end in itself and not a means: to stay is the founding myth of this society. To stay in the United States, you will unlearn the universal metric system so you can buy a pound and a half of cooked ham, accept that thirty-two degrees, and not zero, is where the line falls that divides cold and freezing. You might even begin to celebrate the pilgrims who removed the alien Indians, and the veterans who maybe killed other aliens, and the day of a president who will eventually declare a war on all the other so-called aliens. No matter the cost. No matter the cost of the rent, and milk, and cigarettes. The humiliations, the daily battles. You will give everything. You will convince yourself that it is only a matter of time before you can be yourself again, in America, despite the added layers of its otherness already so well adhered to your skin. But perhaps you will never want to be your former self again. There are too many things that ground you to this new life. Why did you come here? I asked one little girl once. Because I wanted to arrive.” ― Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions


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