The most cosmopolitan city in the world

How does one describe an American?  After reading this short series of articles I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t know, and I’d be willing to put money (a small sum mind you, being a college student is expensive) that most people don’t know either.  If I were to put it succinctly I’d say that an American is whoever feels comfortable in America.  New York City has proven itself to be one of the most amenable places to those hailing from countries both widely and scarcely known.  This environment has given rise to a million different ethnic enclaves each with their own distinct impact on the “feel” of the neighborhood, I use the word “feel” because there really is no one concise way to experience the impact that this myriad groups of people has had since their arrival.  Politics, local practices and, my personal favorite, food has been shaped in neighborhoods due to the demographics of the area   Truly, over the years New York City has become the most cosmopolitan city in the world.

A bit of personal information, I come from a neighborhood nestled in the heart of Nassau county that is 95% white.  While I always knew that New York City was this beautiful melting pot of languages, cultures, and peoples as I soon found out the only true way to grasp this concept is to live here.  Over the course of the day I am exposed to cultures both familiar and foreign as I maneuver the streets of Manhattan.  For example, on the intersection of 97th and 3rd (where I live currently) there’s a mosque and small hole in the wall pizzeria side by side.  Where on Earth would one find such a beautiful melange of cultures besides New York City?  As of yet I have not found a place that measures up.

It’s no wonder people come here in droves from all parts of the world, here they are given the opportunity to establish themselves, feel comfortable with their fellow countrymen and benefit from all the advantages that being an American brings.  Coupled with this, as Vecoli stated, they also are able to retain their cultural identity.  Their retention of who they are has facilitated their alignment among ethnic lines to form communities and lobby for concessions.  Of course, this situation isn’t completely advantageous for foreign transplants as there has been a long history of exclusion with regards to certain ethnic groups.  This exclusion is largely white on black based and has paved the way for black communities, such as Haitians and certain peoples from the Caribbean to rally for their rights.  I’d argue that such a mobilization of people could only happen here, where people are empowered by their heritage.

This city is one of the few places where people from all over the world  can make themselves feel as if they belong.  America was founded on immigrants, the various waves of immigration changing demographics both locally and nationally.

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