We grow by reaching up and out: New Jersey tree that has seen infusions of many immigrants to create a wonderfully diverse state / April 2007
Post Office in New Jersey, April 2007: A Hispanic couple with a young son are waiting in the post office by the table with all the forms. A post office worker, an Asian woman, comes out from the back and asks the couple if they are waiting to apply for a passport. They approach the front counter. The Asian woman speaks in Chinese-accented English. The Hispanic couple speak in a combination of Spanish and broken English. They communicate as best they can, exchanging papers and information. The passport is for the little boy. His father carries him to another part of the building to get his picture taken. The boy runs back into the room without his coat. He is wearing a crisp white shirt, dark vest, blue jeans and a leather belt, polished black shoes. He looks like a million bucks. The post office worker tells the boy's mother that he smiled for the picture. They continue to try and get all the paperwork sorted out. I took several years of Spanish in school and am ashamed that I can't step in and help. [If the genie came and offered me a wish, I'd wish that I could speak at least seven languages; imagine the richness of the world that would be available to you if you could easily communicate with so many people.] I have been entranced by the scene before me as I mail my letters to relatives halfway around the world in Croatia. Suddenly I tune in to the song playing over the post office loudspeaker: New Jersey native, Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA.
"... New Jersey is an extraordinary place produced by sustained infusions of new populations from abroad."
~ James W. Hughes (Dean, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)