Home is where your heart rests


Last weekend Seymour held the once-a-year Oktoberfest. Every time of this year I was awed at thousands of people emerged from nowhere all of sudden.

The downtown used to be quiet is now fully packed with people and food stands, domed by aroma of German sausages, pretzels and Pork Schnitzel as well as German lagers. A small town of 20,000 people grows five times bigger during these three days.

Among the crowds, there is a gentleman of eighty something. He (Dr. Kenneth Bobb) proudly showed me the costumes he wore: The hat, the lederhosen with attached suspenders, shirt and knee socks. I was touched by seeing his effort to put on his outfit for this special day. He was born in the U.S. but his grandparents were German immigrants of many years ago.

When I first heard of Oktoberfest, I thought it is just a food festival for a small town. After a couple of years, I learned it rooted back to Munich Beer Festival in Germany. Wherever in the world there are German descendants inhabit together, there are Oktoberfest. There are 25 percent German descendants in Indiana, that’s why we have Oktoberfest in Seymour.

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As a Chinese immigrant, in every city I lived in the U.S., I could find Chinese grocery stores, restaurants, newspapers and Chinese schools. The school is open on Sunday afternoon. Parents often have to force their unwilling kids to study Chinese.

I thought this was only the stubborn traits of Chinese. But when I chatted with my Japanese stylist, I found things are surprisingly identical: There are Japanese schools on Sundays with the pushy parents and resentful kids who are whining over the playing time they lost on difficult Japanese textbooks.

In San Francisco, I came across the Japan Town. Not only they have restaurants, groceries, pagodas, but also a huge bookstore called Kinokuniya. Nowadays it is not a friendly time for printed books, let alone to maintain a large bookstore with books and magazines 100 percent in Japanese in the expensive San Francisco. Once again I was touched by how fervent the Japanese immigrants are to carry on their cultural heritage. I found it’s more or less the same for Indians, Mexicans and other nationalities living in the U.S.

It adds perks to routine local life and expands your horizons without travel far. Like Oktoberfest, once a year, it brought the joys of three days to our small town Seymour and a legend lasting a lot longer.

There is a Chinese saying: Home is where your heart rests. Immigrants traveled a long way before they settled and rested, but their appetite for food, music, language and childhood memories will haunt their dreams about their hometowns for the rest of their lives. It will be passed on, generation after generation.

Immigrants have not only brought exotic food but also the essence of different cultures and talents from other parts of the world. This is a privilege for the United States as she was created by immigrants. Being open minded, receiving and embracing difference is the character of the U.S., and that is what made this country great.

Song Li is a local resident and a member of Seymour Toastmasters Club.

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