Teachers of foreign languages and high school guidance counsellors often hear students say, “Why take French—nobody speaks it”, or “French isn’t spoken in America except in school, so why should I learn it?” This all too common attitude is the outgrowth of a philosophy that education need only be practical and not enriching. It is also indicative of a growing provincialism among today’s youth.
We, in America, cannot afford to become too isolated from other cultures, or too insulated in our own neighborhoods. True progress into the twenty-first century will require understanding of the languages, cultures and problems of a variety of other peoples.
The goal of this unit is to foster understanding of a small, but significant portion of our population; a people whose language, culture and politics have made them victims on two shores. It is important that students understand and be able to analyze the plight of these latest refugees because America’s treatment of the most downtrodden is a reflection of current American values and ideals. It is for our students, the future policy makers of the country, to determine what America will mean in the future of the world.