• Leigh Gerstenberger

The Melting Pot at Work



While I never thought living in western Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio qualified me as “living in a bubble”, I was reminded recently that I’ve been truly sheltered from a growing force in American society.  The movement I’m referring to is how diverse the United States is becoming.


This fact was driven into my subconscious recently by a totally unexpected experience.  While travelling a few weeks ago with my wife to Dallas, TX for what was intended to be a “get away weekend” she became ill and had to be admitted to Medical City – Dallas, one of the community’s premier medical institutions.


Thankfully after four nights in the hospital, she was well on her way to recovering and we were able to return home to Pittsburgh. She received wonderful care and treatment from all the Medical City staff, but what particularly struck me was the diverse nature of nationalities represented by her caregivers.


By my count the physicians, nurses, technicians, housekeeping and dietary staff who cared for her over those four days hailed from Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, China, Liberia, Jamaica, Afghanistan, Russia and Mexico. There were also a few natural born U.S. citizens, but they were in the minority.


Regardless of whether her caregivers had immigrated to the U.S. recently or had been in our country for years they displayed two common qualities.  


First, they were all extremely loyal Dallas Cowboy fans, a point that was made each time one of them learned that we were from Pittsburgh.


Second, to the person, each of them shared that their motivation for coming to the United States was driven by their desire for better opportunities for themselves and their children.


While I assiduously try to avoid making political statements in this space, my experience in Dallas caused me to reflect on the larger discussion taking place in our country regarding immigration.  


Here’s what I observed.


My wife’s caregivers were highly trained, extremely skillful in their chosen professions and were caring and compassionate in all of their interactions with my wife.  As such, they represented not just what is the best of our American way of life, but the best of what the human race has to offer one another.


While no one wants to be in a hospital with a loved one a thousand miles from home, I for one am grateful for the insight that I gained into the transformation that’s taking place in our country as a result of this experience.

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