Outside of the Marshall Islands, the second biggest population of the Marshallese people is right in Springdale, Arkansas. Compared to the pacific islands’ population of 60,000, Springdale houses nearly 6,500 and Hawaii around 7,400. Major push factors along with many pull factors influenced their immigration into Springdale. According to the Washington Post, the United States military tested nuclear weapons from 1946-1958, and, “If their combined explosive power was parceled evenly over that 12-year period, it would equal 1.6 Hiroshima-size explosions per day.” Paired with 12 years worth of damage, Springdale’s countless opportunities and benefits for the Marshallese influenced many to immigrate in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They viewed America as a place of refuge where they could live safely as well as be seen as equal and treated fairly. These enumerated beliefs are what gives America its sense of unity, they are attributes this nation strives to obtain, they are parts of the American Creed. However, different ethnicities within America, including the Marshallese, understand and view the American Creed differently based on their own, unique backgrounds. So, since America is a melting pot of many cultures, it is crucial that each and every citizen understands the different perspectives of the American Creed.
First interviewed was Richard L. of Springdale on October 31, 2019. He is Marshallese and currently the Program Manager at the Marshallese Educational Initiative in Springdale, and he works on helping to provide education to those in his community. In response to the interview question, “What is your understanding of the American Creed?” Mr. L. said, “America is unique compared to the Marshall islands. I would say first is education and that's what we all come here for. Education and job opportunities. Compared to the Marshall Islands, [in the] Marshall Islands we don’t have so many jobs, good pay, and not so much … like … more opportunities are here in the U.S.” From this standpoint, L. views educational values and job opportunities as apart of the American identity. The American Creed is a set of beliefs that we as Americans hold close to us, in turn, establishing our strong national identity. In his perspective, education and job opportunities are unifying and unique parts of the american society, so therefore, they are aspects of his American Creed. Knowing and experiencing the Marshall Islands first hand fostered a different viewpoint on the United States for Richard, and it created his own understanding of the American Creed, one which encompasses educational values and job opportunities.
Next, I interviewed his boss, Carlnis J., who is also Marshallese and the Program Director at the Marshallese Educational Initiative in Springdale. Just like Richard, Carlnis helps to provide education to those in her community, notably the Marshallese. As expected, Mrs. J’s response to the interview question, “What is your understanding of the American Creed?” was very similar to Richard’s since they come from similar work environments. She replied, “I think Education. It’s very different from the Islands to here.” Seeing as how both Carlnis and Richard emphasize education and educational opportunity as much as they did as an aspect of American society, we can recognize that education is very important in their American Creeds. Because the two interviewees are a different ethnicity than the Caucasian American, they have different understandings of the American Creed, and thus, see education as well as the plentiful job opportunities that the United States has to offer as a part of the unifying American Creed.
Finally, I interviewed María G., a member of the Fayetteville community. María is Hispanic and has her own, individual views on the American Creed. In response to the question, “What is you understanding of the American Creed?” she replied, “I think it is the best opportunities for the job and for the safer families here, especially compared to Mexico and South america.[Mexican immigrants come here] looking for the opportunities, for the jobs, for family safety. ” This shows that she views the American Creed as one that encompasses the relative safety in the United States and also the many job opportunities here, especially for minorities. She beliefs these two aspects strengthen our national identity and help unify us as a nation. Therefore, Mrs. G. understands that the American Creed also covers job opportunities, and a safe environment for all.
From these three interviews, it is clear that different ethnicities within America understand the American Creed differently based on their backgrounds. Whether you are Marshallese, Hispanic, or American, we all have our own understandings of the American Creed and interpret it differently. The United States is a very diverse country and is increasingly becoming more diverse through immigration and other pathways, so for everyone living in America now, it is important that we all recognize that the different nationalities and ethnicities making up our country view America’s set of beliefs very differently, stemming from all our unique backgrounds and cultural experiences.
- Zak, Dan. “A Ground Zero Forgotten.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 27 November, 2015.
- L, Richard. Personal interview. 31 October, 2019.
- J, Carlnis. Personal interview. 31 October, 2019.
- G, María. Personal interview. 31 October, 2019.