The USA Melting Pot club was introduced by Dale Murrish and Weilou Gao at the Troy City Council meeting May 7. Several GM people have been planning this since last September. Marcus Chen is handling our website and lives in Ann Arbor; Jeremy Demarest also works on crankshafts in our advanced group, and Bryce Koizumi was a coop in our group last summer.

Troy is the second most diverse city in Michigan after Ann Arbor. Many enjoy their own ethnic groups but don’t mingle with other groups. Over half of our analysis group of sixty at GM Powertrain is foreign born. We like learning about each other’s culture, languages, food and customs. Many of us live in Troy & Rochester Hills.

We incorporated the club last October; its purposes are:

  • To help newcomers assimilate into the USA
  • To celebrate ethnic background & cultural identity
  • To have a forum for conversational English
  • To encourage face to face dialogue in our increasingly technology-dependent world.

No more “text me when it’s time for dinner, Mom.”

The New Melting Pot vs. Multi-culturalism

The original melting pot idea was to learn American culture and become homogeneous, deliberately losing your ethnic identity. The most common view these days is multi-culturalism, which celebrates ethnic identity to the extreme, sort of a salad bowl metaphor. We reject the original melting pot concept and favor a newer middle ground philosophy: assimilate AND celebrate your ethnic heritage. We’re Americans first and treat everyone the same regardless of where they’re from or whether their ancestors came on the Mayflower, a slave ship, through Ellis Island or whether they came on an airplane.

While multi-culturalism focuses on our differences and builds walls between people groups, we emphasize common ground and focus on building and crossing bridges.

Melting Pot club meeting format

The first hour will be speakers talking about ethnic culture, hobbies and outdoor activities, American history, government or travel. We had planned to do twenty minutes of singing to learn patriotic or folk songs. Music is an easy way to learn language and pronunciation. The library has asked us not to do music at first, so we’ll read poems instead.

Then an hour of Table Time: face to face conversation is a good way to improve English and pick up a Michigan accent. I didn’t realize we haaad an aaaccent until recently. Our harsh pronunciation of the short a in apple is noticeable to people from the East Coast. And of course we say pop instead of soda.

First Meeting Thursday, May 31, 7-9 p.m., Troy Public Library

Weilou Gao and Fanghui Shi will speak on Chinese history and culture and the contributions of Chinese immigrants to America. Veteran bicyclist Bill Hughes will talk about the basics of bicycling. He’s been on the Pedal Across Lower Michigan bicycle tour several times. Bob Paull goes every year on a similar week-long tour, only it’s on Rails to Trails instead of public roads.

June 28 and July (date TBD) will feature two other ethnic groups with large Troy populations (Indian and Korean) and two popular summer activities (canoeing and camping). August will be German culture and soccer.

Table Time: Conversation and Activity Planning

This year we’re planning a pot-luck picnic at the Troy Historic Village and we’ll walk in the Fourth of July parade in Clawson. We’ll pick a day to go canoeing at Proud Lake in Milford and people who want to can train for an organized bike ride this summer.

Next year we hope to do a three day bike tour from Lansing to Hamtramck with camping at Proud Lake. The Pontiac FIRST Robotics team is designing a 4-child bike trailer to look like a replica of a Curved Dash Olds for the tour. We plan to walk in the Clawson parade again with a tandem bike towing the CDO replica trailer.

Melting Pot Tour Purpose

We want to have a fun way for people to learn about history, geography and travel. Like the FIRST robotics competitions, we want to bring people of diverse backgrounds together to work on a common goal. We also want to start a common sense conversation about energy & transportation policy and encourage exercise & healthy lifestyles 

Travel spreadsheet

Weilou Gao, who has lived in Troy since 2004 and became a citizen in 2010, has been collecting the top ten or fifteen phrases in different languages. So far we have at least ten. You can download a copy of the spreadsheet from our website. If you speak a language we don’t have yet, feel free to fill out the words in your language and email us back a copy.

We’ll post updated spreadsheets periodically so people can have as many languages as possible. It really breaks the ice if you know a few important phrases, like “Excuse me, do you speak English?,” yes, no, etc. And of course the most important phrase in any language is “thank you.”

Weilou said with more foreign-born residents and young people with different ethnic backgrounds, engaging newcomers helps enrich our community. Our city is experiencing division on a variety of issues, which is created because people don’t know or misunderstand each other. As new blood to the city, he believes we all want the same better things for our town, just have different ideas about how to accomplish them 

Neutral Point of View

Mostly we’ll be talking about culture, food, languages, travel and sports. Controversial issues may be discussed in some cases. People will be encouraged to disagree without being disagreeable.  All perspectives are welcome, but must be presented in a way acceptable to all points of view. We’re not out to rewrite history; we want to tell the truth. Where there are different views, they will be acknowledged and treated in an evenhanded manner 

Calling all young people age 9*-99
USA Melting Pot Wants You!!

  • Monthly 2 hour meetings – an hour of ethnic, hobby and outdoor activity presentations & singing followed by Table Time to promote conversational English
  • First meeting May 31, 2012, 7-9 p.m.
  • Chinese culture & bicycling
  • Meeting Room, Troy Public Library, 510 West Big Beaver Road, Troy, Michigan 48084
  • For more information, visit www.USAmeltingpot.org or contact Weilou Gao at weilou.gao@gmail.com or 248-978-7904

*No child care is provided, but younger kids are encouraged to come with their parents or grandparent 

Conclusion

The presentation was well received; Mayor Pro-tem McGinnis plans to read the Wreckers or Builders poem at our May 31 meeting, and Mayor Daniels plans to attend. Several others commented favorably, including Loraine Campbell, who invited us to have our potluck picnic at the Troy Historic Village instead of a local park as we had planned. 

Everyone is invited to join the conversation at our meetings. Each month we’ll post the presentations on our website for those who live elsewhere or who can’t make it to the meeting.

See http://troy.patch.com/blog_posts/introducing-usa-melting-pot for pictures of Dale and Weilou at the Troy City Council meeting with Mayor Daniels and Mayor Pro-tem McGinnis and a planning meeting at GMPT where a calendar sent by Paul Jennings of Ardee, Ireland was discussed. The club is considering producing a similar calendar with March as an Irish theme.