Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Learning more about Gringolandia

My husband has finally begun the naturalization process.  The government has dutifully cashed our check, and he had his first appointment scheduled for Monday, which Sandy the Frankenstorm ungratefully canceled.  Left wondering what would drive the media to say "frankenstorm" over and over again and with three days off of school, I was hoping to see him study a little.  No luck.  Will the citizenship test actually require him to know how many amendments are in the Constitution?  At dinner with a group of highly educated individuals on Saturday, all of which work or have worked for the state of Maryland and one of which had been a history teacher in the past, no one knew for sure.  24 was what we settled on.  Turns out to be 27.

USCIS nicely provides study guides and sample test questions. As a teacher, it drives me crazy to see that he's not studying, especially since I don't think I could get all of the questions correct either.  And this is after helping with 8th grade social studies this year, where they have to know all of the principles of the Constitution and what historic philosophers and documents these are based on. 

Over the past couple of years, I've convinced my husband to visit various places of historic significance and see more of "Gringolandia."  So many times we're content to stay in the "known" places that feel more Latino - El Salvador than anything else (southeast Baltimore, Silver Spring, etc.). We've gone to DC more times than I can count, to Annapolis, Gettysburg, Antietam, Harper's Ferry, and various other places around Baltimore, which in itself is a living monument.  Not sure how much of it has stuck for my husband, but I've definitely learned a lot about my own country. 

Lincoln look-alike (see more @
On our visit to see the tall ships in the Inner Harbor. Husband remember the ships, but couldn't remember that the national anthem is the Star-Spangled Banner and that it was written in Baltimore. 
 For example, I had no idea that I had (possible) relatives that fought in the war of 1812.  I had jury duty for a week this fall, and one day as I was sitting outside the courthouse eating lunch, I noticed the name Lowry on the Battle Monument (also the first monument in the United States?).  James Lowry Donaldson, died at the Battle of North Point (where my husband goes to fish for slimy catfish during the summer). He had changed his legal last name to Donaldson to inherit an estate left in that name, but was originally a Lowry from Ireland. Although I knew that there were other related Lowrys in Maryland, especially in the western part closer to West Virginia, I was struck by how little I knew about these families.  Time to copy the entire family tree binder at Thanksgiving, I think. 

Visiting Gettysburg made me go back and re-read "The Killer Angels," which I hadn't even thought of in years.  All of the Baltimore celebrations made me want to learn more about where I'm living, and appreciate it more than I did in the first couple of years. As for my husband and the citizenship test, guess we'll find out soon enough!