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The Other Side of America




My initial experience of America is far from most people think it is.

While most Filipinos who reach America for the first time are drowned in flash with the popular views of Lower Manhattan, the Golden Gate, and the huge memorial stone and numerous museums at Washington, DC, I was deployed in a far-flung sleeping part of Conway, North Carolina. I even bet if you could locate Conway via Google Earth. LOL! What I am sure of is that GPS navigator, a satellite-based road assistant, does not recognize my address. LOL!

The greatest consolation I have, however, is that I lived in a place (I recently moved out from Conway) with virtually zero crime. It is a small community where 'everyone knows everyone else.' The streets of North Carolina are one of the 'kindest' of the places I have reached so far. It is where you see pedestrians and motorists waving their hands to one another. It is also where you see drivers giving way even to a pedestrian who walks farthest from an intersection.

NC is dominated by African-Americans. The great leaders of its institutions are primarily coming from this group, from the police officers to county schools superintendents.

One common scenario at NC is the presence of cemetery in every corner. Where you see a church, there is always a cemetery adjacent to it. Baptist churches are also a commonplace. In my first few weeks, I hardly found my own church!

While Philippines is famous for bystanders taking turns to drink an alcoholic beverage, the street drinkers of NC are hiding their bottles from police authorities most of the time. It is common to see people carrying bottles wrapped in paper bags. And they don't use shot glasses, too! LOL!




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