This is the Sixth in a series of Guest Posts written by Jianping (Corey) Yang. You can read an introduction to these posts HERE.

My opinion is that difference makes progress. I want to exemplify this view by talking about Anna’s presence in this Navajo community, which I think is beneficial to both the community and herself. First of all, the fact that Anna is enrolled as a student at the local Elementary School helps create the atmosphere of diversity. Anna is one of the few people in the school who are not Navajo. She certainly stands out among others, but I am sure Anna and the other children can learn a lot from each other through participating in classroom activities, hanging out when going to church, etc.

The other students will learn that an outsider is both similar to and different from them. Since Anna is an outsider she certainly brings something different to the school, such as the way of speaking and acting. This will open the mind of the students and provoke their curiosity. The fact that Anna is one of them can help the students understand that there may not be strict boundaries among people of different backgrounds. In the future, when they move to different locations, their experience of having an Anglo school friend will be helpful for their adaptation.

I wonder what Anna’s exposure to Navajo culture at such a young age means for her future. She has learned some of the Navajo language. Her pronunciation sounds very natural to me. We all know that children acquire a language more easily than adults. If she keeps learning, she will likely become fluent. A second language will definitely improve her cognition. More importantly, her experience with Navajo people shapes her interests. As she told me, she was interested in linguistics. Also, being among Navajo people who are good at arts, she probably has developed some ability in arts. Her drawings are simple, yet definitely artistic. Or will Anna choose a social science major related to American Indians for her career?

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