“Good morning,” began the young lady in the uniform with a smile. “Welcome to Earth, sometimes referred to as the planet Terra. My name is Kathryn and I will be helping you through your assimilation process over the next few days. The intent of the Immigration Department is to ensure that your stay on Earth is as pleasant and productive as possible.
“Everyone, please have a seat, or arrange your body in whatever manner is most comfortable. We have chairs, cushions, slings, various sizes of buckets and other containers, several gha^k#s as well as other furniture, which my human body cannot pronounce, for your use. Is everyone set? Oh, dear, one of our Geldorean guests has unfortunately settled into a bucket which seems to have sprung a leak. Can someone please pour him into a more comfortable container? Good. Thank you so much.
“Earth is the home planet of humans, also known by their scientific name of “homo sapiens.” As a species we are naturally curious and ambitious. As such, it is our nature to explore and conquer, first this planet, then out into space. Space exploration was a turning point for humankind because instead of conquering one another, we found that the conquering of space took as much effort and was more fulfilling psychologically and economically.
“Our first successful off planet excursion was to our own moon. Eventually, humans began colonizing our moon by digging into it which combined both mineral mining with developing a safe and sustainable environment. The “Moonies” have always taken pride in being first, which is why they are so passionate about their professional football team, the “Green Cheese.”
“Mining led to trading and soon after discovering other intelligent life forms, Earthers sought ways to trade our goods for theirs. Many of you and your species had their first contact with Earth humans when they arrived on your planet as traders.
“With the success of space travel, many Earth organizations first opened sales offices on other planets and later opened manufacturing facilities. At first there was a lot of concern about manufacturing jobs being sent to other planets, but soon many from Earth realized that they could be more successful out there than they ever could be here on Earth. This caused many humans to leave Earth to seek opportunities on other planets, or in some cases in the interstellar travel industry. We have some humans who have not set foot on any planet for many years.”
“So humans do not expand by conquest?” asked one of the Krallik.
“By armed conflict, no,” answered Kathryn. “However, as the Zyrillian philosopher Brek’qix so astutely stated, ‘What the Field Marshall cannot take by war, the Captains of Industry will take by trade.’” There was a rumble of agreement from the new arrivals.
“Shall we continue?” asked Kathryn. She was met with nods and other cultural gyrations of assent.
“If you were here as tourists,” she continued, “You would not be receiving this in-depth information. Tourists come and see the pyramids, the Great Wall of China, take a swim in the warm waters of the Arctic Ocean, hunt a cloned lion and two days later they go home. They stay pretty much on the tourist trails. All of you, on the other hand, are here long term. Some have come to study at our universities, others have decided to immigrate and make this your home. It is my personal goal as well as the goal of the Immigration Department that you succeed.
“Earth has traditionally organized itself in various ways. Some would see this as separating one group of people from another. Others see it as bringing individual humans together. Your particular view depends upon whether you see the glass as half full or half empty.
“The most basic grouping is family. Most of you have similar structure. Among humans, unless you use scientific intervention it takes two people to biologically produce offspring. In an ideal situation the two adult parents and their children stay grouped as a family until the children are physically mature and educated, after which they leave the family home, while retaining emotional ties to it. Many grown children then go on to seek partners and begin families of their own. The extended family including the parents’ sisters and brothers and their families, grandparents and so on may be considered more or less as a tribe.
“Another grouping is according to theological or philosophical values. Humans often identify themselves as members of a particular belief system. Some who do so assemble with others of that same belief system on a periodic basis, as frequently as several times a week, commonly on a weekly basis and in some cases at one or two major holidays each year.
“Perhaps the most significant group on a large scale are geopolitical entities. People combine their requirements and provide for them through political units. The most localized is often a town or city. The largest is a nation. The nation through which you enter Earth is called the United States of America.”
“SCReeeeee!” came from the crowd and a split second later the translator converted it. “Why does this United States act as an entry point?”
“That’s an interesting piece of history,” replied Kathryn. “Many countries consisted of people whose families or tribes had lived in a certain place for many hundreds or even thousands of years. People from outside those tribes were viewed with suspicion and not welcomed. The United States, or U.S. as it is often called, was populated by virtue of accepting immigrants from all parts of Earth. This ‘melting pot’ effect brought a unique blend of cultures together that in turn resulted in a unique new culture. Since people of different colors and with different languages, beliefs and customs eventually learned how to live and work together, it seemed logical to use the U.S. as the entry point for immigrants who came from off planet.
“Most of you intend on becoming U.S. citizens. Even if that is not your intent, in order to be accepted it’s best to learn the social norms. If you look different you will eventually be accepted. If you don’t act like most others, you will most likely be excluded and your experience will not be as pleasant.
“First, the language used here in the U.S. is English. Some of you may know this language as ‘Terra Standard.’ It is expected that you will communicate in English. If you have children, they will pick it up far more quickly than you. If you have your children speak English at home, it will help you learn both the language as well as understand the culture more easily.”
“Yes I understand that the Holfren are not physiologically able to pronounce many English words. That is why you were required to obtain an approved translatifier prior to leaving Holf. The translatifier will render all your spoken thoughts in English. Humans find it uncomfortable for people to be having a conversation in a different language in their presence. In this way, you’ll fit in better.” She looked around the room. A smell somewhere between cooking cabbage and laundry soap filled the air. Kathryn, being fluent in the pheromone based language of the Skinxz, answered with a smile.
“Someone always asks that. Yes, many Americans use foul language. No, it is not necessary for you to learn to cuss. As a matter of fact, it is considered more prestigious to communicate without swearing.
“Now I know you’ve all had a long trip and all, so let’s call it a day. Those headed on to your colleges and universities will continue your assimilation training there. Good luck and remember that partying in college is normal, but don’t let it interfere with your studies. Hell hath no fury like a parent whose child fails freshman courses!
“As for the rest of you, tomorrow we’ll start evening citizenship classes. The day will come, and not so far in the future, when you will be able to raise your hand, tentacle or other body part, take the oath and then say with pride, ‘I too am an American!’”