The United States has often been depicted as having a unique cultural character able to be described both as a “melting pot” and a “tossed salad.” America is a nation of immigrants with varying cultures, and the melting pot imagery is intended to capture the blending of those cultures to form another that is distinctly American. However, the melting pot imagery is tempered with that of the ‘tossed salad’ wherein despite being mixed, different cultures still retain their individuality. The cultural character of the United States is a blend of those two characterizations, and luckily for international students in Wisconsin, the state is a perfect microcosm of the nation in this regard.
The immigration and cultural diversity in Wisconsin go back as far as when early European settlements were being built alongside those of the long-established Native Americans in the region. The European immigration to what would become Wisconsin occurred in waves that were driven by various industries. From fur traders to miners to bankers and educators, early European settlers streamed into the area and established significant population and cultural centers. More contemporary immigration has seen substantial African-American, Hispanic, and Hmong populations flourish in the state. International students in Wisconsin will feel comfortable amidst the culturally-diverse populations of the state. Moreover, the cultural diversity in Wisconsin ensures that visitors from abroad will often be able to find many of the comforts of home—from their favorite fare to others who speak their native language!
Throughout its history Wisconsin has been a culturally-diverse mix of various peoples, and that legacy is upheld to this day through various cultural initiatives in the state. One such initiative that international students in Wisconsin may be able to take advantage of is the sister-state and sister-city programs in place through Sister-Cities International, an organization dedicated to fostering international connections and providing information and other resources for those traveling/studying abroad. Wisconsin’s sister-state and city relationships are with five different locales; Hessen, Germany; Chiba, Japan; Jalisco, Mexico; Heilongjiang, China; and Nicaragua. International students in Wisconsin that hail from any of these areas may have additional resources at their disposal when studying in the state and, at the very least, will have significant communities there awaiting them with some of the comforts of home! The legacy of cultural diversity in Wisconsin is alive and well, and international students in the state can expect a welcoming atmosphere in which to study!