I recently read the appalling letter to the editor from Joe Schlechtinger, Hamilton, Ohio.
He had visited his parents in the Valley years ago and this was his first winter to live here as a Winter Texan.
I was disturbed by his narrow and ignorant view of the valley and the people who live here. I’m a winter Texan and have been coming here for 15 years.
We have found the people warm, welcoming and eager to help.
I’m not talking about just the people in our tiny little park world, but across the valley.
Yes, I hear Spanish often, when I first came to the Valley I took a Spanish class and found it helpful. I am amazed at the small children who speak two languages and I struggle to learn enough to help as we traveled into Mexico.
I am a visitor to this community and feel like the community eagerly accepts the Winter Texans, they include us in their festivals, they put up with the crowded stores, parking lots and demands of people from other countries and northern states that invade each winter.
Yes, we bring money to the valley and the residents here benefit by our presence here.
We buy homes, food, vehicles, make repairs, pay for utilities, gas and extras. In return, we enjoy cheaper goods, warmer weather and the wonderful hospitality of the Mexican people.
If Mr.Schlechtinger were to travel to the east coast, west coast or deep south he would find things are different than at home in Ohio.
That is what America is about — a melting pot. We are not all the same, we never have been, in fact the first Americans were likely dark skinned, spoke many dialects and lived close to nature.
We need to remember that being an American is special because we are not all one language, one culture, one religion, one race.
He further states that English should be the language in American cities. I don’t know his heritage, but I’m certain his ancestors came from somewhere other than America and when they first arrived — did not speak English.
Like many early immigrants they eventually learned the language, but found comfort in using their native tongue.
He says he can’t make friends because of the language barrier.
He hasn’t tried very hard because I have found the Mexican people to be very friendly, helpful and willing to talk.
A few do not speak any English, but most are bilingual. We are a border city and that gives us a cultural diversity which makes the Valley unique.
This part of Texas belonged to Mexico when much of the land was homesteaded.
As a Winter Texans and a guest in this community most of us have tried to embrace the local culture and find it a diverse, unique area in which to live.
It is important that the Valley residents know the majority of Winter Texans do not feel as Mr. Schlechtinger does about the local community.
We embrace the cultural differences, volunteer in the communities and have seen big changes in the Valley during the past 10 to 20 years.
We do not limit our interaction with only the people in our parks.
We integrate by shopping, dining out, attending local churches, festivals, golfing and becoming a part of the local communities.
We donate time and money to local charities, we participate in local organizations and we support the community in which we live.
We are Winter Texans and we consider the Valley our home during the winter season.
We understand this is a bilingual community and most of us are accustomed to hearing Spanish spoken, have learned a few words and enjoy the cultural heritage of the Valley and the people who call South Texas home.
Cora Schloetzer Harlingen