"The biggest change that my students are experiencing, who are from rural areas, has been immigration. That's the biggest thing. And, they don't talk about it that much. But it definitely has had an influence on what happens in their communities. I teach genetics so we don't get into those kinds of topics very often, but I do talk about population genetics and inherent genetic differences between different groups of people. But it's difficult for them to talk about their own experiences in that. But I think in Nebraska with our meat packing industry that's a big important part of agriculture here, and the fact that a lot of those jobs are jobs taken by immigrants, that has a huge influence on our rural and small community folks."
[Question:] "What you're talking about is that it's introducing racial diversity where there hasn't been in the past."
"Not for a while. One thing I remember, my mother is Dutch and my father is Norwegian. And when they got married that was a pretty significant thing, that a Dutch gal was marrying a Norwegian guy. Even those communities were just down the road from each other, they had a certain degree in which they stayed separated. It took a while for us to blend. There's probably more differences with Hispanic folks, but I think the blending will happen and we'll learn how to adapt to it. That's kind of what the nature of this country is new people coming in and becoming a part of the American story."
[Question:] "I'm hearing you say that your kids aren't comfortable talking about the influx, or the immigration and the racial differences. Do you hear racist comments from them?"
"No. I never personally hear them make racial comments. They would rather not say anything. Now, how they might interact with people they're more comfortable with might be very different. What I do sense is there is tension. And anytime people are asked to change, it's tough. I think there's a natural fear of the unknown that everybody has. So, if somebody is not the same as you in their language or in their appearance, you have to adapt to that. You have to get used to it. So, I think they've done a pretty good job of adapting, but it takes time
"My wife in the public schools is an educator. Learning English is one of the most doable challenges they deal with. Those kids pick up English. They pick it up right away. There's a lot of other learning issues that are much more challenging that she encounters. Oh, behavioral issues. And that has nothing to do with being an immigrant or not. A lot of it depends on the kind of family they come from."