Friday, April 15, 2011

The land of homestead dreams…

The land to be discovered by an accident, the land to be settled by strangers, the land to be given for people…

By Parviz Jamalov, foreign exchange student from Tajikistan
Southeast Community College

Once knowing nothing about Nebraska, I have inherited the passion of “Go Big Red” fever and fell in love with hospitability shown by the people of the “Cornhusker State.” But while living in Nebraska I was always wondering about the pride which overflows the spirits of Nebraska people. What is the Homestead Act? How did the people of different ancestries come upon the decision to live in Nebraska? Where are Native Americans?

Parviz Jamalov at the wall of states

These are just some of the many questions which were constantly crossing my mind. As a foreign exchange student who had never before experienced the American culture and traditions firsthand, I considered the Homestead Act as an essential tool for broadening my horizons about American history and culture.

And finally, when the snowy days were marching through Beatrice the splendid chance of learning more about Nebraska was given to me. Seems like even severe and almighty weather showed mercy to me that day as the tender rays of sun were charmingly reflecting from snow which covered the ground like a big white fluffy blanket. While sitting in the car on my way to the Homestead National Monument I felt how my knees were quaking because of accumulating excitement and anticipation.

The Education Center was our first destination. Although much time has passed since that day there is one scene which still stays in my mind. Remember The Fallen wall left a huge emotional impact in my heart. The pictures of young soldiers whose lives were cut too early evoked sadness in my soul. But I believe that glory and honor they deserved will elevate their names to eternity.
After visiting the Education Center, we headed to the Heritage Center. Truly, I was conquered by it from first sight. The unique shape of the building captured my attention and I couldn’t wait to get inside. Now I was there, in the place of knowledge, history and heritage.

First of all we watched the movie about the Homestead Act. I was told that this movie is triumphant and seized an Award. And as I proceeded watching it, I was convinced in the genuine high quality of this movie. Not only did it become a perfect study tool for me but also it gave a real vigorous picture of the American history. Accompanied by tremendous visual and sound effects the movie maintains a dramatic and intense atmosphere though it solely reflects true historical events. Now the history of the Homestead Act was clear for me.

But how did the first homesteaders live? What farming techniques did they use while conquering severe nature? Answers for these and many other questions were revealed in the Museum of the Heritage Center.

First of all, I could read the actual Homestead Act signed by Abraham Lincoln. Then the history began to show its detail as I was watching many tools, constructions, and inventions which were used by the Homesteaders. Admirably, many of them staggered my mind and persuaded me that human abilities are truly unlimited.

The most exciting part of the exhibition was the reconstruction of the actual homestead house[Palmer-Epard Cabin]. When I stepped inside it I thought I felt the smell of history because the interior appearance of the house was just like the ones which I saw in the movie or on the pictures. For a moment I believed that I was in the past. The house looked so humble and orderly that I thought that its residents have just left and will be back soon.

Another remarkable recollection which dwells in my mind was the sample of school tools used by the students of homestead days and nowadays students. It was a splendid comparison of two different centuries that gave me another chance to understand the lifestyle of the Homesteaders. Unfortunately due to weather conditions I couldn’t walk to the actual Homestead land, however, I sincerely hope to visit the Homestead National Monument of America again during the spring.

So what did the visit to the Homestead Monument give me? What did I learn when I spent some time there? The answer is obvious – I was astounded by the People of America again. Once being nothing but the land of wind and sand, today the area which was given to homesteaders thrives providing food and water for a whole nation. Whereas in my county where 67% of the population is involved in agriculture, the abundant fertile land was passed to us by our predecessors, who had been resiliently working for many centuries. The agriculture and farming came to Central Asia in during the Stone Age and had been gradually developing raising the exuberance and bountifulness of arable lands. Those lands were feeding the various empires including Macedonian, Mongolian, Turk and Russian ones.

But the land which was accidentally discovered by Christopher Columbus was pristine and untouched and saw nothing but periodical movements of Indian tribes. This land became the promise of paradise for thousands of people from different continents who were in desperate search for better life. Forced by economic instability and dreadful wars, the people came to the New World placing their lives for the sake of hope. Once they got official permission, the homesteaders faced the greatest challenge – the challenge of survival. The land which seemed a dream before greeted them with a harsh severity. Tornadoes, storms, famine and hordes of grasshoppers couldn’t break the soul of the people who persistently fought for the bright future. And today this land has become the most powerful and prosperous in the world.

It was the land of dream…The dream which became reality…The dream which elevated the nation…The dream which is called America.

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