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  • Blame the meat packing plant. Credit the meat packing plant. A war erupts tearing your country apart. Families which once intermixed now forced to choose sides or get out. The United States opened up the gates. You came in. A cousin in this state. A brother in that. You find your way into areas like St. Louis...and Waterloo, Iowa. You were contractors, engineers and doctors in your own country. Now you took jobs cleaning bones, slicing meat and in the kill plant. At least until you could master the language and maybe return to your chosen vocation. And so we took off our shoes at your doorstep, and we ate your spiced meats and drank up the thick, murky mud you called coffee, and entered the nicotine haze of your apartments and broke down the cultural barriers and taught you our words in exchange for educating us about your wars and your customs. We welcomed your bakeries and your bars. Bars where one felt like a foreigner in their own country. Five miles from cornfields and I'm in a room where all speak Croatian. The paintings on the wall are by my friend the artist with a Bosnian Father and Croatian Mother. He rose to fame as a break dancer while living as a refugee in Germany. In Iowa he has risen to fame as an aerosal artists (and now a chef). Those are his paintings on the wall. We sipped espresso and drank Bosnian beer at this Oasis, while the patrons broke into a chorus of whatever song that was on the jukebox. Glad I experienced this moment. This Oasis. Where life was not as it seemed. They were not meat packers at all. They were young men and women searching for identity. And for a moment. There identity was discovered. At this...Oasis.
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