NPR logo Is this Spokane--or the Serengeti?

Is this Spokane—or the Serengeti?

My local hosts were driving me to the airport in Spokane on Wednesday (where our member station, KPBX, has a large and devoted fan base), when I saw a woman wearing a beautiful golden African robe walking gracefully down a the side of a highway, holding the hand of a child, and balancing a large green jug of laundry detergent on her head—as I have seen so many women do in villages, towns, and great cities all over Africa.

I had a plane to catch, so we did not stop. I do not know the woman's name or story. But in the course of just 24 hours in Spokane, during which I only went from my hotel to several events, I met people who are now living and working in Spokane who had moved there from Ethiopia, Korea, Colombia and Mexico.

Spokane, a handsome and civilized city, is not a border town like San Diego, a port city like Seattle, or a commercial crossroads like Chicago. And yet, like so many other medium-sized Americans cities, it has become internationalized.

Seeing that woman reminded me of something I never tire of observing as I am fortunate enough to make appearances in support of our local stations. The diversity of America is deep and amazing. It now reaches into all states, all kinds of places, large and small communities, from Washington State to the Florida Keys. The faces of America come from all over the world.