Using Sports To Make A Global Connection

Friday night (9/4) the U.S. men’s soccer (football) team played the Peruvian national team in a friendly match in Washington, DC. It was an exciting and fun game. (Yes, I was there.)

The total number of folks at the game came out to just a bit more than 28,000. From just looking at the crowd, about half were supporting Peru.

And that got me thinking…

How many Peruvians are in the Washington, DC area?

Fortunately, the U.S. Census Bureau can tell me that.

Here are some basic numbers:

Location Peruvian Population Population
Washington, DC 1,400 620,000
Maryland 19,000 5,800,000
Montgomery Co. 13,000 972,000
Prince Georges Co. 1,700 863,000
Baltimore Co. 1,000 805,000
Virginia 34,000 8,100,000
Alexandria 1,600 149,000
Arlington Co. 1,500 208,000
Fairfax Co. 15,000 1,100,000
Prince William Co. 4,600 402,000
TOTAL DC AREA 39,800 5,119,000

So, we now see the raw numbers – as of 2013. What percentage is the Peruvian population of the geographic areas?

Location Peruvian Population Peruvians As Percentage of Total Population
Washington, DC 1,400 0.23
Maryland 19,000 0.33
Montgomery Co. 13,000 1.34
Prince Georges Co. 1,700 0.20
Baltimore Co. 1,000 0.12
Virginia 34,000 0.42
Alexandria 1,600 1.07
Arlington Co. 1,500 0.72
Fairfax Co. 15,000 1.36
Prince William Co. 4,600 1.14
TOTAL DC AREA 39,800 0.78

Assembling that information took about 15 minutes using the Census Bureau website. That amount of time included looking at – and recording – the numbers for 2009-2013.

So, even though the Peruvian population in the greater Washington, DC area is less than 1 percent, the US-Peru game provided an opportunity to look at the 40,000 or so people who came from Peru and settled in the area.

Especially when you think that 28,000 people showed up for the game and it looked as if half of those in attendance were supporting Peru. For the math-challenged, that is about 14,000 people, or about one-third of all the Peruvians in the area.

No matter how you look at it, that is a lot of people.

What kind of work do they do? Yes, we all know the best chicken in the area is Peruvian-style rotisserie. But what other areas of the local economy do Peruvians fill?

Why did the Peruvians in the area come here? Why not someplace else?

These are all questions that could have been asked in a run up to the game or as a follow up to the game. But, alas, I saw nothing in the DC area media about the Peruvian population.

The lack of creativity to find these little, but significant, ways to link a local community to the rest of the world is a shame.

Part of the role of a free and independent press in a democracy is to educate the people about things to help them be informed participants in that democracy.

How can voters make a decision about immigration of international trade when the press is dominated by political arguments about who will build a bigger fence or who will be the first to call for an embargo of imports?

Immigration is more than people crossing the border without proper documents. And trade is more than trying to bring back jobs that will never come back. The issues are complex and personal at the same time.

  • What are the stories of the immigrants?
  • What skills and benefits do they bring to the United States?
  • How has trade affected their desire to live or leave the United States?

These are questions that need to be asked regularly and of different communities. The reasons about 40,000 Peruvians came to the DC area are most likely different than those of the Indians or Koreans in the area.

What are those differences? And why do they matter?

Doing these kinds of stories does not require any foreign travel. All it requires is for an editor and a reporter to be curious about the local community and then to find the proper hook to help tell the stories.

The opportunity in the DC area was lost on the Peruvian community. Maybe the Boston papers will pick up on the Brazilian community connections in time for the US-Brazil friendly September 8.

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Filed under Connections, Immigration

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