Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgments, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-xx

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Introduction

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pp. xxi-xxx

When I was a child and strangers overheard my mother’s accent they would sometimes ask her, “Where are you from?” Her standard reply was “Central America,” unless the person asking was obviously another Latin and then she would get specific and say “El Salvador.” I understood from an early age why she...

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Elisa Albo

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p. 1

I was born in Havana to Sephardic Jews, and we emigrated to the U.S. when I was a year old. My parents were married the same year Fidel Castro ousted Batista. Over the next two years, they found the rapidly changing political situation intolerable and made plans to leave. Their plans became urgent when my father...

Cartography

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pp. 2-4

Exile

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p. 5

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Kazim Ali

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pp. 6-7

My father’s family moved to Pakistan from India in 1942 and so my parents were separated by that complicated national border when they were married. My mother joined my father in London where he had work. I was a home-birth, born on a cold Tuesday morning on Bingham Road in Croydon, U.K. When Pierre...

Home

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pp. 8-12

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Dori Appel

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p. 13

I was born in Chicago in 1935. My grandparents emigrated to America at the end of the nineteenth century. Though all were Jewish, anti-Semitism was a much greater issue for my Polish grandparents than for their Hungarian counterparts. As in Vienna, Jews had a degree of freedom in Hungary during this period. I think...

Stowaways

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p. 14

Legacy

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pp. 15-17

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William Archila

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p. 18

Both of my parents, Rolando Archila and Margarita Alfaro, were born in Santa Ana, El Salvador. In November of 1980, when I was twelve years old, I left my native country of El Salvador. I left the war that tore that country apart. Without having read enough Salvadorean history, I arrived in Los Angeles with many questions...

Caffeine

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pp. 19-20

The Day John Lennon Died

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p. 21

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F.J. Bergmann

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p. 22

I was born in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1954 and grew up partly in Janesville, Wisconsin, and partly in France, where my father’s job had taken him. My father, Franz Walter Matthay, was born in Köln, Germany, in 1911, and at nineteen was encouraged to immigrate to the U.S. by visiting relatives who wanted to rescue...

Finite Love

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p. 23

Travelogue

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p. 24

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Richard Blanco

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pp. 25-26

Richard Blanco’s mother, seven months pregnant, and the rest of the family arrived as exiles from Cuba to Madrid, where he was born on February 15, 1968. Forty-five days later, the family emigrated once more to New York City. Only a few weeks old, Blanco already belonged to three countries, a foreshadowing of...

América

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pp. 27-30

Looking for the Gulf Motel

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pp. 31-32

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Gabriella Burman

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p. 33

My mother was raised in La Paz, Bolivia. She is of Polish-Jewish extractions and emigrated from Jerusalem to the U.S. in 1970, after she became engaged to my American father. I was born and raised in Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit...

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Estela

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pp. 34-40

My mother, a tall woman with short, blonde hair that is always perfectly coiffed, was raised in Bolivia (not Bulgaria), and has always had particular trouble with two words in the English language: vocabulary, in which she emphasizes the third instead of the second syllable so that it comes out, “vocaBUElary,” and...

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Lauren Camp

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p. 41

My father was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq; my mother grew up in the Midwest. As a child, I observed and shared Iraqi rituals and foods with my father’s extended family frequently. Somehow, those customs and language didn’t seem odd. I understood that they were part of me, though no one else in my class...

Letter to Baghdad

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pp. 42-43

Pauses

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pp. 44-45

Variation (Let's Pretend)

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pp. 46-47

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Tina Chang

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p. 48

Tina Chang was born in 1969 in Oklahoma to Chinese immigrants who had met in Montreal, where her mother was working as a nurse and her father was earning his doctorate in physics. The family moved to New York when she was a year old. She was raised in New York City. During her younger years, Chang and...

The Shifting Kingdom

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pp. 49-50

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Viji K. Chary

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p. 51

Viji K. Chary completed her undergraduate degree in genetics at the University of California, Berkeley and an MA in public administration at California State University, Hayward. Her stories have been published...

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Laying a Foundation

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pp. 52-53

After an eighteen-hour flight from San Francisco to Singapore, my exhausted family checked into a room for transit passengers. Everyone claimed a bed and dropped off to a deep slumber. A few hours later, one by one, we awoke and showered.
My mother disappeared into the bathroom wearing wrinkled...

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Angie Chuang

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p. 54

I was born in San Francisco, California, to immigrant parents from Taiwan. My father, Tien-Yuh Chuang, was born in Fujian, China, immigrated to Taiwan by boat with his family when he was five, and then again to the United States in the 1960s, during the post-Sputnik push for foreign engineering grad students...

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Six Syllables

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pp. 55-58

The gap between being an outsider and belonging can be much narrower than we fear. In Kabul, we napped every afternoon, a two-hour siesta that made up for rising before dawn with the mosque loudspeaker’s first call to prayer. As with most things in Afghanistan, naps were easy to enter, difficult to get out of. The soft...

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Jeanie Chung

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p. 59

Both my parents immigrated to the United States from Korea, leaving their entire families, most of whom remained in North Korea. Growing up, I never appreciated the enormous sacrifices they made for my sister and me, for example, speaking mostly English at home, and always to us, so that we would enter school...

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Cuts and Folds

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pp. 60-63

Blepharoplasty comes from the Greek words “blepharo,” which means “eyelid,” and “plasty,” which means “shaping.” It’s so nice to have a mother who can help out with the troop for an afternoon, the Brownie leader says. And what an interesting activity. Origami. The girls don’t have many opportunities to make crafts...

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Nancy Brewka-Clark

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p. 64

While both my parents were full-blooded Ukrainians, my mother was born here. My father emigrated in the early 1920s and was extremely reticent about discussing his life, but he brought his love of the land with him. Even though he became an insurance agent and was a jazz violinist and drummer in a big band for...

My Father's Orchard

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pp. 65-68

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Liz Rose Dolan

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p. 69

My mother was born in Tullaree, Kilcoo, in 1905; my father was born in Castlewellan in 1901, both in County Down, Northern Ireland. Single, they both arrived in this country in 1930 just in time for The Depression. It’s called the luck of the Irish. My four siblings and I were born and raised in The Bronx, New...

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The Man from God Knows Where

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pp. 70-72

Central Wrap hummed like a steam engine as I tossed the brown packages wrapped with twine onto the conveyor belt during the 1958 Christmas season at Stern’s Department Store, around the corner from the lions in front of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street. I was sixteen. Occasionally, I threw a package...

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Vickie Fernandez

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pp. 73-74

Before Castro’s regime, my family had no desire to leave their country. They changed their minds once the quality of life began to deteriorate and they were faced with job losses and inhumane food rations. My great-grandmother and my uncle were the first to flee. Once established, my uncle began the arduous...

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Cuban Medicine

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pp. 75-77

It’s a hot, sticky day and the air conditioner is on the fritz. The car stinks of fowl and Mom is wearing the bobbed wig that never sits right on her head. Sweat beads run down her cheeks as she sings along with Billy Joel about the good dying young. She smells bad, the floral accents of her perfume fail to mask the metallic...

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Gloria Frym

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p. 78

My father, Bernard Frym, was born in Lublin, Poland. He was the youngest child of a Talmud scholar, Henoch, and his wife Ester. Henoch died when my father was nine. Ester tried to raise her four children among her large and deeply religious extended family. Ester was persuaded by her eldest brother, who had...

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A Little History

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pp. 79-81

I was five years old, and it was during summer, perhaps July, because I remember that it was very hot, the air was thick and salty. This was not in the story, but outside it, like blankets, like sheets on a bed. In the bed of I.
My family was staying at the beach, as many families of the middle class did to flee the heat...

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Melissa Castillo-Garsow

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p. 82

I grew up in Ithaca, New York, where I was raised with Spanish as my primary language. My father immigrated to the United States at age twenty-two from Mexico City where he worked in a cheese factory in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He decided there was no future in factory work and enrolled in the University of Wisconsin...

Poem to the White Man Who Asks Me after Overhearing Me Speak Spanish where to Find the Best Mexican Food and Then Is Shocked to Find out I Am mexican

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pp. 83-84

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pp. 85-86

Cuando Sueño Con Arizona

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pp. 87-88

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Ana Garza G’z

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p. 89

My parents met and married in Mexico. They came to Central California in the mid-1960s, hoping to save enough money to buy a home in Mexico. They did farm work, mostly in grape, cotton, almond, and tomato fields. In the early 1970s, my dad started working in a winery, where wages were good enough for them to...

Pa Grafts Trees

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pp. 90-91

Pinto Bean Meditation

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p. 92

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Melody S. Gee

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p. 93

My mother escaped to Hong Kong from rural China in 1959, at age twelve, just before the Great Leap Forward. She came to Sacramento, California, in 1966. My father was born in California in 1940, and was raised by his two immigrant parents, also from Guangdong, China, in their family’s take-out restaurant...

One Year Extra

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pp. 94-95

Where We Are Gathered

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p. 96

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Danusha Goska

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p. 97

My parents were peasant immigrants from Eastern Europe. My mother, Pavlina Kerekova, was born in Slovakia, the country that sent the most immigrants, per capita, to the U.S. during the massive wave of immigration between 1880 and 1924. Pavlina had not met her coal miner father until she arrived in the U.S. at...

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Silence

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pp. 98-105

It was a summer afternoon and I was napping on a tour bus in Poland, weary from working to internalize the Polish language, the only natural barrier in that invader’s nation of choice. I had had to start from scratch, with “My name is . . .” As I drifted off to sleep, I suddenly felt I was a tiny child snoozing on a spiral rag...

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Andrei Guruianu

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p. 106

My parents left Romania shortly after the Revolution of 1989. Much was uncertain in terms of the country’s future at that point, and with a chance to leave the country for the first time after the fall of communism my parents took the opportunity to come to America and pursue a better life for themselves and for...

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From Mother Tongue to Borrowed Tongue: The Writer as Perpetual Foreigner

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pp. 107-109

My own language has become foreign to me. I can’t tell you exactly when, whether it has taken months or years to come to this, lost in its cadence coming through as noise. Maybe it has always been this way, and I am only now aware of how adrift one could feel, even when tucked in a cradle of sound, pre-birth and pre-suffering...

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John Guzlowski

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p. 110

John Guzlowski’s parents met in a slave labor camp in Nazi Germany. His mother Tekla Hanczarek came from a small community west of Lviv, in what was then Poland, where her father was a forest warden. John’s father Jan was born in a farming community north of Poznań. John was born Zbigniew Guzlowski...

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Growing Up Polack

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pp. 111-114

My dad spent four and a half years in Buchenwald concentration camp in Nazi Germany. My mother spent two and a half years as a slave laborer in various camps there. When the war ended, she weighed 125, he weighed 75. After the war they couldn’t return to Poland, so they lived in refugee camps till they received...

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Darrel Alejandro Holnes

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p. 115

I was born to Panamanian parents that immigrated to Houston, Texas, during the dictatorship of General Manuel Noriega...

To the Gentrified Man Who Avenges: Panamá 1999

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pp. 116-117

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pp. 118-120

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Frank Izaguirre

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p. 121

Frank Izaguirre’s parents are Cuban exiles who came to America in the late ’60s to seek better opportunities and escape the deprivations and tyranny of the Castro regime...

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Growth in the Garden

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pp. 122-124

Much of my childhood was spent searching for animals in my Cuban mother’s garden. Any time of day I could find tiny brown anoles scurrying everywhere, and the green anoles that blended perfectly into the foliage. The geckos in the carport sometimes snuck into the house, and I would cup my hands around them...

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Mohja Kahf

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p. 125

Poet and scholar Mohja Kahf was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1967. Her family moved to the United States in 1971, and Kahf grew up in the Midwest...

My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sing of the Bathroom at Sears

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pp. 126-128

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Alan King

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p. 129

My parents grew up in the Chinapoo Village neighborhood of Morvant, Trinidad. My mom left to go live with her sister in Canada. My dad immigrated with my grandmother and his sisters to Washington, D.C. Both my parents left Trinidad for better opportunities. My dad is a self-employed electrician. My...

The Hostess

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p. 130

The Listener

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pp. 131-135

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Jenna Le

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p. 136

My parents immigrated from Vietnam to the U.S. shortly after the Fall of Saigon. They were among the hundreds of thousands of Vietnam War refugees who fled their native shores by boat in the ensuing chaos, for fear of being imprisoned in “reeducation camps” by the victorious North Vietnamese government. After...

Trick

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p. 137

Mom's Cocks

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p. 138

Inheritance

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p. 139

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Li-Young Lee

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p. 140

Li-Young Lee was born in 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. His father had been a personal physician to Mao Zedong while in China, and relocated the family to Indonesia, where he helped found Gamaliel University. In 1959, the Lee family fled the country to escape anti-Chinese sentiment and...

Arise, Go Down

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pp. 141-142

I Ask My Mother to Sing

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p. 143

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Joseph O. Legaspi

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p. 144

I was born in Manila, Philippines, in 1971. My family and I immigrated to Los Angeles in 1984. It was a tumultuous time in the Philippines. The resistance against President Marcos’s regime was cresting, fueled by the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr., the exiled leader of the government opposition. Along with the...

Alaska

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pp. 145-146

My Father in the Night

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p. 147

The Immigrants' Son

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pp. 148-149

The Red Sweater

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p. 150

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David Licata

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p. 151

My mother, Neva Crovatin, was born in 1925 in Trieste, Italy, a city with a complicated modern history. In the spring of 1945 the city was occupied by Allied troops, and it was sometime during that year that she met an American GI named Joseph Licata, a child of Sicilian immigrants who spoke Italian. On April...

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The Wolf is in the Kitchen

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pp. 152-153

After we ate the cake, we played Twister in Steve’s playroom, which is a basement with paneling, and that’s when the teasing began. A group of boys that weren’t invited to the sleepover were beside an open window and we couldn’t see them but we knew who they were and who they were making fun of...

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Jane Lin

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p. 154

My father came from Taiwan to New York in 1966 for a job training as a doctor. My mother arrived a few months later with my brother and sister. They planned to return to Taiwan, but Nixon’s visit to China, my brother’s asthma, my birth, and a good job kept them here...

Ancestry

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pp. 155-156

House Rules

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pp. 157-158

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Timothy Liu

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p. 159

Timothy Liu (Liu Ti Mo) was born in 1965 in San Jose, California, to parents from the Chinese mainland.

The Remains

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pp. 160-161

Classical Music

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p. 162

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Helen Losse

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p. 163

Born and raised in Joplin, Missouri, I am the daughter of an American father and an English mother. My parents met and married in England where my father (an American soldier) was stationed during WWII. My parents met through a couple, Mr. and Mrs. White, who attended the St. Augustine’s Church in Swindon...

The Powder Box

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pp. 164-165

Product of War

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p. 166

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Tara L. Masih

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p. 167

My father was born in Almora, Uttarakhand, which is found in northern India among the Himalayan Foothills. He came to the United States on a scholarship from the counseling and psychology department at Syracuse University, where he received his PhD. During a summer job at a Thousand Islands club...

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Excerpts from "Vignettes from a Certain Source"

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pp. 168-169

There is no one in the media that I can identify myself with, no star I can emulate. My hair does its own thing—curly and straight where it wishes; my skin looks wrong with Coty’s rouge. One day I listen to Cher singing “Half-Breed” on my bedside radio. Through the summer and into ninth grade I wear hip-hugging...

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Komal Patel Mathew

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p. 170

I was born in the U.S. and raised in Rome, Georgia. My family has had quite a “diasporic” life with ties to Africa, India, and England. My work reflects on the deconstruction and construction of South Asian identities formed from being raised in a Hindu family but being called to the Christian faith as an adult. Although...

An American

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pp. 171-172

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Covering Candles and Other Follies

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pp. 173-175

A year after I became a Christian and before I moved to New York for grad school, my family and I went to New Jersey for a wedding, the kind of affair that starts on a Wednesday and ends with fireworks spewing out of the top of centerpieces. On our way to the Newark airport, I pleaded for a visit to Ground Zero—“Just...

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Margaret McMullan

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pp. 176-177

My mother was born in Vienna, Austria, and after Hitler took the city, she was forced to leave with her mother and father in 1939. Her father left first, then about a week later, my mother and her mother followed. All of them crossed the border by train into Switzerland. From there they travelled through France...

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What's in a Name?

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pp. 178-181

My mother has the kind of maiden name I always wanted, a name I coveted, a name that was long, hard to pronounce, European, and decidedly “other.” Many women learn very early that they will probably lose their names when they marry, so it goes without saying that if you know you will lose something, you don’t get...

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Nancy Anne Miller

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p. 182

I have been writing about the influences of two cultures for most of my writing life. Although I note myself as a Bermudian poet because I was born there into a longstanding Bermudian family, my father was American and registered me as a U.S. citizen at birth. We then moved to this country in my early teens...

Christmas Trees at Home and Abroad

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p. 183

Loquat Time

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p. 184

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Sahar Mustafah

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p. 185

My late father was born and raised in the town of al-Birah, bordering Ramallah, a Palestinian city in the central West Bank. My mother is originally from al-Khalil (Hebron) though her parents also lived in al-Birah in a house that faced the road to Jerusalem. In the mid-twentieth century, my paternal grandfather...

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The Arabians

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pp. 186-188

Technically, we were the only Palestinians on our side of the block on Fairfield Street, but if you cut through the alley to Washtenaw, two other families like us could be found. Well, one of them was like us. The other was comprised of nawar, as my mother called them: trash. Their two-story house was like a clown...

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Jed Myers

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p. 189

I was born in Philadelphia in 1952 to parents of Eastern European Jewish heritage. For many years, a good share of the poems I wrote explored the infinitely complex matter of the multigenerational resonances of immigration, and while I am the grandchild and great-grandchild of my immigrant forebears, I am deeply...

The Dead's Tremors

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pp. 190-191

Same Fire

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pp. 192-193

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Paul E. Nelson

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pp. 194-195

My dad was a lifelong railroad man and, at the low end of the seniority totem pole at the Milwaukee Road, had last choice for annual vacations. He ended up taking his in February and March, in Florida, to see baseball’s spring training. A railroad employee’s discount for a boat ride to Cuba got him to Havana where he...

Guanabo Beach, 2005

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pp. 196-199

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Joey Nicoletti

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p. 200

I was born in Astoria, Queens, New York City. My mother and her parents immigrated to the U.S.A. from Orsogna, Italy, in the early 1950s. They departed because, in my mother’s words, “Mussolini stole Italy from Italy,” meaning that the fallout of Mussolini’s domestic and foreign policies left the Italian national...

Onion Pie

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pp. 201-203

Risotto Elegy

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p. 204

Sylvester Stallone Overdrive

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p. 205

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Naomi Shihab Nye

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pp. 206-207

Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri, to a Palestinian father and an American mother. During her high school years, she lived in Ramallah in Palestine, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her BA in English and world religions from...

Two Countries

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p. 208

Blood

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pp. 209-210

Half-and-Half

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p. 211

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Oliver de la Paz

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pp. 212-213

I was born in Marikina/Metro Manila in February 1972. On September 21, 1972, Ferdinand Marcos issued Proclamation No. 1081, which was a declaration of martial law under the pretext of an assassination attempt on the Defense Secretary and an alleged growing communist insurgency. People were being put on...

Meditation with Smoke and Flowers

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pp. 214-215

In Defense of Small Towns

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pp. 216-217

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Michelle Peñaloza

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p. 218

My parents both immigrated from the Philippines, separately. My mother came from Malolos, Bulacan, and my father from San Pablo City, Laguna; both on the island of Luzon. They met in Detroit while both working at a dental manufacturing factory. My father worked on the factory floor. My mother was a chemist...

Letter from Mother

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pp. 219-220

My Father, On the Line

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p. 221

Thread Rite

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pp. 222-223

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Shin Yu Pai

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pp. 224-225

I was born in the Midwest and grew up in the Inland Empire of Southern California. My parents are first-generation immigrants from Taiwan. My father moved to the United States to pursue graduate-level studies at a small Midwestern university. My mother joined him a year later and they married. We spoke...

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A Midwinter's Day

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pp. 226-229

On Beigan Island in the Matsu archipelago of Taiwan, my seventy-one-year-old father insists on walking everywhere, as he did during his military assignment nearly fifty years ago. We retrace the path from Tangqi to Houao Village, a trek that he made almost daily in 1964. The two villages were once connected solely by Baisha...

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Catherine Rankovic

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p. 230

My father Dragomir Rankovic arrived in the U.S. at Ellis Island in 1950, brought by the U.S. Displaced Persons program to work in the Bell City Foundry in Racine, Wisconsin. He was born in 1919 in a village twenty miles outside of Belgrade and in boyhood was apprenticed to a blacksmith. He joined the Royal...

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You Buy Nice—You Got Nice

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pp. 231-232

My father came to the U.S. from Eastern Europe on a steamship in 1950. He learned English, but he spoke it like a telegram, so he couldn’t really lecture his four American-born kids, or talk things over with us, and the words of wisdom we got from him were few. When his children began dating he warned us, “You...

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Yelizaveta P. Renfro

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p. 233

I was born 1975 in the former Soviet Union to a Russian mother and American father but moved to the U.S. at the age of three and grew up in Riverside, California...

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Butela

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pp. 234-236

I watch you as you stand with a metal basin in your hands near that spindly tree at the edge of a dust-choked field, and your pause is long, deliberate before you finally tilt the basin and pour the water into the dry earth bowl around the birch. You have come not with a hose or a watering can, not with a proper vessel for the job...

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Susanna Rich

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p. 237

My mother, Susanna Szilágyi, and my father, Nicholas Lippóczy, met at the Hungarian Ministry of Defense in Budapest, where they were working in 1945. When the Russians invaded Hungary, they fled to Bad Wörishofen, Germany, where they married in 1946. With my mother’s help, my father founded...

Dirty Dancing, János, With You

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pp. 238-239

Pentecost Sunday: Mátyás Church, Budapest

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pp. 240-241

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Tammy Robacker

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p. 242

My father was U.S.-born and met my mother in West Germany while he served as an MP in the U.S. Army. They married and lived in Germany where I was born. In late 1969 we came to the United States to live as a family after my father was discharged from the military. I grew up as a child experiencing the...

Kuchen and Cancer

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p. 243

Sauerkraut

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pp. 244-245

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Mary Lou Sanelli

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p. 246

As a first-generation American and daughter of Italian immigrants—Maria Antoinette Sinsigalli and Luigi Gabrielle Sanelli, coming to this country, like so many, after the Second World War, my father from Umbria, my mother from Puglia—I longed to break free of Old World constraints of religion and culture...

Sliced Meat and Bread

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pp. 247-248

Pane Di Pasqua All'Uobo (Easter Egg Bread)

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p. 249

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Frances Saunders

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p. 250

My mother was the last of three daughters at home when pogroms raged in Odessa, Russia, on the eve of WWI. Her two older sisters left for Marseilles earlier. A third sister had chosen to settle in the United States. She married soon after. Her husband sponsored my mother, who landed on Ellis Island at age eighteen...

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Picture This

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pp. 251-257

I didn’t get the ballerina. What I got instead set in motion a tug of war between my irrepressible fear and my mother’s unreasonable obstinacy. We had just moved from Harlem to the East Bronx. Sitting on the edge of my bed in my newly acquired privacy, my eyes roamed the naked white walls. On the far side...

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Melita Schaum

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pp. 258-259

My mother, father and grandmother fled postwar Germany in 1952 to settle first in Canada then in America. Refugees from Nazi Germany, they left it all behind—the suffering and guilt, the cooking smells and accents and rituals, their own conflicted loyalties—to cast off on the immigrants’ journey from poverty to...

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Exchanges

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pp. 260-262

It perched in the kitchen of our small New Jersey subdivision home—black, fat as a roach, clinging to the wall above the breakfast table like the motionless carapace of some horrific beetle. It was an old rotary, with a bulbous earpiece and a Ferris wheel of startling white numbers, and it made a ratchety, clicking sound...

Provisions

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pp. 263-264

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Michael Schmeltzer

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p. 265

I was born in Yokosuka, Japan, in 1978, my mother in Okinawa in 1949. My Minnesota-born and -raised father met and married my mother (they have been married for over forty years now) while he was stationed in Okinawa. Our entire family moved to the United States in the summer of 1988, and I didn’t realize...

An Accent Like Grief

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pp. 266-268

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Willa Elizabeth Schmidt

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p. 269

My parents were immigrants from Germany and Austria. They met in Chicago, where I was born. I grew up with their German friends and their language all around me, though I only became fluent in it myself when I studied it in high school and college. My parents, wanting to be American, spoke English, only reverting...

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Second Life

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pp. 270-273

In the spring of 1944, my parents bought a white frame house on the edge of Chicago, where empty lots, remnants of the conquered prairie, were rapidly filling. My mother, an Austrian immigrant, was forty-two then, my father slightly younger, their only child going on three.
The backyard sold her, that March...

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Prageeta Sharma

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p. 274

Prageeta Sharma was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1972, shortly after her parents emigrated from India in 1969...

A Situation for Mrs. Biswas

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pp. 275-282

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Laura Shovan

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p. 283

My mother, born in Nottingham, England, at the close of WWII, found herself at the 1964 World’s Fair (New York), representing England as a Johnson’s Wax Girl. My father, a business professor who grew up in the Bronx, dated several of Johnson’s Wax’s “countries” before settling on my mother. They wrote each...

The Swimmer

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pp. 284-286

Pastoral With Hedgehog

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p. 287

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SJ Sindu

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p. 288

I was born in Sri Lanka, and came to the U.S. at the age of seven with my parents, who immigrated to pursue graduate degrees at the University of Massachusetts. My parents liked to wander, and I never grew up in one place I can call home. My brother and I were carted from city to city, state to state, cementing a...

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Test Group 4: Womanhood and Other Failures

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pp. 289-292

My love affair with women started when I learned about the female suicide bombers in Sri Lanka. I was five. It blew my mind that women—the make-upped, dark-eyed beauty queens of the Indian Bollywood movies—could be dangerous enough to strap on explosives beneath the folds of their sarees...

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SR-9

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pp. 293-294

It stings the back of your throat, something sweet on the top of your mouth, the underbelly of your tongue. Squint through the thick gray air, the yellow haze of safety glasses. This is gunpowder, invading your lungs, combusting starchy smoke.
This was not your idea.
Even through the pillow mufflers over your ears...

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Zhanna Slor

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p. 295

I was born in Chernovtsy, Ukraine (though it was still the Soviet Union then), in 1986. My parents, along with me, my sister, and grandparents, moved to Wisconsin in January 1991—this was for many reasons, but primarily because of religious persecution. They did not treat Jews well in the Soviet Union, so we were..

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An Echo

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pp. 296-301

Spaceeba,” says an old woman in a long, ivy-green dress and peacoat, as I hold open the glass vestibule door. She puts away her keys and shuffles ahead, past a mailman filling a long row of empty mailboxes, past the garage-sale impressionist paintings of flowers hanging on the walls, past an old man struggling with...

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Angela Sorby

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p. 302

My father and his family moved to Seattle, Washington, from Norway in 1957. WWII had devastated Norway’s economy and my grandfather, Aage, found better prospects painting houses in the Ballard area of Seattle, which was populated largely by other Scandinavian immigrants...

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The Boring Side of the Family

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pp. 303-305

Ira Sukrungruang is Thai-American, born in 1976 to two Thai immigrants. His parents—Montri and Chintana—were part of the first wave of Thai immigrants to come to America in the late ’60s and ’70s. They were responsible for constructing Wat Dhammaram, the Thai Buddhist Temple of Chicago. America...

Ira Sukrungruang

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p. 306

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Chop Suey

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pp. 307-308

My mother was a champion bowler in Thailand. This was not what I knew of her. I knew only her expectations of me to be the perfect Thai boy. I knew her distaste for blonde American women she feared would seduce her son. I knew her distrust of the world she found herself in, a world of white faces and mackerel in a can...

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Natalie Haney Tilghman

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p. 309

Although I was not raised by my grandparents, they were integral in my upbringing and this trip to Italy occurred as part of my Outside Experience while in grad school. It was a life dream to return to my grandparents’ birthplace and I now have dual citizenship in Italy and the U.S...

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Presentosa—Tracing the Gold in my Blood

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pp. 310-311

Roma and Pittsburgh. These were the places where the men in my family—Alfredo and Frank Mastrovincenzo—practiced their craft, sculpting gold by hand into rings, brooches, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets to sell in their jewelry shops. My baby ring and later my wedding rings were made by Bucci’s Jewelry...

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Bunkong “BK” Tuon

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p. 312

I was born in Cambodia several years before the 1975 Khmer Rouge takeover. I lost my mother to sickness and starvation. In 1979, when the Vietnamese army entered Cambodia, my uncles, aunts, and grandmother took me away from my father and together fled to refugee camps along the Cambodia–Thai border. In...

Living in the Hyphen

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p. 313

Photograph of my Mother

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pp. 314-315

Early Saturday Morning in Malden, MA (1986)

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p. 316

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Itoro Udofia

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p. 317

Itoro Udofia was born in 1987 in Houston, Texas, but has spent most of her life growing up on the East Coast. Her parents came to America with the hopes of acquiring Western education during the 1970s and hoped to return to Nigeria. They raised three children born in the United States...

Daughter of the Diaspora

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pp. 318-319

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Denise S. Valenti

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p. 320

My mother came to the United States from Cuba in 1963 after deciding she couldn’t live under Fidel Castro’s Communist regime. She was twenty-two when she left her widowed mother and five young sisters in the hope of one day helping them to follow her. The Cuban government wouldn’t allow her to take anything...

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Spanish

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pp. 321-322

Dice, ‘agua,’” my mother said to me as she held out a glass. She refused to release it from her grip until I relented, but I walked away with a dry mouth rather than say the word “water” in Spanish. I was about five years old and quickly learned the comeback that was my only sure defense: “You’re in America now. Speak English...

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Elisabeth von Uhl

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p. 323

My grandmother was a very hard woman. She came from Germany and married another German immigrant in the United States. They then moved to a farm in rural Wisconsin. She had seven children and her husband left her when the oldest was around eighteen years old and shipped off to Vietnam. I never met my...

Child Speaks of German-Immigrant Grandmother

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p. 324

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Alexandrine Vo

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p. 325

My work is greatly informed by my experiences of growing up in Vietnam and of being a political exile to the U.S. As my father had served in the South Vietnamese Army and was imprisoned for seven years in concentration camps after the War, my family and I were granted permanent residency and later, American...

Omphalos

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p. 326

Luck

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pp. 327-328

Revisiting

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p. 329

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Ocean Vuong

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p. 330

My family immigrated to the U.S. in 1990. I was a year old. We came to the U.S. because my mother is a con lai or a half-breed: her father was an unknown American soldier during the Vietnam War and once the U.S. lost the conflict, the Vietnamese government wanted to eradicate its soil of “tainted products of the...

Returning

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p. 331

After All

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pp. 332-334

Sai Gon, Again

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p. 335

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Kristy Webster

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pp. 336-337

My father was born in 1919 in Helena, Montana. His parents were farmers as well as zealous Jehovah’s Witnesses ministers. At the age of forty, my father relocated to Barranquilla, Colombia, to preach and make converts. He worked as a taxi cab driver to support himself as he received no payment from the church for...

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Mother Fire, Father Ice

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pp. 338-341

As a child, I used to put my dark hand over my sister’s porcelain skin and think of Neapolitan ice cream. I’d think how her hands reminded me of the vanilla and strawberry, and our mother’s hand reminded me of the chocolate, and I was somewhere in the middle. If my sister was vanilla-strawberry-cream, I was chocolate...

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Chris Wiewiora

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p. 342

My father grew up speaking Polish and English in Chicago, and then majored in Russian at college. He was born in England, but his mother was born in the southwest of Poland (now in Ukraine). They immigrated to the States in the ’50s. My mother is an American and born in West Virginia. I was born in West Virginia...

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M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I

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pp. 343-346

In kindergarten, I sat on gray carpet. Cutout letters of the alphabet strung above the blackboard. The other kids repeated after the teacher, “Ah.”
I knew that the sound wasn’t the one that connected to the letter. The teacher made a noise like the one I heard Mom make at home when she lowered herself...

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Aida Zilelian

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p. 347

I am a first-generation American-Armenian born in Queens, New York, in 1973 and raised by parents whose families were victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. It took me many years to appreciate my culture, and this story provides a small glimpse into my struggle of living in America while being raised by...

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The Art of Trying

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pp. 348-351

My hand began to ache as I held the blunt knife in my hand and pressed into the slab of plaster to create a new, clean line. One would expect that perhaps we would have been provided with a more pliable material, one that didn’t need the force and brutality with which I tackled this piece of cement-like clay. I was nine...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 352-353

“A Situation for Mrs. Biswas” appears in the collection Undergloom by Prageeta Sharma (Fence Books, 2013). “Alaska,” “My Father in the Night,” “The Immigrants’ Son,” and “The Red Sweater” appear in the collection Imago by Joseph O. Legaspi (CavanKerry Press, 2007). Used by permission. “An American” appeared in...

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Editor Bio: Tina Schumann, Ed.

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p. 354

Tina Schumann is author of three poetry collections: As If (Parlor City Press, 2010), which was awarded the Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize; Requiem: A Patrimony of Fugues (Diode Editions), winner of...