A Brazilian American's Reflections on Faith, Culture, and Immigration
Publication Year: 2012
Due to both his family background and the prevalence of U.S. media in Latin America, Cavalcanti already felt immersed in U.S. culture before arriving in Kentucky in 1981 to complete graduate studies. At that time, opportunities for advancement in the United States exceeded those in Brazil, and in an era of military dictatorships throughout much of Latin America, Cavalcanti sought in the United States a nation of laws. In this memoir, he reflects on the dynamics of acculturation, immigrant parenting, interactions with native-born U.S. citizens, and the costs involved in rejecting his country of birth for an adopted nation. He also touches on many of the factors that contribute to migration in both the “sending” and “receiving” countries and explores the contemporary phenomenon of accelerated immigration.
With its blend of personal anecdotes and scholarly information, Almost Home addresses both individual and policy-related issues to provide a moving portrait of the impact of migration on those who, like Cavalcanti, confront both the wonder and the disorientation inherent in the immigrant experience.
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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While research on immigration tells us much about relocating to a host country, transitioning into a foreign culture, and forging a brand new identity, much remains to be explored in migration studies, especially for those who continuously bridge two separate countries over their entire lifetime. American sociology has explored in depth the usual assimilation pattern for immigrants...
1. A Southern Beginning
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People assume that immigrants learn about the American ways once they get here. But many of us come to the United States already well- versed in certain aspects of its culture. For instance, I have been immersed in southern culture for as long as I can remember. Whether in prose, poetry, or song, my life was organized around old notions of southern chivalry and faith. Stephen...
2. Military Rule
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Latin America’s great tragedy is that there isn’t a woman or man my age in the region who has not lived under military rule. In fact, the arbitrary and capricious use of military power in domestic affairs has been a hallmark of our homelands. While the American citizen enjoys the safety of the Posse Comitatus...
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Somerset Maugham’s words aptly describe those of us who leave homelands in search of more familiar places. It is a search not wholly driven by financial need. Ambition alone cannot explain it. There is more to it. Something else animates the impulse, something about our lives back home feels misplaced, slanted. We cannot explain the strangeness of our birthplaces, nor...
4. Immigrant Parenting
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We late boomer suburban parents probably raised the most over-scheduled bunch of American kids ever. With Mom and Dad busy at work, taking turns with after- school activities, our kids grew up at the Y, the children’s museum, the science museum, the dance studio, the martial arts studio, the local public library, and other assorted sites. They signed up for chess club, language...
5. Pledging One’s Life
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To me, the final paragraph is the most moving part of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Picture the scene: it is July 1776 in Philadelphia; the Second Continental Congress gathers in the Assembly Room of Independence Hall. On the second of the month, a vote of twelve of the thirteen colonies (New York abstaining) starts the deliberation on the Declaration of Independence...
6. Almost Home
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Born near a small town in eastern Oregon (population 900), a high, dry place of deep canyons, Mark’s childhood was filled by county fairs, rodeos, 4-H clubs, and FFA meetings. 1 Situated in one of the least populated areas of the United States, Mark’s school was the only one for miles on end. Twenty- seven seniors graduated with him that year. Most of them remained in the area...
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Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 3 b/w photos, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012