Becoming American Becoming Ethnic
Publication Year: 1996
Published by: Temple University Press
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This volume has taken shape over an eighteen-year period and has benefited from the assistance of numerous individuals over the years. First, I thank the students I have had in History/Third World Studies 7B at the University of California, San Diego, and in History 264 at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Librarians at both institutions assisted students as they began to search for their own ...
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A spirited debate on college campuses in recent years has focused on the content of the undergraduate curriculum. Advocates of reform and defenders of current practice square off on a central question: Should we continue to focus general education requirements around classic works in the Western civilization tradition, or should we broaden that ...
Part I: Family Traditions
The fourteen essays in this section explore family histories that begin with the immigration or migration experiences of great-grandparents and grandparents of the student authors. The essays are organized chronologically by the dates of migration of the central family members on ...
Life after Terceira
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The process of Portuguese immigration in my family's history extends back to the beginning of the twentieth century. As you read this essay, you will see how the process of assimilation has affected the first immigrants in my family, beginning with my great-grandfather and great-grandmother and ending with my father and brother-in-law. You will also ...
Coming to Terms with My Heritage
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Growing up in Yonkers, New York, during the 1950s and 1960s, I had always scorned my Finnish heritage because it was so different within that environment. I remember being the subject of much teasing due to my "funny" name-Tanya Kaartinen-and the even more peculiar ones of my parents-Toini and Onni. Many of my peers had never ...
The Family History of a Fourth-Generation Pole
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The Saturday before Easter 1992, my family and I traveled to Massachusetts to visit my grandmother for the holiday. I was able to interview her before the rest of our relatives arrived to partake of Granny's annual Easter borscht. That afternoon she helped me trace my maternal roots. I was really impressed by all the stories I had never heard ...
My Paternal Forebears
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My paternal forebears left Austria-Hungary as a result of discontent with the monarchy and as a means toward realizing a value that in their lives had priority above all others. They sought in America a place where they and future generations could have a better life. The desire to better the lives of their children was so important to them that they willingly ...
The Loss of My Family's Ethnic Ties and the Strengthening of Their American Identities
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Reflecting on her childhood, my grandmother Julia Koch remembers fondly the time she spent in the Old Country and most of her experiences once she moved to the United States. Born on April 25, 1906, on the small island of Rhodes, my grandmother was the youngest of seven children in the Capuya family of Spanish Jews. Leaving her beautiful tourist island was sad for my grandmother, but she also looked forward to ...
What's a Tyrolean? The Immigration of Mario Leonardi to America
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Solvay is a small village approximately one mile west of Syracuse, New York, located in central New York State. Begun as an small industrial town and populated largely by immigrants working at Solvay Process and by the engineers and corporate executives of Solvay Process, Solvay still survives as a little village, although the plant was shut down in 1986. Solvay Process, later incorporated into the Allied Chemical ...
Turetzky Family Assimilation: From Grandparents to Father to Me
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Assimilation is defined as a process by which people take up and are absorbed into a culture. This essay discusses the migration of my paternal grandparents from Russia to the United States and their rejection of assimilation. It tells how they managed to cling steadfastly to their old-world ideals of religion and family, and how their son (my father) ...
Changing Worlds: The Immigration Experiences of My Paternal Grandparents
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I consider myself fortunate when researching the lives of my relatives who immigrated to this country because of the excellent oral testimony of my paternal grandmother, MaryKate Courtney. She immigrated to America in 1920, a prosperous time directly after World War I, and is, I think, a shining example of the "immigrant success story." This essay discusses ...
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It is said that in order to know where you are going, you have to know where you came from. Learning where ancestors came from, why they left, and how they adapted to life when they got here allows people to understand, in part, how they got to be who they are today. ...
A Family History
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Who are we? Where are we from? How did we come to be in this place? I believe questions such as these need to be asked by all of us. However, we should not search for the answers just to satisfy our curiosity. Our history should be more than just a name in a book or a date from a forgotten past. It should be a basis for our future. For only when ...
My Austrian-Italian Ethnicity
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An four of my grandparents immigrated to the United States from Europe prior to World War II. My maternal grandparents, Erna Herzog and Eric Vogel, were born in Vienna, Austria, at the turn of the century. They married in 1934 and continued living in Vienna with no intentions of leaving. My grandfather worked as a self-employed plumber while my grandmother worked in Gerngross, a department store in the ...
East Side Story: What "West Side Story" Left Out
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These are the first few lines of the famous song "America" from the American movie West Side Story. All my life these words have haunted me. It seems that for as long as I can remember whenever I told a non-Hispanic that I was a Puerto Rican, this movie has been brought up. It is a popular opinion among many Americans that the representation of ...
Three Generations in America
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In coming from Mexico to the United States, "the great land of opportunity," my maternal grandmother sought a better way of life for herself and her young daughter. To obtain this economic stability, however, she soon realized there was a price they had to pay, and this was that they must learn to adapt and acculturate themselves to this new and ...
Where I Stand and Why
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Although generations before me did not come to the United States from a different country, we as African Americans have endured our own form of immigration. My family, originally from Lumberton, North Carolina, migrated to New York City in the fall ofl957. My grandfather Franklin Powell left North Carolina at the age of twenty-three ...
Part II: Our Parents, Ourselves
The essays in this section focus on parental immigration or migration experiences and speak to the impact of those experiences on the student authors themselves. More so than the authors in the last section, these students have been directly affected by the immigration process. The dominant theme that emerges is that of feeling torn between ...
A Challenge of Loyalty
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As a result of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, all persons of Japanese ancestry were directed by Executive Order 9066 to leave the California coastal area, an order that was enforced by Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt of the Western Defense Command. Members of this group were forced to evacuate their homes by a certain date and were allowed only a minimal amount of baggage per person. ...
A Bicultural Experience
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Puertorriqueiia o moyeta? (Puerto Rican or black?) This is a question I have been confronted with for the past eleven years. My experience might be different from others because I am a product of two cultures. I sometimes wonder whether I should consider this a gift or the development of an identity problem. In this essay I focus on the migration ...
My Family History
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Tracing my historical beginning was not as easy as I thought it would be. It proved to be a fascinating experience just to hear the names of my ancestors, yet a frustrating search for those I will probably never know. Through remembrances of my parents I was able to learn about my maternal great-great-grandparents, my paternal ...
Being an Other
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Throughout my whole life, people have mistaken me for other ethnic backgrounds, rather than for what I really am. I learned at a young age that there are not too many Puerto Rican, Egyptian Jews out there. For most of my life I have been living in two worlds, and at the same time I have been living in neither. When I was young I did not realize that ...
Discovering My Ethnic Roots
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I am a second-generation Korean American. Both of my parents immigrated to the United States from Seoul, South Korea, for similar reasons: the limited freedoms and the lack of economic opportunities in the decades after the Korean War caused them to seek better ways of life in America. When they arrived in the foreign land, they almost immediately ...
The Experiences of My Parents in Italy and America
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In September 1945 my mother, Anna Marie Lauriero, was born in the town of Altamura in the province of Bari, Italy, the second of four children. She lived with her family on a subsistence farm that her father, Donato, had received as a dowry when marrying my grandmother Maria. This farm grew enough food to feed the family, but created little, ...
Getting to Know My Parents So That I May Know Who I Am
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It's about 5:30 P.M., two days after Thanksgiving. I am at my father's house in Paterson, New Jersey, having my second Thanksgiving dinner. My parents are divorced so every year I celebrate two Thanksgivings, two Christmases, etc., etc. ...
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The sun was setting as I sat with my parents at the kitchen table. My mother was drinking a mug of tea, resting her feet on one of the legs of my father's chair. My father, in an undershirt and plaid pants, was finishing a plate of spaghetti. From time to time, my two younger sisters would come into the room to listen for a while to my parents, who were speaking ...
The Assimilation Problems of My Family in America
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I have often asked my parents the reasons behind our immigration to the United States, but they have always been ambiguous in their answers. My father would give different reasons on different occasions, depending on his mood. One day he would declare better education for his children as a motive but a few days later he would alter it to military and political instability. ...
Part III: Ethnicity in Our Lives
The final group of essays offers views of the United States today, for it brings together the stories of students who were either born in this country in the 1960s or immigrated here in the 1970s or 1980s. These students came of age after the abolition of the national origins quota system, in a period in which Asian and Latin American ...
The Oreo Cookie: Black on the Outside, White on the Inside
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My ethnic background is something that has caused me to constantly reflect on myself and my place in society. I am half "white" and half "black." My father was from Kenya, Africa, and my mother is American. My mother is a mixture of Dutch, English, Welsh, Irish, Spanish, French, and Indian. So I guess I am what some would call a mulatto. ...
Should I or Shouldn't I?
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Many unfortunate children are sometimes caught between asking themselves, "Who am I?" and "Why am I different?" Consequently, many youngsters have lost touch with their cultural heritage due to pressure of socialization in American society. As for myself, I was caught between the struggle of recognizing my Mexican descent and the importance of it to me. ...
My Experience with Immigration/Assimilation in America
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Upon my mother's decision, we left the Philippine Islands ten years ago to seek the many opportunities we heard America had to offer. She felt that the instability of the political and economic situation in the Philippines, triggered by President Marcos's martial law, offered little advancement for the individual as well as the family. Moreover, my father ...
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In writing this "Roots" essay, I felt very excited because I wanted very much to share my roots and ethnicity. But having no sources (other than my immediate family) or documents to research through, it was difficult for me to go back further than my paternal grandfather. I realized that my father is probably the most important influence in my life ...
Being Indian in America: My Ethnic Roots and Me
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My heritage and ethnic roots are the foundation of my self. I am fortunate enough to know my roots and appreciate them. My life changed dramatically thirteen years ago when my family and I emigrated from India. The immigration experience transformed my life and me, personally. I have had the advantage of enjoying both cultures and ...
My Immigrant Experience
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On May 11, 1976 my parents and I landed at Kennedy Airport in New York. We were newly arrived immigrants from the Soviet Union, originating from a town called Chernovtzi, in the Southwestern Ukraine Republic. Fourteen years later, the Sinayuk family is a typical middle- class Long Island household. All those years ago, however, the novelty of the American land and Western ...
Triple Identity: My Experience as an Immigrant in America
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"America is the land of opportunity." Is this a myth or reality? I came to America four years ago with a faith that I would find opportunity here. However, I realize a reality: racism exists and most people will not easily accept immigrants. In the spring of 1990, I took a course, "Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States," in which I learned that I am not alone. Many immigrants encountered similar barriers. ...
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What are we to make of these accounts-of the thirty essays and two poems that students at the University of California, San Diego, and the State University of New York at Binghamton wrote in an immigration history course between 1977 and 1994? A skeptical reader might find them interesting yet pose the question, Are they true? ...
Appendix: Sample Roots Paper Topic
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Notes on Contributors
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Publication Year: 1996