- Loving Immigrants in America: An Experiential Philosophy of Personal Interaction by Daniel G. Campos
Daniel G. Campos. Lexington Books, 2017.
In his book Loving Immigrants in America: An Experiential Philosophy of Personal Interaction, Daniel Campos shares a refreshing sentiment: "I cannot argue others into understanding my experience; I can only convey and reflect upon it, so that a critical dialogue can ensue" (3). Campos's first-person narrative is intimate, vulnerable, and honest. Over fifteen chapters, Campos writes about his experience as an immigrant in the United States and memories of growing up in Costa Rica.
Campos shares with us the process of his decision to come to the United States. This entailed a series of events such as being captivated by the movie Dead Poets Society when Campos was still in high school. After watching this movie, he began reading the literature and poems mentioned in the movie and deepened a friendship with a young woman who shared Campos's appreciation for literature. Some months into their budding friendship, Campos's friend was murdered, and this unfortunate event shook Campos to the core. Brokenhearted and disoriented, he interviewed and was recruited by a liberal arts college in Arkansas to study economics.
Campos moved to the United States and began his study of economics; however, his passion was American literature. With a Thoreau-like sensibility, Campos likes to spend quality time with himself, going out to the woods and meditating in nature, and not just doing what the crowd does. In time, Campos spoke to the economics advisor who recruited him and told him that economics was not for him. Nothing about economics seemed to fit Campos, who writes of himself as a young undergraduate attending his courses dressed in jeans and a T-shirt while the other business students were aspiring bankers and went to class dressed in business suits. To encourage him, the economics advisor gave him a copy of The Grapes of Wrath and told him the book would put a human face to economics. But The Grapes of Wrath only made Campos fall more in love with American literature because he was able to relate to the migrant experience of the Joads. [End Page 122]
Campos grew up attending an Evangelical church in Costa Rica. Years later, when he was an undergraduate in Arkansas, he went on missionary trips during spring break because the university would close up the dorms for the week, and he didn't have anywhere else to live for that time. This gave him the opportunity to travel, see the United States, and meet new people. He relates the experiences of meeting and living with families for a week at a time and having very interesting conversations with them. Campos's ability to remember many of these details is remarkable. A recurring theme in the book is his exploration of the southern United States.
As he was essentially surrounded by a very different culture in the South, Campos missed the Latin American experience. As an undergraduate, he befriended other international students with whom he could enjoy Latin American culture. The deep differences between the Latin American and southern US culture were somewhat jarring for Campos. On one occasion, he and his fellow international students sang a Costa Rican folk song that mentioned drinking. When a university administrator found out about this, he asked them not to ever sing that song again since drinking was very much against the university mission. A year later, Campos and the other international students performed a traditional folk dance. The dance symbolized courting, and the dancing couples staged a kiss at the end of the performance. Again, this performance, which was very much staged and rehearsed, unnecessarily became a controversial event for the school.
To share and experience the Latin American culture, the international students got together and played soccer (futbol). The school Campos attended had a soccer team, but none of the United Statesian undergraduates played for the team. Instead, the international students played on the team and raised money to buy their uniforms, pay for gas, and drive their cars...