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Oral History-Immigrant

America continues to be the centre of attraction for most cultural and ethnic groups. The History of the US is immensely related and rooted to immigration (Elizabeth, 2006). For years now, US has opened doors for those seeking religious, economic and political refuge as well as those who have come strictly for adventure, seek fortune and exploration. The immigrants decide to come to the US because of numerous reasons. Some escape poverty and oppression, others are after reunification with their families who are already in USA, others come to seek employment and most of them come basically for prosperity and fame.

The immigrants bring forth many economic benefits to US and add to approximately $ 10 billion annually to American economy (Elizabeth, 2006). Approximately nine in around ten US immigrants assert that America is effective than their native countries as far as having better prospects to earn a decent living is concerned (Public, Agenda, 2003). Therefore it is imperative to focus on a migrant from Italy to USA and give an analysis on their experiences in USA, reason behind their immigration, economic factors and the roles that race as well as ethnicity played in the life of the immigrant.

The interview was focused on an Italian native who immigrated to America forty three years ago. His name is Luciano Jones. The reason why he immigrated to USA is because of the challenging standard of living in Italy. There was starvation and increase of diseases in Italy and food was expensive among the Italian’s family. Most of the peasants at that time were spending around 75% of their little income on nothing but food. Despite the fact that food was expensive, it did not contain sufficient nutrition to sustain him and the large family of eight that he had.

There was then the outbreak of malaria and pellagra because of floods, soil erosion and deforestation. The agricultural system was also very much affected and was not modernized and there was no hope of the situation improving. The Italian agriculture by that time had been hurt by the amplifying amounts of American products in Italian market. There was high rate of unemployment because the peasants and the landowners could not profitably trade. The major reason for Luciano immigration to USA was because of economic crisis with hope of getting refuge and feed his large family back home.

Immigration at that time was easy because transportation had been enhanced by cheap railroads and steamships. On arrival to USA, it was not easy as he had thought. He faced a lot of challenges and even reached a point he felt that home was much better. It was hard to say goodbye to his family and friends and move to USA with little money and having to cope with language barrier and culture. He had as little as eighteen dollars. He faced overwhelming poverty, prejudice and isolation because he was in a strange country and he did not know anybody.

He had to do some of the odd jobs that he had never imagined before. He was treated by the natives as less than actually equal to others and most of the people thought he was stupid, of low class and inferior. Some of the traditions that pertained to family started to change. The American condition was basically not favorable to patriarchal Italian culture and language barriers were quite catastrophic. He had to learn how to cope with his foreignness and fit as well as adapt to the culture of the American people.

There were loaming stereotypes that he was a criminal, an illegal alien who should be deported back at home and he could be embarrassed in public because of his Italian accent. However, he still had his pride and was proud of where he had come from though life was quite challenging. He had to break these stereotypes and at one time expressed some immense sentiments to one of the American native which led to exchange of words. He gave the American native all the rational reasons to show that he was not relying on anyone for public assistance and was earning independently out of hard work.

He went through the phases of cultural shock which was so challenging and most of the time he was homesick. After some time, he learnt to communicate in English and found some job. He settled in New York where he got job in a factory. The food was completely different from his native land though nutritious. The main advantage is that in the factory there were more Italian immigrants thus they could speak the same language and at times eat food that was familiar to their culture. Therefore the language, ideals and the customs as well as Italian culture was well preserved because of the neighborhood they had.

Luciano at times was ignorant of the customs and laws in America as he had less time to learn about them. Most of the Americans exploited him by paying him less wages and the landlord took almost everything he could earn. He could work on part time for commission to get money to send back home. The immigrants at that time were living in conditions that were deplorable and in a room that was 12×12 comprised of roughly twenty two people from both sexes and divergent ages with only two beds which had no chair, table or screen.

Life living in these houses was scary as plaster was falling, no water, pipes always froze during winter and there were bedbugs. He suffered from high temperatures during winter, sickness and the stuffiness of the rooms. Back home, he was a farmer but when he came to America he could not farm. The reason was because American land was quite expensive, he had to make money as fast as he could and farming usually required a lot of time. Also farming would have reminded him of all the miserable and unappealing conditions he left at home. He was called names like “guinea”, “wop” and others.

Some of the stores even refuted to sell him groceries and even rent him a place to stay with the hope he would go back home. He had to go for night classes to learn English which was tough. Race is currently linked with health risks and vast poor health among the immigrants (Ilene, 2009). Racism does influence people’s health directly because of the prevailing anxiety, depression, low self esteem and stress (Ilene, 2009) Luciano faced racial discrimination on arrival to USA. He had no equal access in accessing health when he was unwell and was made to wait for longer periods than others and treated with contempt.

He hence suffered from stress, depression, disapproval, hopelessness and low self esteem. There was a time when he was admitted and unlike the American natives who had a regular doctor, he had no regular physician and had more unmet health needs. There was also some positive influence. As time went by he found the city more beautiful than his native land. He enjoyed the change of environment, new and big buildings, mountains, seas and rivers, new faces and even made friends with some of them. He came to enjoy the new food offered and what life offered him as far as job prospect was concerned.

He was a fast learner and after learning English he could communicate effectively. He found exploration of the American land quite appealing and looked forward to learning more on the land. He became curious to know more of the American culture and study on their laws to avoid ignorance and criticism from the American natives. His values have changed since then. As time went by, he found the whole experience to be a blessing because it made him more courageous to face life and be more positive when approaching life. He has learnt to be optimistic.

He learnt that for him to cope in USA, he had to immerse himself in American lifestyle and choose friends not basing them on the cultural grounds and identity but on their quality. He finally invited his family over after six years and enrolled the children to various schools. This helped him build more networks of friends. He was keen to raise his children with an immense sense of culture and retain their home culture identity. He had to face the challenge of facing his family go through cultural shock, discrimination in school and encouraged them to face life positively and make friends irrespective of their cultural backgrounds.

They were always discriminated because of their accent; way of dressing and communication issues and had to learn how to walk head high. Immigration has had a lot of benefits to him like amplification in the cultural diversity, increase of the whole economic welfare as well as increase in the standard of their living. He learnt to adapt to the American values without having to complain and now he feels more oriented than before. He came to appreciate the values of the American people and even adopted their lifestyle; way of dressing, communicating and has developed an American accent.

He has gained a lot of friends and now he is an owner of a textile industry and employs some Americans. He has gained respect from the natives and they are no longer poor though at times he has to be reminded that he is not an American by people who are just after frustrating him because of his competitive nature. The children today are yet to settle completely and the first born son has incorporated some of the American values to Italian culture and has married an American woman. Before he had invited his family over, he had problems living alone and brought in an American woman in the house to see if things would work out.

He had however lied that he was single in order to win the woman. On staying with her, life turned to be so challenging because he realized they were incompatible in everything. The cultural and racial differences put a lot of pressure on the relationship. He had no way to deal with the overwhelming prejudice that was patent. There was a language barrier problem and the lady always looked down upon him with a lot of contempt and superiority. The fact that she was more educated than him led to more problems as he discovered that they were not intellectually compatible.

Some of the problems they faced were values, sex, gender roles, eating habits, friends and her in-laws. The value differences caused major misunderstandings and disagreements thus leading to conflicts. Some of the issues that arose in sex are issues to do with contraception, chastity, sexual practices, dating, romance and way of dressing. She expected to go out every day for a date and could not understand that the man had some financial strains. Luciano believed in chastity in the relationship but the girl could still go out with other men and come back the following day.

When questioned she always retorted claiming that America was a free country. She dressed in a way that embarrassed Luciano and was no longer comfortable being seeing with her in public. In the western society the women are usually offered more freedom and liberty (Interracial marriages, N. d) and in this case it was no different. When it came to gender roles, she practically did nothing as she had a lot of freedom thus could not serve him. Also apparently the woman did not want children and was on contraceptives when Luciano expected her to conceive.

There were also mixed and negative societal attitudes from the neighbors who thought that they were together because of status symbols and an upward mobility which he could not take anymore and decided to let go of the relationship. The family of the girl also had different views on the girl and had more expectations on her and always created controversy between the two. Their friends were also controversial and had difficulties in comprehending the relationship. He ended up losing some of his Italian friends because of the new relationship.

Luciano now feels that the values though at the beginning presented to be negative; he has now fully assimilated the American lifestyle now views it quite positively than before. He also had to cope with the rate of modernization and in his business he has learnt to be influential and competitive by acknowledging there are other textile businesses. Modernization and technology impact has helped him in research and learn on ways to improve his business and compete with other industries. Modernization also required him to go to school and learn on IT concepts to understand fully on how to cope with the high technological trends.

The values have now earned him new friends, more job prospects, integrity, respect, and acceptance in a foreign land. The interview ended in a high note. Luciano does not regret ever coming to America as he has learned a lot. He is now multicultural, understands the American lifestyle and has gained a lot of friends. He can now cater for his big family and some of them have found jobs in the country. He has adapted perfectly well and believes that even the younger children will adapt fully with ease.

He is optimistic of a better future and he is appreciative that America has given him a chance to mature intellectually, socially, professionally, academically and financially. Interview notes 1. Interviewee full names and profession at Italy Luciano Jones ;peasant farmer 2. Reasons for immigration The reasons for immigrating from Italy to USA was unemployment, underemployment, little medical care, high mortality, poor housing, exploitation, overpopulation and high demand by the big family, high food expenses, agricultural crisis, deforestation, soil erosion, floods, diseases and low nutritious food.

Luciano went to look for an opportunity to get a better life and earn better salary to cater for his family. Immigration was eased by effective transport means. Life was difficult at home and needed a change of the environment. 3. Challenges faced and experience He faced problems like language barrier, culture divergence, discrimination; health, accent, dressing lifestyle and was seen as a criminal. He had no idea of the American laws and had less time to learn. He had dating problems and the congestion in the rooms they rented.

He was discriminated and at times he could not buy in the grocery or be allowed to rent a room. He had less education thus got odd jobs. He was called names and was unfairly treated even in the hospitals. He received fewer wage and went through cultural shock. He was lonely and homesick and the hot temperatures affected him. He dated an American woman. In dating he faced problems in dating, sex, gender roles, and problem with in laws and friends. Adapting to the new culture was difficult. The children also had to cope with cultural shock and discrimination. 4. Impact of racism and ethnicity

It led to low self esteem, depression, stress and disapproval. He became homesick and led to conflicts between him and some Americans. It led to a state of hopelessness and negativity. 5. Benefits of Immigration and impact of values Luciano learnt to be courageous and persistent. He learnt to persevere and became financially mature as well as socially, physically and emotional mature. He learnt to cope with the culture and came to appreciate US values. He gained a lot of friends and was in a position to take cater for the family and offer financial and emotional support.

He got his own business, learnt more on American culture, went back to school and learnt English and IT and got acknowledgement and more respect. His children went to school and assimilated the American lifestyle. He came to appreciate the American culture, admired the American natural sceneries and became oriented to the surroundings and the people. Values influenced his life positively finally though it was difficult at first. Modernization made him more open minded and focused thus he decided to go to school in order to compete effectively. Works Cited Arizaga, Elizabeth. Why do immigrants come to the United States of America?

(2006). Retrieved 17, May, 2010<http://media. www. thegramblinite. com/media/storage/paper926/news/2006/11/17/Opinion/Why-Do. Immigrants. Come. To. United. States. Of. America-2665777. shtml Hyman, Ilene. Racism as a determinant of immigrant health. (2009). Retrieved 17, May, 2010<canada. metropolis. net/pdfs/racism_policy_brief_e. pdf Immigrants Dispel Negative Stereotypes. Public Agenda. (2003). Retrieved 17, May, 2010<http://www. publicagenda. org/press-releases/immigrants-dispel-negative-stereotypes Interracial Marriages. (N. d). Retrieved 17, May, 2010< http://www. angelfire. com/space/cropcircles/

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