This interviewee is so close to my heart. We’ve been best friends for close to five years now and he is like family to me. So it truly was a pleasure to have him open up about his past and his journey to the U.S. When he left his home in Baguio City, he was relatively young. His mother had immigrated to the U.S. a few months before to set up a few things; namely to find a place for the family to live, a place to work and to be as situated and as comfortable with America as possible to help her family to adjust well once they arrived.
As I stated before, his mother came up a few months prior to the rest of the family. I asked if his mom knew anyone when she got here and he said yes. She had friends and coworkers from the Philippines that helped her to adjust to life in the United States. Relying on a network of people to help to acclimate oneself is something that is very typical of immigrants. His mom became that network for my interviewee and the rest of his family. His mom also found support from the local church that had a rather large contingent of Filipinos.
Coming to a brand new place and establishing a whole new life was very hard for his mom. When I asked my interviewee what the hardest part of coming here was for him, he talked about all of the friends and extended family that he had to leave behind and about how hard it was having to start making new relationships. He said that it was so difficult to leave the Philippines because that was the only home he ever knew.
The experience of moving to the U.S. was totally new for him and I wanted to know if he had any preconceived notions about what life in the U.S. would be like. He said that whenever he saw a television program based in the U.S., it was shown as a very clean place and that the people were generally nice. He did say though that he watched a movie about a difficult and dangerous school in the Bronx and so he felt somewhat prepared for a hard school life.
Upon arriving here, he found that the U.S., and specifically New York, wasn’t clean. There were some nice people but not everyone was as nice as he expected. School wasn’t as bad as he thought it was going to be; he started his American education at public school then he transferred to a Christian school. The main obstacle that he had to deal with in his school was becoming accustomed to the racial diversity that exists here in New York. In Baguio City, the racial makeup consisted of a lot of Koreans, a lot of Filipinos and only a few black people (who were mostly missionaries). Before arriving here, he expected the racial makeup of the US to be mostly white and a few black with little to no racial mixing. Needless to say, he was quite surprised when he arrived in Queens, the most diverse borough in New York City.
Over the years, my best friend has become super comfortable living here in New York. He goes to college, mingles with tons of people from different walks of life and is well on the way to achieving his American dream; being comfortable here in America and making a name for himself and his family.