Points In Between: Episode 9
Friends and Family
[Intro sounds: kids yelling, door opening, footsteps in hallway, classroom voices, bell ringing to start class.]
You’re listening to Points In Between.
This is Episode 9: Friends And Family
Shiraj: I used to watch movies. So I kind of expected as everyone to be friendly but that was like…the wrong expectation. I mean, OK there are people [who are] friendly but to mingle with them you need to like… the chemistry… you need…It's hard to find people who had the same chemistry as you.
This episode of Points in Between is about putting down roots in a new place. How do new students who are new to American schools make friends and what happens at home as they get more comfortable?
We began with Shiraj, who moved from a boarding school in India to a public school in California during high school.
Shiraj: The first few weeks I didn't have friends so I had to sit alone and have lunch. It used to be really embarrassing because like I didn't know what to do. I mean, if I go try to talk to someone it's kind of weird. [laughs] But then also I tried to talk to a few people but then the guys wouldn't …because it's pretty weird and someone comes to just start to talk to you. So I try to do that, but OK, it doesn't work so I just kind of left and I thought I'd do some sport to get to know more people. So I decided to do cross-country and I found a few people there.
If you listened to Episode 2, you might remember that in India, Shiraj was a cricket player. It was important to him. Vishnu was a cricket player, too. He picked up badminton at school herein California to meet people.
Shane: How did you feel about just, like, you weren't a cricket player anymore? And not just you weren't a cricket player anymore, but like no one even knew it was.
Vishnu: Like so no one at my school knew what cricket was, but cricket still exists in the US. A lot of people play it at like a competitive level. So like I started playing with them. So cricket still existed, I just didn't like talk about cricket a lot so I had to find different things to talk about. So I used to talk about like I don't know...like academics a lot, which kind of made me look like a nerd. Which it's not ideal, but I guess…
The good thing playing cricket in the US is like in India you play cricket [with] only the Indian players like top Indian people, but in the US you play against like the top Indian people, top English people, like top players all across the world. So that kind of opened my perspective again. So, although like it shut me down on one side, like maybe I couldn't talk to people in my school about cricket, it opened me to like talk to people from New Zealand, Australia about cricket from their country. So I got something by losing something. So yeah …
Serafin, who came from Senegal, loved soccer. In his case, there was a team, but he wasn’t sure how to join it.
Serafin: …but then, the first couple of weeks to go try out it was like…[sigh] I didn't know where to start, because you know everybody ...there's like hundreds of people trying out for the team. And it's like, “Oh man, what am I going to do? I don't really talk to anybody.” So it geo me upset a little bit because you know you want to talk to people but you don't know where to start or how to approach people. It’s like, “Oh…Well whatever.” So what I would just do is wait. When they are practicing on this side, I'll be on the other side doing something else until the coach noticed me and was like "Hey, come here!” And then that's how I got integrated to the soccer team and then started talking to people and I was like, “Oh!”
You’re probably noticing a theme here. Let’s try another one. Simon was born in Korea, but spent much of elementary school in the US. He had the experience of switching to school in a new country twice: once when he moved from the US to Korea toward the end of elementary school, and then again when he moved back to the US for high school. I asked him about making his first Korean friend.
Simon: So we started talking about video games, which is another thing I think that is pretty universal that a lot of people can talk about, and we ended up playing the same one. And he came over one day. I asked him to come over, if he wanted to play some video games and that was it. He was like the first friend I think I called because he… I think he lived in America for like maybe six months, so his English wasn't even that bad either. So like that kind of thing. We connected on that. We connected on like video games and that whole thing because it's like pretty ….pretty good.
Simon mentions two types of common ground. First, video games, which he describes as “universal” and then second, the experience itself of attending school in a new country. When he Simon came back to the US he tried to rekindle his elementary school friendships, but that didn’t work out. So?
Simon: What I found was that through basketball… I tried out for the basketball team sophomore year and that basketball platform basically boosted me to this place where I had like a bunch of my friends on the team and we eventually formed like a squad outside of the basketball team. And that was like …and that's been my friend … my best friends till today. I think that's like a big part about, you know, how I've started becoming part of American culture.
The benefit of a sports team is that it comes with a sense of camaraderie and common ground built right into it.
When she moved from The Gambia to England at age 15, Lingerr didn’t find the kind of culture of extracurricular sports that exists in many American schools.
Lingerr: It was hard for me to make friends partly, because in … homeroom basically for the first like three or four months I would literally walk in and sit and read and not talk to anybody. I was just terrified of being in close proximity with all of these English people. And then at some point my home teacher took my book and was like, “No. You have to talk to people.” And that was great because actually I started to make friends. And it's funny because my first friend was an international student in her first year in England. [laughs] She was from South Africa, actually, and she was more going than I was as she had already started to make friends, but once we became friends we became really close. So she and this black English girl and I were really good friends in my first year and because of them I started like meet other people…
Lingerr’s teacher helped facilitate her interactions with classmates and she and her first friend shared a common experience of being international students.
It isn’t always a simple prospect to find someone with a shared common experience. Schools in the US reflect the larger society, including divisions based on racial and ethnic categories. Roya, from Afghanistan, had to puzzle out where she fit.
Roya: Even Palo Alto was predominately white. So, coming from India was really colored. I had a tan. [laughs] So the kids were looking me because my niece was really fair. They're like, “Oh, you're dark. Your niece is like....[light]” That's the first time I learned about color because it was like, “Really? I'm dark?” [laughs] When kids told me like, “Oh, she's dark” and telling my niece, like, “You’re light.” I was like “Really? I'm dark?” And then going to Monterey and I saw the divisions of children, of black kids are separate, Asian kids are by themselves, and Latinos are separate, and the white kids. So that kind of like struck me. I was like, “Oh my god.” So you're gonna have to fit into which group you can fit in. I didn't even know where I'm fitting to any of these groups..
Shane: And how did you decide what group… did you feel like you had to decide what group you fit into?
Roya: No, it was just for me it was like having someone to talk to or be friends with. Because even the English Second Language, Latino, Spanish kids were sitting by themself. So it's kind of like still at lunchtime, you’re lonely. Where are you gonna eat your lunch? I learned very fast that lunch time was a horrible nightmare because I didn't like lunchtime because everybody was with their friends and I didn't have anybody. So it was either I would go to library and then just eat my food and I would just keep watching the clocks, “When [does] the class start?” because class time was my fun time. But then I had…there was a Chinese girl, Ellen, and then Saundra, this other German girl. They came [as] transfer[s] when I was there so I ended up becoming their friends because they're not connected to any other backgrounds, so three of us became friends.
I also asked XuHui, a college exchange student from China, if he interacts with American students in his classes. He said, “Sure.” For example he asks his classmates plenty of questions about the class itself.
XuHui: ...yeah, in most cases what I ask should be those Asian faces. Yeah. I seldom ask those [laughs] European faces…American faces because Berkeley really ha[s] a diverse culture here, but I also feel the segregation. I mean, different kinds of people with different skins they actually… yeah…talk in their circle themselves. But at the same time actually I didn't mind that at all, because usually what I ask usually is the people sitting next to me so no matter if it's European or American and Chinese-born American.... or like that. I just asked the people sitting next to me. But, you see, what is interesting is that in most cases the ones sitting beside me, behind me, in front of me actually have an Asian face. [laughing]
XuHui’s account is a reminder of what our own behavior signals to newcomers. He clearly felt more comfortable reaching out to Asian and Asian Americans students but then also, the social geography of the classroom only reinforced that.
Ra’ouf, from Yemen, found that being an English Learner was enough common ground to form friendships.
Ra’ouf: I think what made it easier is that I was with people that are also immigrants, that are learning the language itself too. So there was no attitude between or among students, because we were on the same plane and the Ethiopian guy was the sort of starting point. But then, I think, maybe four to five months, that's when I started to also have another buddy who was from Guatemala. And I still remember his name: Alex.
He was here already I think for three years. And he did struggle and that's because he was working and he was not really showing up to class that much. He relied on me to give him the homework and to help him out because I was receiving my - I was getting help with my homework in the center. But for him, first I think he didn't find anywhere to go. Second, he cannot stay in school to get help because he need to go and work. And so… I think that's when I would call common interests...merged. Like you know the relationship between Saudi Arabia and America, you know? [laughs] I just gave that, you know, analogy just to give you sort of, you know…Americans need the oil and Saudis need the uh, sort of protection. And that's what happened with me with Alex. He needed my homework. But at the same time I do need his help with everything else.
Every friend is valuable, but from the standpoint of cultural adaptation, I was curious about newcomers’ first American-born friends.
I asked Roya if she made any American-born friends in high school.
Roya: In high school I did, for a short period time. This girl Shelia, she moved from Eureka to Monterey. She was a white girl, moved in, she didn't fit in just - similar case - because she was new. Nobody wanted to be her friends. So I had one class with her and ended up being friends with her for one year in high school.
Caroline and her mother came from Czech Republic when Caroline was 14. They moved again when Caroline had been in the US for about a year.
Caroline: I knew one girl because of …her father was Czech and she...we like moved over to their apartment for a little while. So me and her were sort of like these unofficial sisters and she didn't know any Czech. She was completely, you know American, San Diego born. So she really was like my really, really first like intimate American friend, just because we were living together literally and, you know, we have the same room, we shared everything. So I sort of, I suppose, I had this - through her - I had the access to everybody else.
In addition to introducing her to a network of friends, Caroline’s temporary roommate expanded her knowledge of American pop culture. You can hear more about that, if you haven’t already, in Episode 7.
Selena moved to Utah from Bosnia when she was 12.
Selena: I think I made my first American born friend in eighth grade. There was a girl named Lindsay Smith. We still keep in touch. We've been friends for years now. She sat in a … chair next to mine and she would pass me notes, which was my first experience with note passing. Never knew this was a thing. But she just said, “Hi!” and her “i” had a heart and then a smiley face. And then I started learning how to write with the Zee's you know, like… cool… K E W L …like I learned that this is a thing that people do, and people write like this, and call each other “babe” and “sweetheart” or whatever it is. She was my first friend that kind of taught me that and introduced me to music. And she was kind of my source to like understanding how socializing worked. She invited me to sleep overs. I TP'd someone's house once. I never knew that was the thing. I was like, “Why would you waste toilet paper?” [laughs] This was my whole thing. I was like, “This is expensive!”
Shane: You're like, “I went to I went to school without a bathroom and now we’re just throwing toilet paper…”
Selena: That's exactly what I thought! I'm like, “These kids are crazy! This is so entitled.” I was like, “Oh my god I'm a vandal!” [laughs]
Selena made her first friend in the classroom, but that relationship gave her access to something beyond the shared world of school. She got to see how American kids acted in their private lives.
Serafin also had the opportunity to get a view into this private world. We left him just as he joined a soccer team. He got to know people but it took a while to develop a true friendship with an American.
Serafin: So my first friend - American friend - his name is Chad. So, we met through soccer too, because after like three years there's a semi pro league that's … around. So a friend of mine, a French guy, was like "Oh you want to play for this team? They're looking for players." So I went there and started playing and then I met him. He goes "Hey, I live in Hayward … Where are you from?"
I was like, "Senegal."
He goes, "Oh man. I'm stupid." He said, "I'm stupid. I don't know where that place is."
So I talked to him and then he [wants to] exchange numbers after the game and you know he called a couple of times to hang out and I was just keeping my distance because like...until one day he goes, “I'll give you a ride to the game. I live in Hayward.”
I was like, "OK" I gave him my address, he picked me up, went to the game.
"You want to hang out later on tonight. We're going to go out with the guys?” You know, “Meet my friends, man, come on!"
I was like, "[sigh]," I was like "Okay, sure".
So that's how I started hanging out with him and his friends, the other guys…since then.
They’ve all been friends for 10 years now. Serafin does remember his first visit to Chad’s house, when he met his family.
Serafin: So when I went in, on a Saturday night, walked in. The dad is like …he loves - he's been to Africa before - and he loves hunting. [laughs] So, when I walked in they had uh…they had some type of deer on the wall when you walked in and I looked at it. "Oh. Really!? Whatever.” [laughs] And the mom, "Hey! I've heard so much about you." Right there, they were so nice and I was like, “Oh, this is cool.” They're telling me they were teachers, they were principals. The dad "I've been to Africa a couple of times." He's been to Zimbabwe and then some other countries. I was like, "Oh, that’s cool. Hunting?"
He goes" ah...".
I was like, "yeah.” [laughs]
But they are very nice...And you know until this days they always call and they have a ranch, so they always invite us to go to the ranch. We all get together and go there for like a week and hang out.
Clearly, Serafin likes Chad’s parents. The meeting went well. To me though – it also sounds a little bit awkward. Like, it was once of those moments where personal goodwill intersects with the weirder dynamics of the larger world.
Shiraj tried to avoid some of this awkwardness.
Shiraj: Yeah he's, actually his parents are Indian but he's American. So yeah I thought he'll - cause he's Indian - I thought it will be kind of… he will have some Indian in him. But no, he's totally American. So…
We actually did cross-country together, so …because… the first time I think I saw his parents was when, I think, I went to his house once. I was really surprised because his parents were like, they were cooking Indian food and his parents were talking in Hindi, but he just came across and he was like, "Mom, this is my friend Shiraj. He is from India," and then that's it. And then we went to his room. If I [were] to do the same thing with my friend, I would call him. I would talk to my parents about him. My parents would talk to him. We would mingle a bit and then I would go to my room.
Yeah, and then also one time his dad drove us to Los Angeles for a meet, cross-country meet. I don’t know why I'm mentioning this, but he didn't really care about anything what's going on in the car. He just didn’t care about his, what his son is doing or whatever his friends are doing. He's just driving his thing and then…whatever. Because if my parents would have drove, then my dad would talk to them about, “So how's life? How are you doing?” and all that. I mean, I'm not trying to be mean towards that …he, it was really different.
You can hear Shiraj trying to overlay two cultural norms on top of each other right here. Through one lens, his friend’s parents are giving the boys space and privacy appropriate to their age. But through the other, his friend is being rude and his friend’s parents seem strangely disinterested in their son’s life.
Lingerr also commented on differences in family dynamics, between The Gambia and the US.
Lingerr: Things in the Gambia, in being slightly more conservative then and now, also allowed us a longer childhood. So with my students now, I know that they’re drinking, or doing drugs, or having sex, or whatever else it is. And when I was in The Gambia that was just like not even… I mean it was probably on people's minds, but it's really not what students were doing in their free time. We were just always hanging out at each others’ houses and our parents knew our friends parents really well. And I see that sometimes here, but definitely not to the same extent I saw in Gambia because in Gambia not only would my parents know my friends’ parents, they would have known my friends’ parents’ parents and like my friends’ parents’ cousins and like everyone just kind of knows each other. The notion of family is so humongous there…
Despite differences, Lingerr adapted to the social life of students while she was in England. There were minor hiccups.
Lingerr: I think the only other big difference, though, is drinking age because in England 18. But I've always been a grade below whatever grade I was in. So all of my friends turned 18 senior year except me. So I felt a little bit behind in that because, even though… they would invite me out and everything and sometimes we’d just go to the sketchy pubs that would serve underage students, but sometimes they also wanted to go to nicer ones because they were now of age, and I couldn't really go. And I remember this moment where - because at this point I was the only black girl in both year 12 and 13 - and I remember this moment where someone was like, “Okay, well why don't you use this person's fake. like…”
And I was like, “She looks nothing like me,” and they were like, “Yeah, her dad is black.” And I was like, “I mean she looks hella white.” This was before San Francisco so I didn't actually say ‘hella” back then. But, I was like, “This is crazy.” So then I borrowed my cousins I.D. My cousin also looks nothing like me. She's way more light skinned and her entire face is different. And I somehow still got it everywhere. So I guess: thank God for weird insidious racist moments? [laughs] But I think the age thing was one thing that kept me feeling a little separate and I was still quite shy.
Roya said that for her the feeling of belonging really didn’t happen until college.
Roya: USF is such a diverse school. I've met friends from Africa, from Australia, Japan, Costa Rica. I met so many different - Puerto Rico - like all my closest friends were from everywhere. So I have like international friends.
…And then the second friend was in college -
She means her second American-born friend, here.
Roya: - was Erin, and she was born and raised in Las Vegas. African American. So that was my second American-born friend.
Roya mostly brought these friends to her family’s house, rather than going to theirs. This was partly geographical – her mom lived nearby.
Roya: And also I think was a cultural things, since growing up, my mom she always wants us to bring friends in. [She was] more welcoming of bringing people in the house. If it was a Thanksgiving, I would bring a friend... like there was always holidays that I had one or two friends from college that would just, they would tag along and come with me.
I really enjoyed picturing this international, intercultural Thanksgiving crowd that brought Roya’s school world together with her family. It can be hard to bridge that gap.
Yesica, who came from Mexico in the 6th grade, still finds it challenging.
Yesica: My first American friend....hmmm...I'm trying to think. [whispers to herself] Who was it? I can't remember. Because I think, I feel like most of the time I was always like, not stick tomy own kind. But yeah, stick to people that looked like me because that's what you're used to. Especially if you're coming to a completely different country. Over there, like, I never saw Chinese people. I never saw African American people. I never saw anybody that looked different than me, so I was kind of blown away just to see, like, all kinds of different people here. So I thought that was interesting. Yeah. I don't think I actually made like, in grammar school, an American friend.
Even here, sometimes, in school, I already went through this whole journey and everything, but even here, my classmates here don’t...not that they have to have the same background, but we don't really understand each other in a lot of things because um...How can I say it? Like, I mean, a lot of their parents are educated and a lot of their parents they had the opportunities to have school, have all this stuff, and we didn't. So, I don't know. I still feel like there is a gap that I have to cross for me to just be friends with them.
Shane: Do you feel that same way about that gap existing between you and your parents now? Because you've had such a different experience in America than they have.
Yesica: Yeah, actually I have thought about that. I feel like their experience has just been all about work. And like, we have, for …our experience has been more about exploration and understanding the place that we're at. My dad, he works like six days – he works six days a week for ten hours every day. And I'm just like, "Dude, that's been your life for 15 years. When are you gonna stop?”
Shane: Do you feel like he knows and your mom knows what your day-to-day life is like now?
Yesica: No, they don't. I mean, she asks me all the time, like, what am I doing, but I don't think they understand it. I don’t think they understand it at all to be honest.
To think about what’s happening here, it helps to go back to observations that Siobhan, another newcomer, made in Episode 8. As Yesica moved from Mexico, through American schools and into college, she didn’t just traverse boundaries of nationality, race, and language. She is also going to school, now, mostly with people from a different social class than the one she grew up in.
Money and work also came up in my conversation with Juan, from El Salvador.
Juan: …but at the same time I think that all that process just gave me a lot of endurance, which is good. And, you know, I pretty much started working since like a couple of weeks after I arrived here. You know, I started working in a fast food restaurant and then I moved into a retail store. So I've been working since I'm like 16 and a half and going to school since I… since I came here, pretty much. So I was tired, especially the days I worked, because when I was in high school I work three days during the week. So I get off from school around 3:00, 3:30 I would start work around 5:00, I would be home, I would get into bed 10:30, 11:00 and then go to school the next morning. And then on the weekends I would work one eight-hour shift on a Saturday or on a Sunday.
But it isn’t just about being busy or needing to earn money. As the conversation turned to Juan’s parents, it was clear that what we were discussing was class identity.
Juan: They both had it hard. But now that I am getting in, developing my own career, I can tell that it was probably harder - not that it wasn't hard for my mom [laughs]- but I'm pretty sure was a little bit harder from my dad because he was an attorney there. And, he had to work as a janitor here. So I guess, from a point of view I guess it was a step down for him. He went … to the Salvadorean consul in San Francisco and he met this other attorney from El Salvador who was pretty successful and he was fortunate enough to meet him and they started working together and he started working as an attorney from El Salvador doing legal documents here as well.
Shane: Are there things that you think your parents didn't understand, or don't understand, about what it was like for you to go to school when you came here?
Juan: You know when it comes to education, of course they always - just like any parent, “Go to school. Go to college. Get good grades.” They somehow thought that by just by getting a degree, I'll automatically get a good paying job. [laughs] Or a decent paying job. And it's, you know, that's one of the things that's kind of frustrating me…has frustrated me. I know that I work hard for my things, but you know it kind of came crashing down to me that I had to work a lot harder to make…let’s say a better type of living, or the type of living that I was I was suspecting in my head. They understood that I was going to have to work hard on college to get good grades, but they didn't understand it was going to take a lot more to get …. I guess the lifestyle that they, you know, they had in their mind that I was going to be getting.
Selena, too, was involved with her family’s process of upward mobility.
Selena: My father, God bless his soul, when he came here, his diploma didn't even count. So he couldn't even be an x-ray tech. He worked a graveyard shift as a janitor at a cookie company and slept for like three hours a day and went to school during the day, you know, studying for anything from like CLEP exams, to going to classes. And I was the one in our family that spoke the most English, because I was the most extroverted so like I absorbed it the quickest. I was writing my father's college papers at like 13 and 14 to help him, you know, get his job back. And, you know, my mom she didn't speak any English and she just worked like a minimum wage - and I think minimum wage in Utah then was like $5.50 - job at like a window-making company or something. And I think of that and then I think of like how now, my father has been at his hospital where he works as an X-ray tech for the last 20 years or something like that, and he mentors other people and, you know, they have this beautiful house in the suburbs in Utah. My father like rides his very nice Goldwing motorcycle and he's part of like a little club and, you know, my mom is a supervisor at a company and it's just like such a far place from where we were.
In the last episode, I talked about the long history of children who cross borders and learn how to practice more than one culture. A frequent element of that transition is negotiation and debate with family members or employers from their first culture, who object to the ways they adapt to fit in.
As intimately involved as Selena was with her family’s economic efforts, she had a whole school world that they did not understand.
Selena: My parents would say I'm Americanized. It bothered them because…well, one, I don't think they understood how school functioned. For example, a lot of American kids they give hugs. It's like a normal thing. So like someone walks you to your lockers and they're saying goodbye, they'll give you a hug and they’ll leave. So one day my dad, he came into the school and he saw boy give me a hug and my dad's a conservative Muslim. So this was like, “Holy crap!” You know, he was very upset with me and I got grounded for a long time because of that. But I was trying to explain to him that like, “This is normal! Kids do this and kids go walk, you know, to a 7-Eleven and get Slurpees after school,” which I wasn't allowed to do because it was too dangerous, you know. And that, my parents were like, “As long as you're making good grades.” Like that's all they care about. But they didn't even, they couldn't help me with my schoolwork.
It was really hard to explain to my parents like why it was so difficult to fit in. You know? And I don't think they minded too much because they were so busy trying to make a living for us and trying to give us a better life, you know? They had moved here and sacrificed everything for us. I feel like the last thing they needed or wanted to worry about was like How was their kid doing in the friend - you know, making friends and stuff? They were just kind of like, “OK… let us know.” They did their best. I know they did. But it was hard to explain to them, like, listen, “Socializing here is different than there.” And you know, they never felt safe. So I tried to respect that as much as I could, as difficult as it was on my social life.
Respecting her parents didn’t mean remaining completely isolated from her new school world. Like most kids, Selena picked her fights. She prioritized some kinds of school participation above others. And, as you’ll hear, the negotiations are ongoing, even into adulthood.
Selena: I realized that, like, if I don't take matters into my own hands, like I'm never going to go to a dance. So I asked a boy to ask me to junior prom and then senior prom I asked somebody, because I was like, “You know what? I have to go to prom.” And I told my parents, I was like, “This is an experience that - American kids do this.” Like, “I have to do this because someday I'm gonna look back and if I didn't go like I'm going to be sorry that I didn't go.” So I tried to explain to them like why it was important and although I couldn't afford the limo or like the fancy dinner or anything like that, I had a couple of friends who like helped me out and I got a job - my very first job - at a Little Caesars Pizza. I held the sign outside. I made enough money to buy a dress and a prom ticket and, you know, participate in a dinner …
Shane: Your dad had to get from the point where, “Oh my God, a boy hugged my daughter at school” to “My daughter is putting on a dress and going to dance with a guy.” But I just wondered, you know, like about that or how that happened.
Selena: My father is a lovely stubborn soul. I love him so much. It was a lot of fighting and pulling teeth and when I first… it was even like that honestly until a few years ago because like posting pictures on Facebook. For example, I'm in the fitness industry, right? So I compete. So there are a lot of photographs out there of me and some of them I'm wearing a bikini, you know? And my father was like, “You know, I love you but I can't see this.” So he unfriended me on Facebook because he was like, “I can't see this,” right? Like, “This is not OK for me, as a Muslim man.”
It was it was it was a lot of pulling teeth, honestly. So my dad, I think, he started really kind of trying to understand me in the last few years. I asked him if he would send me a paragraph for like each phase of his life, or a year of his life. I said he could write in Bosnian, whatever he wanted. So he has been writing these e-mails to me for the last year and a half, two years or something like that, and we're at the part where it's wartime and I'm probably about nine or ten years old. And I asked about his experience, you know, and I asked him, you know, “You could incorporate us if you wanted to, my mom and my sister and I,” but I want this to be like, “How was your life?” and, “How did you do?” so… I'm really looking forward to reading just his perspective and his years in America, because I think that – one - it's going to be important for my children to know where I come from and where their grandparents come from.
But recently, I think him writing these e-mails and like reflecting on his life … he would tell me like, “If I knew better, you know, back when you were younger, I would have put you in more extracurricular activities.” Like, “I would have sacrificed the money. I would have worked you know more so that you can have these things because I know that they're important now.” But, you know, and so he has said he's sorry, you know, for not being as chill as he could be [laughs] but now he is fairly accepting. As conservative as my dad is, he practices his religion and you know …In my house we have a rule now where we don't celebrate any religious holidays, we only celebrate birthdays and accomplishments and this way we keep the peace. You know my parents separate their separate religions and they practice their own things and my sister, neither one of us is, you know, religious, but we are very open-minded because of my parents. I'm really grateful to my parents for growing with me…
In this episode, you learned about making friends and putting down roots in a new culture. You also heard, along the way, about the negotiations this brings about inside families.
In the final episode of Points in Between, episode ten, we’ll explore what it means to be an American and how the people you’ve met in this podcast define themselves.
[Outro sounds: classroom voices, footsteps, door opening, exterior noises, including school bus]
Points In Between is a production of the California Global Education Project. See the Points In Between web page for additional information about each episode. You can find it at CISPISGLOBAL.org. Look under the Resources tab.