by Zaina Salem
For our August issue, Zaina Salem interviewed four children of new Americans about what their experience is like in this country. Check out their thoughts below!
I’m really proud of what my family has been able to accomplish in the states and just to be against all odds. That’s been my motivation. Many of my friends who are American citizens who have complete freedom and rights in this country don’t even take advantage of what they have. Coming here to this country and being on DACA and not have the privileges that most Americans have but still graduate college, be thriving, happy, and part of a successful family business….It makes me proud that I am an immigrant so I can represent underprivileged people or underrepresented people and kind of be the voice for those who are struggling.
Sometimes people have come to my restaurant and make very ignorant comments that weren’t directed toward me but disrespected my background. And I would stand up against it. I think it’s just the human condition. We’ve seen it thought our history —people just hate each other for the dumbest reasons. But the more that we can talk and share love and open-mindedness —I think we can make a difference.
I feel like being a child of an immigrant is the best thing ever. I get the best of both worlds. On one side, I get to experience the American culture. On the other, I get to experience the Chinese culture. It affords me the privilege of having an opened mind and to different ideas. At the same time, I hated being a child of Chinese descent. I was bullied so harshly when I was in school. Everyone made fun of me for being Chinese. They made fun of my eyes, called me derogatory terms. It made my childhood horrible and I always felt so different from everyone. I was constantly reminded that I wasn’t American enough to be American.
The sheer idea of being anti-immigrant in America is seemingly silly and hypocritical. Unless you are Native American, you too came from a lineage of immigrants. That’s what makes America so beautiful; the wide array of cultures, languages, faiths and unique physical differences among its citizens. It’s not called a “Melting Pot” for nothing. And despite all the differences, we are all human beings who have so much more in common. I encourage anyone and everyone to step outside of their comfort and try to meet/get to know someone different from themselves. You’ll see that there is nothing to be fearful of/hateful towards. As an immigrant, American citizen, professional therapist, and human who does this every single day, I will leave you with this: “There isn’t a person you wouldn’t love if you could read their story.”
Suri Patel (pictured above)
In a way, all the bullying and negative things me and my family have faced as immigrants only made us stronger. Stronger to help ourselves and our family. It helped us shape who we are now as people. I should be valued as much as any white person. I should be able to practice all of my rights and not be subjected just because I’m a little different. Everyone’s views of the world matter —not one way is the right way. I want to hope that as we move forward there isn’t such hatred for a race or religion or belief. I want people to accept that no matter where, who, or what you come from it’s looked at as a new way to see the world.