America from an Immigrant's Perspective

For our American Creed project, we decided to interview our parents, who are immigrants, and showcase their ideas around what it is to be American.

By Vibha a. from Okemos High School in Michigan

 The following audio clip is based on the interviews. You can view these and the audio transcript down below. 

Michelle's Parent Interview:

What was your purpose of coming to America?

“I got married, and my husband was a MSU PhD student at the time.”

What did you expect?

“To learn English, the culture, and to blend in the society.”

Do you feel like you’ve achieved your American Dream?

“Yes, because my husband and I got a job and I have my own family. Now the US is my hometown.”

What do you think was the most significant event in your life (before and after immigrating)?

“Before was going to college, because that was very important and competitive, and it was what I aimed for. After was having my children and family.”

How is life different for you after moving to America?

“I lived in a city before, and now it’s more rural. The lifestyle is different now, since there are less traffic jams and pollution.”

Describe your childhood.

“I went to an art middle school and an art high school which is different from normal. Tutoring happened daily, so I was always focused on school. I had lots of opportunity to study new things, but everything was so competitive.”

What is your community like in ways of connecting with your culture?

“Going to a Korean church has given an opportunity to meet other Koreans, share food, and to talk with our own language. We often meet since we share many similarities.”

Vibha's Parent Interview:

What was your purpose of coming to America?

”I came to America to work here because I knew that there were better job opportunities and better living standards. I wanted to come to America because I knew it was a better place to raise my future family.”

What did you expect?

“I knew for sure it was a better way to be successful, and that if I worked hard in America it would pay off. I also expected it to be tough and difficult at first, but eventually I would find my way around and America would become my home.”

Do you feel like you’ve achieved your American Dream? What’s your definition of American?

”I feel like I have achieved my American dream by 1000%. My definition of American is doing what’s right and being successful. Also, owning a home and making a good living is part of my American dream.”

What do you think was the most significant event in your life (before and after immigrating)?

“The most significant event in my life before immigrating was definitely getting married. After immigrating the most significant event in my life was raising my family and being a good example for my children.”

How is life different for you after moving to America?

“Life is super. I have a good job, family and live in a good place that I can afford. I had some initial hardships with things such as finances, but now I am working towards being independant.”

Describing childhood

“I grew up in India working on the fields from a young age, and got an education while supporting my family at the same time. Our family made a living by farming, and we didn’t have much, but we got by. I went to college and got a degree, which allowed me to work here in the United States.”

What is your community like in ways of connecting with your culture?

“When we moved here we found people in our area from the same part of India as us, and we formed our own communities. We all connect together and speak in our own languages.” 

Audio Transcript:

America is a diverse place and is seen as a land of opportunity for everyone around the world.

Our own parents are a perfect example of this.

Michelle, what was is it like for your parents growing up?

Both my parents are from South Korea, so their big focus was on education. What about yours, Vibha?

My parents grew up in India. My dad grew up working on the fields and his family made a living by farming. They didn’t have much, but he focused on education because he knew that was what would make him successful for his future.

The following is based off an interview with our parents, as shown below.

Vibha, what was your parent’s purpose of coming to America?

My parents were the first ever in their family to leave India in hopes for better job opportunities in order to make a better living for their future family. They saw America as a great place to fulfill their dreams and start a new life. Michelle, what did your parents expect when they first immigrated to America.

My mom expected to learn English, the culture, and to blend into the society.

Do you see America more as a melting pot or a salad bowl?

I think it is more of a salad bowl because while we all live in the same country, we have our own individual and unique cultures to make ourselves stand out. If it was a melting pot, we would all blend in and have the same American dream. Vibha, do your parents think they have achieved their American dream?

Yes, my parents believe that they have achieved their American dream because they live a good and successful life, and made it possible for their children to do so. Owning a home was an important part of my dad’s American dream, and it came true once he was able to earn a good living here in America. He says he has achieved his American dream by 1000%.

For my parents, they also think their American dream has been achieved since they have their own jobs and family. They believe they have built a better life here, as my mom now thinks of the U.S. as her own hometown. What do you think your life would have been like if your parents had never made the choice to move to America?

I would’ve had a very different life, as my values and lifestyle would be different. My main focuses would’ve been on education, whereas here I can balance having a positive and happy life along with school.

I agree, that probably would have been the same for me. Even though you don’t live in India now, how do you stay connected with your culture now?

My family and I have found others who speak our native language and have formed a community. I really like being able to speak and connect with other people in two languages, because it reminds me of my culture and who I am. What about you?

It is same for our family, as our Korean church community allows us to gather and communicate with each other, and share food. It is easier for us to relate to each other since our situations are similar. It helps me keep in touch with the culture, especially because it has been awhile since I’ve actually been there.

In America, these similarities and differences are what help us connect to each other, even though we all have our own stories.

It is these things that bring us together as a country and as a nation.

Our values, heritage and opinions are what shape us as Americans. We get to choose who we want to be in America, and that is what makes it the country it is today.

Okemos High School

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