My Family's Journey to the American Creed

Posted by Estefano E. Alaska

For this project, I created a visual memoir with an accompanying narrative documenting the journey my dad and his family made to America. I am the first person outside of my family telling this story publicly. I am very excited to share this story with all of you.

Narrative for Visual Craft Component

Slide 1-

 Dr. Condoleezza Rice thoughtfully asserts “there is culture that comes out of struggle. Out of struggle comes ingenuity.” In this presentation, I am going to be discussing and referencing my tenets regarding my American creed. They are education, family, and the importance of being respectful to immigrants. I am excited to share this story with all of you because I am the first person in my family telling this story to non-family members.

Slide 2-

My family’s story starts in 1973 in Chile. The government was taken over by a communist regime. My dad’s family was living in a city called Valparaiso on the southern coast when the country was taken over. The military was killing or imprisoning everyone who was attending universities at the time or had been college educated. My dad’s family was able to get passports and tickets to get out of the country.

Slide 3-

My grandpa got captured at the airport and was taken to a firing squad and killed with 13 other people. Everyone else made it safely to Lisbon, Portugal and built a life there. This part of our family story reminds me of Eric Liu in American Creed. He is also a second generation immigrant from China. When Liu says “...you can really visualize had you been born in the other place...” this resonates with my family experience, too.

Slide 4

They moved from Portugal to the United States in 1980 and settled in Los Angeles. When they arrived, only three members of the family knew English, and because of that, they received a lot of criticism for not being able to speak. Whenever I hear this story I promise myself that I will always be respectful to immigrants, because I know how hard it is to learn a language and have the courage to try. In the film there is a section about Leila Janah and how her parents came from India and sacrificed so much for her.”I got lucky enough to be born into this country and that’s where the vast majority of my success and happiness come from…”-Leila Janah This quote speaks to me because it makes me think what my life would be like if my family didn’t leave Chile and where my life would be right now.

Slide 5-

All of my dad’s family did not make it to Los Angeles at the same time, but eventually they were all together. When everyone arrived, they decided it would be a good idea to continue their education. Since education is really important to my family, it really reminded me of Deidre Levett, the principal in the documentary. Ms. Levett, just like my family thinks that education is important to succeed in modern day day life.

My family epitomizes Dr. Condoleezza Rice’s assertion that we “can come from humble circumstances”; we can do great things.

Slide 6-

Last summer when I was in Europe, I went on a side trip by myself to Lisbon and I saw where my dad and his family lived in Portugal. It impacted immensely because I got to see my family’s second home after their first one was taken from them. It showed me that even though we go through hardships and turmoil, we can still end up living a bountiful and happy life.

Slide 7-

The topics discussed in the film connect to my life because they show me that just because society sometimes pressures individuals in terms of what their dreams should be, we can make our own path and pursue our own ideals. I also like how the documentary also objectively shows so many different versions of people’s American creed. In Dr. Condoleezza Rice’s insightful words, ”in America it doesn’t matter where you came from, it matters where you’re going.”

Slide 8-

And this is why it is important to remember the sacrifices others have made for us. Having freedom is something that we should all be thankful for. America is a country where we can come in and find hope, love, family, and patriotism and we should always remember that because we should be united not separated. My American creed is to value education and critical thinking, to always respect immigrants, and to keep in mind the sacrifices my family has made for me. With these tenets in mind, along with Dr. David M. Kennedy, I affirm that America really is "the land of absolutely unlimited opportunity.”

Published on Aug 9, 2018
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Writing Our Future: American Creed is part of the National Writing Project’s family of youth publishing projects, all gathered under the Writing Our Future initiative.

Writing Our Future projects are designed by educators for educators and the young people they work with. Intended for use in schools, libraries, and other educational settings. All projects are COPPA compliant and educator-managed. NWP is committed to supporting young people’s writing and civic participation by providing a safe and supportive environment for youth writing, media creation, sharing, and publishing.