Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Article #293 Culture Shock

              I wonder how many of us consider the culture shock involved for our ancestors who immigrated from other countries to America. First of all was the language barrier, if they didn’t speak English. Then other adjustments had to be made to a different lifestyle and customs in a new homeland. Perhaps your grandparents were farmers from Europe who ended up in one of America’s big cities like NYC or Philadelphia trying to find employment in order to afford to travel to other states where free land could be had for homesteading––working and living on the land for a period of time. What culture shock did they experience? Or maybe your grandparents were well to do immigrants that followed the call to immigrate to America for religious freedom and had to leave their lands, wealth and accumulated goods behind to start over in a humble log cabin in the west.
             Even modern day immigrants to America have to make adjustments. Dina Fife now living in St. George is from Brazil-her country of birth explains her challenges: I was born into a poor family in the Brazilian jungle near Bahia. My mother was married at age 12 and had 18 children though 6 of them died young. My father was a farmer and occasionally worked in  nearby cities. He died when I was young. There were no opportunities for schooling where I lived. When I was older, I moved to Brasilia-the capitol of Brazil where I studied and attended college. I worked for 30 years in education and administration. When I retired, I came to America to visit friends and decided to try to stay here. With only a tourist visa, it took some work to accomplish that. Luckily, I met Duwayne Fife through an online dating service. He lived in Twin Falls, Idaho and decided to travel to Mesa, Arizona to meet me. We were married and five years later I became an official citizen of America.
How is this country different than my homeland? There are more opportunities here for education, less social upheavals, more jobs and safety in the community. The most difficult problem is learning to speak English. In Brazil, everyone speaks Portuguese, but here few do. I have been able to take some ESL classes locally and hope to study more English at DSU. I love my new country and all the possibilities there are for me. 

NEXT TIME: Blending Cultures-Would love to have any of my blog readers send me their ancestor's stories to publish in my weekly column LOOKING BACK... or in my blog.


Jean said...

A friend from England will visit us for two weeks in June. I've wondered about the culture shock she'll experience. It's her first trip to the U.S.

Kay said...

I can just imagine how difficult it had to be for so many of the immigrants coming into Hawaii. Luckily, there were others that spoke the same language, but it was so different from everything they knew.