An Immigrant Tale

Spring '15

I am writing to chronicle the tale of my parents’ immigration to our home today in the United States. As the son of two immigrants, I feel that it is important to understand my roots. The plight of the immigrant family is both a tale of sadness and new beginnings. My family’s experience was no exception. 

    My parents emigrated from Ohio to Pennsylvania in 1970 and the beginning was really hard for them because of the cultural differences. I remember my mother telling me that it was tough because they were always fans of the Cleveland Browns but everyone in western Pennsylvania  loved the Steelers. But still, my parents persevered.

    They had always dreamt of owning a two-story house in western Pennsylvania with a white picket fence around it, so they worked really hard, hired a contractor, and built one using the blueprints from their previous two-story, white-picket fence house in Ohio. I really admire them for that. They wanted a better life for me.

    My father always used to tell me as a kid, “Son, you can do anything you want if you just work hard enough.” I never really knew what he meant until now. Social mobility is so much easier here. My father went from being a lowly elementary school teacher back in Ohio to being a well-respected middle school teacher here in western Pennsylvania. He never believed that was possible even in his wildest dreams.

    I was fortunate enough to visit Ohio last summer to see the village where my parents grew up and it moved me to tears. Their house only had 4 bedrooms, no breakfast nook, and linoleum tiles used as a makeshift floor.  It really made me appreciate all those things I have now that I take for granted. I feel so blessed to be from a family that truly exemplifies the American dream.

    There’s a reason that this place is called the melting pot. Because whether you are from Ohio or western Pennsylvania, there’s always a franchised chain of fondue-based restaurants willing to serve you.