By Thurman Truong ‘16 and Jesus Patino ‘16
America is known as the melting pot of the world, a country that is diverse in both tradition and culture. Every individual in the United States his own story to tell, particularly the ones who were not born here.
An estimated 13 percent of the U.S. population, 40.8 million, consists of immigrants, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012.
Here at Midwood High School, students also have their own stories to tell, some of which are about their native country, others about their parents’ native country.
In a survey of more than 200 students, it was discovered that 80% of students were born in the United States, and 84% have parents that were born in their native countries outside the states. Of these adolescents, almost half resided here for more than 20 years. These native countries include Jamaica, China, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Poland, Panama, Albania, Cambodia, Trinidad, Grenada, Egypt, Haiti, Uzbekistan, Russia, Philippines, Guyana, England, Ukraine, Italy, Turkey, Barbados, Venezuela, Mexico, Azerbaijan and Colombia.
This diversity is not only seen in schools, but is also prominent in communities across the nation, particularly urban areas. Not surprisingly, this wasn’t the case in native countries.
“The community I lived in was relatively small,” said Ken Zhu ’15. “There were no foreigners in that suburban community, so moving here from China was definitely the most drastic change I’ve ever encountered.”
Motivation to immigrate to America varied, most of them consisting of the promise of economic success in this “land of opportunity”, religious freedom, and the escape of domestic persecution and poverty. The promise of opportunity and work drew people to the country, amassing a population of 9.7 million in just 1970.
“My mom wanted to have a better job and for me to have a better education,” said Juan Pablo ’17. “Living conditions here were supposedly better and she wanted to pay off her debts.”
Even so, this land with streets “paved with gold” was not always without struggle.
“We were financially-settled back home, and rarely did we have to be hassled with money problems,” Zhu added. “But when my parents came here, we came across various money problems before there was actually room to breathe.”
There were also students that said the U.S was nothing like what they had imagined. They were disappointed when reality struck.
“ There is too much racism,” said Juan Pablo, “ Not only that, but you also spend more than you need to.”
For many of the immigrants who came to the U.S for economic reasons, it seems that they spend more than what they earn is a great disappointment. Most countries from which they arrive don’t have as strong of an economy as the United States and this it what persuades them the most to come here.
In fact, immigrants have been willing to take the low-wage jobs that many native-born American don’t want.
According to the article Jobs Americans Won’t Do? A Detailed Look at Immigrant Employment by Occupation, “There are 93 occupations in which 20 percent or more of workers are immigrants. These high-immigrant occupations are primarily, but not exclusively, lower-wage jobs that require relatively little formal education.”
People come from all over the world, taking long journeys, not knowing what they’re going to find once they reach their destination. However, they take the risk, hoping what they find will be a better future.