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Beyond the Borders

Abstract: This paper explored the ideas of another individual of a different cultural background. The respective student interviewed a person of their choice on a topic of their choice and compared the interviewee’s views with their own. The paper included sensory details as an effort to create a visual representation of the interview for the reader. 

The current United States president, Donald Trump, has implemented stricter immigration and migration laws that would “make America great again.” New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world and Brooklyn alone houses approximately 3.1 million immigrants. On a more personalized and local level, myself along with majority of the individuals I associate and interact with have some relations to immigrants. I had the opportunity to interview one of my best friends who is a prime example of a melting pot. For the purpose of this assignment, she will be classified as Debra. Debra currently resides in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City, where she was born and raised. Her family, however, originates from Jamaica and St. Vincent and she is the child of two immigrant parents. Debra has close associations with my family as well, who originates from the country of Guyana, South America; adding to her perception of immigrants. During my friendship with Debra, we discussed topics surrounding immigration but never took the time to anatomize our own feelings on the subject together. As I interviewed Debra, I gave her the space to convey her thoughts on the subject. 

Considering the dynamics of our friendship, I chose to create an informal atmosphere to instill a sense of amenity. I went into the interview with an open mind since Debra is not a firsthand immigrant. I started out the interview as if we were on a talk show— just because that’s what we do. The first question stated, “Have you ever visited the countries of your parents? If yes, how was your experience?” Debra took a quick minute to retrieve the memories of her trip to her father’s country, St Vincent. Her body started to ease. I could tell she was a little nervous for the content of the questions but relaxed as she heard this question. She loosened her eyebrows and began to stare into the street as she responded. She explained how her experience in St Vincent altered her perspective on life. Her response ended with “I got to understand more about their culture. And when I came back, when I came back to America from the trip, I was able to see the difference between certain things— how they lived and all that.”

One of her responses caught me off-guard. I asked Debra if she had the power to choose would she be born outside of the United States. I anticipated her initial response but the answer to my follow up question surprised me. She would rather be born in Canada than a caribbean country. Our whole lives we have been exposed to the caribbean culture. We grew up having pride in our roots and our culture. Her answer slightly threw my off, in the sense that it somewhat alters her identity. 

One of my last questions to Debra was about the struggles she has seen her parents encounter due to the fact that they were immigrants. In a portion of her response, she spoke about accents and how the Caribbean accents her parents have put them at a disadvantage for success. I couldn’t help but recall my own experiences with having a Caribbean accent. When I first started school in the United States, I had just migrated from Guyana, so my accent was what people consider “thick”.  I was bullied for three years because I didn’t speak “American” and because I used different terminologies; similar to where Debra said, “ just hearing him speak about it, just shows that people do look at you and judge you based on how you speak, just because you don’t “speak american” or speak like you’re from here .” 

Overall, I’ve learned a lot about Debra’s views on immigration. As an immigrant myself, it’s reassuring to know that my presence and the presence of other immigrants contribute to the essence and flavor of the communities we live in. At a younger age, I despised being born outside of the United States for some of the same reasons Debra shared in the interview. Sometimes it seems as though the disadvantages are greater than the advantages; however, the older I get, the more I realize how being an immigrant is a blessing.