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Finding A New Home

Why would someone leave his or her home and culture behind to start a new life in an unknown backdrop? Some people come to work and start a better life while others leave their home due to persecution. Some have even come to America against their own will. Either way any one who comes to this country faces problems but eventually finds a home in America. Nicholas Gage in “The Teacher Who Changed My Life” came to America due to political persecution. Charles Ball in “Slave Ship” was brought over in a terrible journey as a slave. Miguel Torres in “Crossing the Border” leaves a poverty stricken country to make more money in a mushroom plant in America. Bharati Mukherjee in “Dreaming Big Dreams” leaves India to start a life separate from the ideals of her strict and wealthy family. My father Bob Smith, who was interviewed for this paper, came to America from England to escape a poverty striking country. All of the people mentioned share a common story of struggle. In the end they all want a better life.

Nicholas Gage in “The Teacher Who Changed My Life” gives us an idea of the sacrifices one makes to escape persecution in their native country. Gage was born in Greece and lived there until the age of nine. Communist Guerillas while trying to escape out of Greece killed his mother. Gage traveled through mountains and mine fields only to be sent to a refugee camp and told of his mother’s execution. Gage tells how he recounted this story in an essay for his school teacher Miss Hurd “I kept writing… telling how the Communist guerrillas occupied our village, took our home and food, how my mother started planning our escape…”(04-05) Gage ended up becoming an

accomplished writer and having many of his works published. He recorded the entire story in a book called Eleni after his mother. This book had a tremendous impact on America as Gage tells us; “ President Regan, in his television address after the summit meeting with Gorbachev, told the nation that Eleni Gatzoyiannis’ dying cry, “My children” had helped inspire him to seek an arms agreement…”(06) Although Gage suffered great hardships to get to this country he still made a name for himself in America. Gage has had a successful writing career that has brought him acclaim and satisfaction as an immigrant.

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Like Gage, Bharati Mukherjee in “Dreaming Big Dreams” tells a story of rebellion against her family’s beliefs and finding a home in America. Mukherjee did not come here to avoid political or religious persecution; instead she came to find a new life for herself out side of her family’s morals. Mukherjee grew up in India with a high-class family. Her family had money and were considered high class. So why did Mukherjee want to come to America? Females face different hardships in India than they do in America. An arranged marriage is one example of this. She wanted to live her own life and make her own decisions; “I came out of a continent of cynicism and irony and despair. A traditional society where you are what you are, according to the family you were born into, the caste, the class, the gender”. (Moyers ) Mukherjee is an accomplished writer who has written and published several books. She loves America and the culture she has found here “ I think that we are creating American culture, daily. It is not something static”. The idea of America and what it can be is why Mukherjee loves this country so much. She has accomplished many goals as an American.

Relating to the story of Mukherjee, Miguel Torres in “Crossing the Border” tells his story of leaving Mexico and the struggle many Mexicans still face today of getting into America. Although Torres did not have as long a journey as other immigrants faced, he still suffered a great deal to reach the border. Torres had no way to get papers to come to America so he had to find a way to get here illegally. Torres paid three hundred dollars for a man called a coyote to sneak him into America. He was caught by immigration and sent back to Mexico “…one day the immigration showed up, and I ran and hid in a river that was next to the orchard. The man saw me and he questioned me, and he saw I didn’t have any papers. So they put me in a van and took me … all the way to Mexicali near the border”(84). The next time Torres came over he did not get a ride the whole way, “We came through the mountains this time. We had to walk through a train tunnel. It lasted about three hours, through the tunnel.”(84) Torres was caught three times in one year. Those three trips cost him one thousand dollars. Torres goes on to tell how he hopes to eventually marry an American girl, for this is the only way he can get the papers he needs to become an American citizen. One can only hope that Torres fulfilled his goal and is now an American citizen, but either way it is an accomplishment to even come here.

A story different from Torres is Charles Ball in “Slave Ship”. He tells of the terrible hardship an immigrant can have when brought forcibly to a new country. Ball was taken from his village in Africa along with twenty others and led up the river to a slave ship filled with hundreds of Africans to be sold as slaves in America. Ball tells of

the cruelty he suffered during the long journey on the ship, “… the place in which we were confined was so full that no one could lie down; and we were obliged to sit all the time, for the room was not high enough for us to stand.”(80) Ball also tells a horrible fact of the slave trade itself, “ … many of us died every day; but the number brought on board greatly exceeded those who died…”(80) Ball was sold as a slave in the port of Charleston and headed north to his master’s plantation. Ball eventually escaped and told his stories to the abolitionists in the north. His memoirs were recorded and published in 1854. Ball’s accounts had a great impact on the public support for the emancipation of slaves. Ball endured a life no one should have to endure; but in the end he took all the bad things and made them into a tool to help others that were enslaved in America.

Like the other immigrants, my father, Bob Smith, is my daily inspiration in life. Smith came here from England in the 140’s. One of his goals was to pursue a singing scholarship he received from the Chicago Opera Company. Smith ended up in New York City where he sang for a number of years. He took a night job as a typist in the United Nations. Smith eventually stopped singing to take care of his family monetarily. With hard work and persistence Smith ended up the number one director of the pension fund at the U.N. . When asked how he accomplished so much, he responded, “A lot of it is luck. Being at the right place at the right time. Of coarse I worked hard to be where I am but a lot of it was luck.” My whole family has been taken care of very well by my father. This is very important to him. He told me; “ Take care of your family because they are the only ones that will be there for you no matter what.” I live everyday of my life hoping to be half as successful as my father. If I can do that, I think life will be very good to me.

All of the immigrants in this paper went through a lot to get to this country. Some came willingly and others with no choice, but when they reached America they all wanted a better life. Nicholas Gage fulfilled his goal of documenting the story of his mother’s death. Charles Ball accomplished his goal of becoming a free man and having a part in history as an influential writer. Miguel Torres found that even without being an American citizen you could still come to this country to try to find a new life, which is a goal in itself. Bharati Mukherjee separated herself from the culture she was born into and found a fully accomplished life in America. Angel Garcia has a family who loves him along with the success that any person would love to have. All of these people in their own unique way have come to this country as outsiders and are now accomplished in their own right. The story of an immigrant is one that is often told, but when one sees the success it is easy to know why people have come to love America so much.

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