For my crossing the valley page I interviewed Oscar B, who came to the United States from El Salvador when he was 5 years old. His Uncle Oscar, was already living in the U.S. when he was able to get Oscar's father a green card so that he could come over to the U.S. legally. A few years following, he was able to save up enough money and began gradually bringing the rest of his family to the United States.
As with most other migrants who leave their home countries for more stable countries, Oscar's family did so as well. At the time of their departure from El Salvador there has been a 12 year civil war in their country. In addition to the civil war El Salvador is a third world country has shown little promise for a better future.
The next question that I asked Oscar was "what were your expectations when you came to the U.S.? Oscar replied "at 5 or 6 years of age you really don't have any cares in the world, I already felt the extent of the poverty that exists in El Salvador to the point that I almost knew that anything would be better."
When I asked Oscar about how his trip was from El Salvador to the United States, he replied "that his family was filled with anxiety, not knowing what to expect or whether I would like it or not. Traveling to the U.S. there were really no problems with the exception that there was a language barrier to overcome in the airports; at the time no one that came with me knew any English."
Throughout our studies in this class the most hardest thing about moving to another country is fitting in with the rest of the citizens. Since Oscar was so young it wasn't as tough as a task to overcome as it would be for someone older than he. His roots were not sewn in deep in El Salvador, so he was easily impressionable.
As mentioned earlier Oscar did not speak a single word of English when he came to the U.S.. Since he was so young it was easy for him to pick up the English language. When he started school Oscar was thrown immediately into a classroom with no one who spoke Spanish. Since he was so young and having a high retention level that within a few months he was speaking English. He said it wasn't perfect, but that he could communicate with others.
When Oscar and his family moved to the U.S. they lived in an area in New Jersey that had a wide variety of cultures and ethnicities, so that there wasn't much discrimination or any pre-judgements made towards him. Overall, the treatment he has received has been mainly positive.
When asked what were some of his positive experiences in the U.S. Oscar replied "the doors that have been opened up to me; so far I have been able to play soccer and get to such a level where at one point I have a full-ride scholarship to play division I soccer." When asked what were some negative experiences he replied "the level of ignorance that I have been exposed to be people who don't understand differences to points where I have been discriminated against or singled out just because I am not white." He said that singling out has happened only once or twice but that it tends to stick out.
When he left his home and everything he has come to know I asked Oscar how do you perpetuate you heritage and cultural beliefs while living in a foreign country? How do you and your family keep it alive?
Oscar replied "that in my family I am the first generation here in the U.S., I know the struggles that we have gone through, so in order for me to forget my heritage and cultural beliefs I would be losing a big part of myself. Knowing this makes it easy to hold onto what my parents have taught me. In order to keep it alive, we try to keep a close family bond; we associate with each other a lot, and also try to go back to El Salvador on a pretty regular basis."
Oscar and I had already known each other for almost a year now. We met last fall in our finance class here at Arizona State University. This semester we had a global business class with each other and when this assignment came up I had remembered that he was from a country in Central America, but I couldn't remember which on. For privacy reasons Oscar didn't want his picture posted on the website.