SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2007        Personal Memory Ethnographies

Anda Neagoe

A new beginning 

       In 2005 I and my family decided to try our luck and sign up for the US visa lottery. We never expected to win the chance to immigrate to United States. In the summer of 2006 came the biggest surprise of our life. We received an envelope from the lottery stating that we had been selected for the program of immigrating to United States and becoming permanent residents in America. We immigrated to United States, more precisely to Phoenix, Arizona on July 7, 2006.  What a change, what a challenge, and a great opportunity this event has brought to our lives. And what is more important is that it helped me learn about the difference that exists between the United States as a nation and the Romanian nation, where I have my roots, my origin.

The incident that I am going to talk about, took place on one of Phoenix streets, at the end of July, 2006. I and my parents bought a car and being new in the city, we wanted to drive around Phoenix, exploring new surroundings. I remember we came across Bell Road and all of a sudden our car started to make strange noises. A sharp smell came from cars’ motor and we found ourselves in an insecure location, which made the incident more interesting. Both I and my parents began staring at each other and a question rose in our mind:”Who are we going to call for help?” Being in Phoenix at that time for only 3 weeks, we had absolutely nobody to ask for help. While we were still figuring out what to do we noticed that a car pulled over and a man got out of his car; he was walking towards us. As soon as he got to us, this man who introduced himself as Jeff, asked me and my parents what problems the car has and if there is something that he can do in order to help us fix the car. His proper knowledge and enthusiastic attitude totally helped us in our acute desire to fix the car. 

        Jeff’s blessed help and his enthusiastic attitude in helping us represent two significant items that were important to me and my parents at that time and also continue to be important now.

      The fact that Jeff had pulled over to help us out in the car incident meant a lot to me and my parents. His help came like a blessing in our lives. He hadn’t even met us or known us before the incident, but this wasn’t an impediment in offering us his help. When I heard the stiff words coming from Jeff’s mouth, I was amazed to see that a person who had nothing to do with us and who had never seen us before would be willing to help me and my family. The reason why I was so surprised can be explained by the country where I was born; in Romania you don’t encounter this kind of situation. If your car happens to get broken, don’t expect somebody to pull over and give you a helpful hand. Just the thought of pulling over and asking us politely what can he do for us has impressed me and my parents.

       This man’s enthusiastic attitude has played a great role in my life and also in my parents’ lives. Even if we were concerned and a little bit sad about what happened with the car, especially with it being a new acquisition, Jeff’s joyful attitude succeeded to drive away all negative thoughts that had accumulated in our minds. His positive attitude and the enthusiasm with which he had treated us mattered significantly at that time and it still continues to matter. Every time that we remember his kind attitude in helping us, we like to think that there are many people in this world like him.

       It is my belief that Jeff had the same kind feelings towards us as we had for him.

Anda and her parents came in that night of July, 2006 like a totally new experience to me with a different cultural background. I remember the moment when we had the first conversation. I asked her where she came from, because of her accent. When she told me that she was Romanian and that they were new to Arizona, I wanted to know more about her culture and the country that she came from.

     I was so captivated by what Anda and her parents were telling me about their nation where they had their roots that I didn’t wanted them to ever stop.  As soon as Anda was done with explaining to me the differences between the U.S. and Romania, I said to her and her parents that I was glad to pull over and help them in the car breakdown.

     I mentioned to these people that what can make a huge impact an the settlement to a new country, a new city is to see that people are willing to help and to be kind in all sorts of situations. These are my feelings towards this experience and this is my perspective of seeing the incident that got me involved in it.

      I believe the incident I experienced alongside Anda and her parents was an interesting way to meet new people coming from a different culture. I got the chance to exchange beliefs with people that had just immigrated to United States and at the same time I felt that I was now part of their settlement to the U.S. 

        The incident that July evening made me realize that there are people in this world, who may come from a different nation but can play a great role in one’s life; Jeff is certainly one of them. The fact that he pulled over to help us, strangers to him, meant a lot for both me and my parents. Another example which I could correlate with the car breakdown is the experience of finding a job. The assistant manager position at an apartment complex I gained by the good graces of a person who helped me achieve this job despite having no previous experience. This was another person that made my settlement easier to the US. 

              By winning the visa lottery, I and my family have been shaped continually by transnational borders. Coming to United States, a completely different nation in comparison to Romanian nation, we had been put in the situation of facing an incident that marked our existence. Webster’s dictionary definition clarifies the meaning of incident which is something dependent on or subordinate to something else of greater or principal importance. The car incident has a great significance to my life as it was an experience that opened my eyes about how kindly and helpful the American treated me and my parents. The incident that occurred to me in that evening is important and it will continue to be significant to my life. What makes it so meaningful to me and to my parents? The root of the problem goes back 17 years ago, to 1990 when the first diversity immigrant visa was added to the Immigration and Nationality Act of Romania. From that period Romania, my native country had started the visa lotteries which offered people opportunities to work in different countries in legal conditions. The US had offered this lottery program to Romania, allocating a number of seats for Romanian people to immigrate.  

        As an immigrant, I saw the impact that this incident played in my settlement to the US and also the emotional importance for opening my eyes on the differences of two nations: Romania and the United States. The incident with the car and meeting Jeff in that evening represents parts of my settlement to Phoenix, Arizona. It is my belief that everything in life happens for a reason. If we had never been selected for the US visa program, we would have never had this incident happen to us, nor the chance to met Jeff.

Romania and US timeline of events

Economic Boom     
Racial Discrimination
Nazism World War II
Authoritarian General
Antonescu took control
Of Romania.

Romania Communist 
Government began to
assert independence from the Sovietic Union. Civil Rights, Vietnam War
Debate over race

Nicolae Ceausescu
becomes head of state.
Civil Rights, Decade of Protest

A governing coalition
National Salvation Front installed and proclaimed the restoration of democracy and freedom. The collapse of Communism and a mid-December protest in Timisoara against the Ceausecu regime.
Beginning/End of Affirmative Action

The diversity Immigrant visa  was added to the  Immigration & Nationality Act by the Immigration Act. Debate over race,
intelligence redux.
Racial Profiling

NSF became the Party of Social Democracy of Romania

The Social Democratic Party led by Ion Iliescu and Adrian Nastase had another turn in power. Romania's record of
corruption and poor justice worsened. NAFTA. Anti-Immigrant Movement

Traian Basescu elected president. A new coalition was formed
with the Democratic Union of Hungarians and the  Romanian Humanist Party

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