Q: What country are you from? How long have you been here?
A: I am from the Dominican Republic and I been living in Allentown, PA for 13 years
Q: What is the Dominican Republic like?
A: It’s very tropical and warm, and it’s like being on a vacation all the time. Where I lived it was small, and country like. I lived with a lot of my family members, and that’s different to living in the US because once we all came, we were not as united as we were.
Q: Do you have family here?
A: Yes, I live with my parents and my brother, also all I have other family members who live in other states as well.
Q: What do you do (go to school, work, etc.?)
A: I go to school, I am a senior at Penn State University, and I also work at Loft, which is a retail store, and I go to church a lot.
Q: How involved are you in church?
A: My father is a pastor, and I play the piano and sing in the choir so you can say im very involved.
Q: How did you end up in the Lehigh Valley (or another location in Pennsylvania)?
A: When I first came to the United States I first went to Brooklyn, New York and was there with my aunt for about a month then my father’s sister told mt dad about Allentown, and he was very excited to see it so we came to visit, my parents really liked it and we ended up moving here.
Q: How old were you when you left your country?
A: I was 8 years old. Starting the first grade
Q: Why did you leave? What was your journey like? Who did you come with? Were you scared, excited… how did you feel about it?
A: My parents lived in the united states, they were here working while my younger brother and I were in the D.R with my grandma. So, I think they did it to have a better future for our family and to no longer be separated. I came with my younger brother; he was 7 at the time. My dad came from the U.S and picked us up. I was very excited more than anything because I was going to see my mom which I didn’t see in a long time, I was a little scared, but I was with my brother and my dad, so I wasn’t as nervous.
Q: What was your first impression when you arrived? Did anything surprise you? What was your biggest challenge?
A: Everything was so different, I lived in a very small town where everyone knew each other, and it was not city like at all then I came here and everything was so advanced, I was so mesmerized. I truly enjoyed my journey, and was very happy to be here, my biggest challenge was not knowing the language. Everyone around me spoke English and I was lost all the time but with the help of many of my teachers in elementary school I was able to learn and be where I am today.
Q: How did you learn English?
A: I was enrolled in this school program called ESOL in the fourth grade while I attend Jackson elementary school. I had this teacher named MRS. Obrien and I spent the whole day in her class. It was nice because I was with other students that I could relate to since they didn’t speak the English language either, so we were all there to learn and help each other, and without noticing I was able to understand other students and speak the language.
Q: Have you lived in any other places?
A: I have not lived in any other place
Q: Do you have family in your country of origin? Are you in contact with them? Have you visited? (How do you stay in contact?)
A: I have other family members, but I am not as close to them. The only person I stay in touch with is my grandma, I am very close to her and I wish she lived closer so we can spend more time together, and unfortunately, I have not visited. I hope to travel back to my country next summer.
Q: What do you miss from your country of origin? Would you ever go back there to live?
A: I miss the weather, is was nice living there, it was like summer all year long, I also miss my grandma, she comes to visit every so often but it’s not the same since I don’t live with her anymore. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to live; it’ll be hard for me to adjust. I would go for vacation but that’s all
Q: How is life here different from where you came from?
A: Everything is faster here; the money is different even education and school. In the Dominican Republic school Is only for 5 hours and is required for everyone to go home at 12PM whether you are at school or work to eat with your family. So, you can say is very family oriented. Which is very nice, and everyone had recess despite the grade you were in.
Q: Are you able to do things here that you did in your home country, i.e.., foods, special holidays, customs?
A: I personally believe that I can do everything I did in my country here; my family has done a good job of keeping the traditions the same and not losing our culture.
Q: What do you like and dislike about living in Pennsylvania?
A: I love Pennsylvania and it has made me the person I am today, there is nothing I would change, I went to school here, high school and now I’m close to graduating college and it was all because of this town. There is nothing I would change.
Q: What makes you feel welcome here? What makes you feel unwelcome (if anything)?
A: I believe that when I first came here, although I didn’t know the language I was accepted and welcomed, I was never made fun of and instead other kids teasing me they helped me out as well as teachers.