My Internship at Margaret W. Wong & Associates
by Rebecca Barnard At my internship at Margaret W. Wong & Associates, I interviewed coworkers who are foreign born, coming from countries including China, Poland, India, Bosnia, and Mexico. Some of the people have lived in the United States for decades, while others have only been here for a few years. Naturally some people were willing to provide more information than others during their interviews. Many were reluctant to tell their stories or did not want their stories to be made public. Nevertheless, the interviews offered an introduction to people’s stories of why they came to the United States, their memories of their birth countries, and their impressions of the United States. Depending on the age of the interviewee when they came to the United States, many people conveyed vivid memories of their home countries, while others told of more vague and distant memories. They frequently spoke of their friends and family that remain in their birth country. And predictably, they spoke of their birth country’s food, a dominant part of any country’s culture.
The questions regarding the culture and policies of the United States gave insight into how foreign born citizens and residents feel about United States life and the American cultural activities they enjoy taking part in. People spoke of enjoying American holidays, sports, and museums. And they spoke critically and complimentary of the education system and healthcare system in the United States. While these answers were for the most part unsurprising, it is noteworthy that one of the most common answers to a question regarding favorite American cultural events was 4th of July, the holiday dedicated to the celebration of the United States’ independence, and hence the celebration of America.
There are many things to love about the 4th of July: the day off of work, fireworks, the warm weather, parades, and the barbecues with friends and family, but the holiday is meant to celebrate the United States. Do foreign born residents and citizens enjoy the holiday because of the celebration that surrounds it or does their enjoyment stem partly from their excitement about being in the United States? It is likely that foreign born citizens and residents may appreciate the significance of the holiday more than American born citizens because of a greater appreciation for living in America. Of course, this very much depends on the person.
Every foreign born person’s experience and perspective are different. The interviews I conducted only offer a glimpse into the lives of fifteen foreign born citizens or residents, who are a part of the much larger group of the millions of foreign born people currently living in the United States.