All immigrants go through a lot of different changes while sharing the same experience while moving away from their home to a whole new country. People move to the United States from all different parts of the world, whether its from Japan, India, Russia or even small countries like Armenia. I decided to do the interview about my mother because she has had a rough journey traveling from one country to another. My mother was born and raised in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. She loved her comfort zone since her whole family was in one city.
She had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and was working at my grandfather’s factory as an assistant. When my mother met my father, he decided that they should move together to Moscow, Russia. My mom had to leave behind her parents and her family, to start a family of her own. My mother gave birth to me in Moscow, when she was twenty three years old. My father’s side of the family moved to the United States right before I was born and due to some documents issues, they were not able to visit us for ten years.
In 2004, when I was just twelve years old, my grandfather that lived in Los Angeles was diagnosed with cancer and unfortunately had passed away. My father went to immediately buy a ticket for the next flight to Los Angeles to make it in time for his father’s funeral. A few days later, my father called my mother and let her know that we also need to buy tickets and come by him as soon as possible. It was so many years ago and since I was young, I don’t remember much of what and how things happened.
When I asked my mother what that felt like for her, she told me “I thought we would just go for a few weeks, it never crossed my mind that I would have to move to a whole new and different country once again. ” When we got here, my parents decided to officially move to the United States. My mother was forced to adapt to a completely different environment. When she had moved to Moscow from Yerevan, her experience was less overwhelming for her. This was due to the fact that she knew Russian her whole life and Russia was only two hours away from Armenia.
However, the move to Los Angeles, she says, was the hardest obstacle she had to face as a mother and as a wife. My mother did not know English, so that alone was scary for her to enter somewhere where she could not communicate with the people around her. Thankfully, there is a large Armenian community in Los Angeles and I believe that this has eased her transition at least in one way. Also, what was great is that community colleges actually offer ESL classes which are English classes that are offered to people for whom English is a second language.
My mother attended these classes, but she did not learn the language as well as she thought she would. One thing my mother told me during this interview, was why she was happy and felt safe to move here. During our last few years in Moscow, there was a lot of discrimination towards dark skinned people such as not only African Americans but Armenians, Persians, Georgians and anyone else that was Middle Eastern. My mother did not feel safe to walk around with me in the streets of Moscow, because there would be racist groups that would walk around and actually kill anyone who was dark skinned.
They had a slogan that said “Russia is for Russians”. She had a lot of fear to even get out of the house to go buy groceries because we would always hear about the latest attack on dark skinned people, many of the times it would Armenians. I believe, this experience of hers also relates to all the discrimination that happened here in America back in the days. A lot of Asian Americans went through a lot and so did African Americans, when the times were so rough in the United States. However, when we moved here, my mother told me during my interview with her that she is just pleased that she feels like her and our family are actually safe here.
Nobody should ever experience racism because at the end of the day, no matter what our nationality is, we still are human beings, children of God, who were put on earth to love one another and live a happy life in this world. 3She knows that there won’t be a racist groups that bald headed, wearing army boots, waiting around in the streets to murder dark skinned people. Both my mother and I, actually faced a situation back in Moscow when I was around six years old. We were driving with my father and my father cut someone off, and that car began to chase us and got in front of us to block our way.
My father got out of the car, and from the other car, those racist activists came out. There were two bald headed guys and I remember them going towards my dad. As it was for me, my mother told me that this was one of the worst days of her life. My father and the two men began to fight and my mother even tried to stop them. This was not something I wish I had seen or experienced. I can only imagine how afraid my mother was for my father. Eventually, the two men fled the scene. However, the trauma stayed with us forever. Now my mother, as well as our family, have been living in the United States for nine years.
My mother definitely feels a lot safer here and knows that there is immediate help and that as a citizen, she has certain rights in this country. However, it has not been easy for her to adapt to the fast pace life style that is in Los Angeles. My mother was a stay at home wife when we lived in Moscow. When we came here, my father opened up a business and had my mom help him out. Since she has never worked before, it was extremely difficult for my mom to work at my father’s restaurant. After we sold the business, my mother began to be a stay at home wife.
She says it was easy to be one in Moscow, because I was young and she could take care of me. However, now I am older and I do a lot of things without her help, so she has a hard time just staying at home. Since she does not know the language, she has not had the chance to find a good job for herself to make money and spend her time at. After interviewing her, I believe she has had acculturative stress. According to our textbook “… highly enculturated Asian Americans might experience severe acculturative stress when they attempt to balance the competing demands of two cultures.. . The symptoms include depression, which unfortunately my mother many times thinks that she has.
Though not Asian American, my mother has had a difficult time balancing the two cultures. Psychologically, this whole experience has worn her out to say the least. As soon as she got adapted to the lifestyle in Moscow, she had to move away once again. This has left her feeling even a bit confused, since she doesn’t feel like she belongs here. Since she has not been succeeding, she told me that she feels disappointed in herself because when she was younger she did so well in school.
She took the transition very hard. I believe as times passes, hopefully sometime soon, she will find herself in this country. While interviewing her, she told me that what makes her the happiest was that I was able to grow up in a country that offered so many opportunities for me. She believes that the move was mostly for my future and not for her and my fathers. When I heard that, it really touched my heart. It is true when they say “Everything happens for a reason”. If my father hadn’t passed away, then we would never move here.
In a way, it was his blessing and something he always wanted for us to be closer to him. I could not be more thankful to my parents for sacrificing their lives back home and making a whole new one just for me to have a good future. My mother’s experience with Asians began here in Los Angeles. Whenever we opened our business, it was right next to a Thai restaurant. Both of my parents became really close to the family that owned and worked at the business. My mother says that they were very sweet and genuine.
Whenever something was needed, they were the first to help out and she really appreciated that about them and was also there for them. She says it was bittersweet whenever my parents had to close the business and not see the Thai family as much as they used to. However, both of my parents still visit them from time to time. Whether Asian Americans or Armenians, immigrating to a whole new and different place than one’s own can be life changing and difficult. I believe it’s most difficult for anyone that immigrated here and was around the age of twenty five and up.
Because for all the children, including me, that immigrated, learning the language and adapting to all the new surroundings is much easier because we are young enough to do so. Our parents sacrificed a lot for us to all have great futures and many opportunities to benefit from, though they may not live such a happy life. There are so many immigrants who left behind business and their education to come to America and seek the opportunities it has to offer for them and their families. I know I personally will do everything in my power to make my parents proud and do everything I can to take care of them once I am able to.