This is the story of an immigrant named Zulmira. She is a normal mother, wife, and friend. But what sets her apart is that she is an immigrant from Brazil. No, she wasn’t fleeing her country. Nor did she experience any exciting things in her journey to America. But Zulmira had to do something very brave that all immigrants needed to do: assimilate. Now, let’s hear her story in a short podcast call “New Generation.”
(Part of a 5B Immigrant Voices)
By Helen He
Anjali: Immigration is talked about on the news almost everyday, though pretty much the only things they talk about are undocumented immigrants or illegal immigrants and how they are untrustworthy and taking American’s jobs. That could be true for some immigrants, but we shouldn’t just generalize all immigrants are bad. America is made by immigrants and their children. They immigrated to create a better future for themselves and their families. Though something we never really hear about is how those immigrants have to overcome the many difficulties in order to have a stable life in America. Immigrating is much harder than you would expect. All the arrangements and preparations. Having to leave your family and prized possessions. Then when you finally arrive at America, having to settle down and blend in. Today, we are going to hear about a Brazilian immigrant and how she worked through those obstacles. Here is Helen with the story.
Helen: Thank you Anjali. Zulmira, a mom and wife, didn’t really come to America for safety, freedom, or things like that. Actually, it was just her job. Yes, there are many advantages to living in America, but if she didn’t receive the proposal, she probably would’ve stayed in Brazil. But coming here had advantages, and it was quite an experience with many ups and downs.
Zulmira: I decide to leave because I received a very good, uh, professional propose and I thought also that will be good also to provide to my daughter an experience to live abroad and also to have a different education. And those are the main reasons should be here.
Helen: There was nothing wrong with her life in Brazil. In fact, Zulmira likes Brazil and is fine with her life there.
Zulmira: Uh, my life in Brazil was pretty good, so I had a lot of friends around, and actually I was born there so it was my country. So it was pretty interesting, I grow up there and I had my daughter there. And it’s a great country as well.
Helen: But because of the proposal, the family packed up and waved goodbye.
Zulmira: I would say that my whole family’s there, so it was very hard to left them in another country and see them just once a year.
Helen: Though the process of coming to America was hard and difficult.
Zulmira: Uh, the process was so heavy and I had to take more than 20 interviews to be here. And uh, very professional people and immigration process. And since I was transferred due to the professional excuse, I need to provide to them many many reasons why they need to choose me and not an American person.
Helen: Settling down, getting to know everything, and blending in was harder.
Zulmira: I would say that the disadvantage is that you never know nothing about the new country, and you should learn in the real life. So even to buy a, box of milk, is heavy in the beginning of the, you know, all of this, transition because we are not familiar with the local culture and all of this thing.
Helen: Of course, blending in wasn’t their first concern. Once the family arrived, they busied themselves by settling down, which isn’t always a piece of cake.
Zulmira: So, my concern was to set up all of my family. And uh, schools and uh, a job for my husband. And, uh, it was a challenge but we all see this is a great opportunity.
Helen: After they settled down, they began to try to blend in. Trying to learn the “American ways.” That was not simple. There were many things that made them stand out, and made them seem different. Language, for example, is always something that sets immigrants apart from natives.
Zulmira: So, I think language is, uh, always a challenge for somebody that just came from another country. Sometimes you don’t know exactly that word, and then your mind just stop. You need to figure out how can you move forward. And I think language is always a challenge for everybody. And, uh, if I can say that the worst experience is related to this.
Helen: Despite the challenges, time passed and Zulmira and her family have settled down and are very happy and grateful to finally be living in America.
Zulmira: I’m, I’m very glad to be here and the American people are very welcome, at least with me and my family.
Helen: People have very different opinions on immigration. But in today’s news, people mostly talk about the problem of “too many immigrants” or “illegal immigration.” There are rarely immigration stories that talk about the difficulties of assimilation, even though it is one of the most important things immigrants need to do. And Zulmira, like all the other immigrants, had to overcome that problem. In the end, through all the ups and downs, Zulmira was happy with the set of circumstances that brought her to America.
Zulmira: And I think, uh, the whole thing about immigration, I think, happened in the past. I think now we really are in new, a “new generation.”