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Victoria Soria
English 2010
Jim Beatty
2 November 2015
Between Two Worlds
The U.S. is made out of immigrants from all parts of the world. I was born in Mexico, but
I am also a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. I was only five years old when
my mother decided that a better future awaited us in the U.S. Growing up, I always felt like I was
part of two worlds but I also felt like I would never be fully accepted in either one of them. One
world I was given by birth and the other one I had to discover on my own. Now I feel fortunate
to be part of these two worlds, but it was not easy to fulfil that feeling. Growing up as an
immigrant child or as a child of immigrants is the reality for many children in the U.S.
Immigrant children face many challenges trying to find their identity. Immigrant children and
children of immigrants often find themselves lost between two worlds.
I remember one day in my early adolescent years I realized I was not the only one trying
to adapt to a new world. The phenomenal increase in contemporary immigration to the United
States has given rise to a record number of children who, regardless of place of birth, are raised
in immigrant families (Zhou). As a child and even as an adult, people want to have that sense of
belonging. But it is hard to figure out where that is if they are stuck between two cultures.
Growing up, I was always hesitant to say where I am from. This is not because I am ashamed of
my background, but because there were always questions that followed. People asked me about
the part of Mexico I was born in, the environment, the culture, the people there. I would get
frustrated with myself because I was never able to answer any of those questions. I was only five
years old when I left my place of birth. I did not know much about it. I did not get to explore it.

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Sometimes parents expect their children to hold on to their traditions, but failed to emphasize the
importance of it.
Immigrant children or children of immigrants are not completely accepted by their own
people nor the American people. I have faced that challenge even with my own family. When
I am around my family or Mexican people I am looked at differently. I have been accused of
either pretending to not know about my own culture or I am too Americanized to care about it.
When I am around people born and raised in the U.S. that are far from being part of the first or
second generation of immigrants in the U.S. I am also looked at differently. For some of them,
the U.S. only belongs to them. I and my people are just invading their country. We are
taking away their opportunities, their money. This is exactly what made me and many others like
me feel a lack of our own identity.
We can ask where we belong. I cannot belong to my place of birth because I have
never really been part of it. I cannot belong to this other world because I was not born here or
because of my background. In the article Growing Up American: The Challenge Confronting
Immigrant Children and Children of Immigrants., Zhou mentions that immigrant children and
children of immigrants lack meaningful connections to their old world. They are thus unlikely
to consider a foreign country as a place to return to or as a point of reference. They instead are
prone to evaluate themselves or to be evaluated by others by the standards of their new country
(Gans 1992, Portes 1995). (Zhou). According to Zhous article I am sometimes considered a
one-and-a-half generation, a term coined by Ruben Rumbaut to characterize the children who
straddle the old and the new worlds but are fully part of neither (Perez Firmat 1994, Rumbaut
1991). Some children get to adulthood still not knowing their identity. Growing up, I would ask
myself, Who am I? And while it is true that maybe all children go through that phase in their
life, it is harder to overcome that feeling while stuck between two totally different societies.
Usually a child is only trying to figure out who they are or want to be. But as a child I felt that I

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had to figure out who I was, who I wanted to be and which culture I was going to be known for.
That was more complicated than just figuring out what I wanted to be when I grow up or the
kind of adult I wanted to be.
Another big challenge most immigrant children or children of immigrants have to face is
learning the English language. An immigrants first language is not likely to be English. A young
child can learn how to speak English at a faster pace than older children or adults. The challenge
is when the children are trying to reinforce their knowledge of the new language, to practice
what they learn in school, and they are not able to do so outside of class. A lot of parents only
speak their native language at home. I remember one of my friends telling me that her parents
did not allow her to speak English at home. Situations like the one my friend had are very
common and it makes it more difficult for children to develop language and even non-verbal
communication skills. In the article Just Like Me, McCloud mentions that there is clearly a
need for alternative paradigms that value and affirm the rich, diverse experiences of immigrant
youth (McCloud). Children, immigrant or not, are the future of this country. Schools as well as
parents need to take action to help ease some of the challenges immigrant students face. They
need to talk to the children about identity at an early age and again as they reach high school
years. Parents need to affirm the importance of BOTH cultures, and make sure the children feel
as comfortable as possible with their native culture. Children need to be reminded that learning
English is as important as retaining and developing their native language. In the article Children
of Immigrants, Maucci interviewed several individuals raised in immigrant families. One of the
immigrants offspring mentions, When I began primarily speaking English, people were
shocked whenever they heard a pale girl say, yo soy latina. Thats when I started to feel neither
South American nor North American. I was stuck in an uncomfortable in-between, a place from
which I am still trying to free myself. (Maucci). I learned English within the first year of being
in the U.S. By my third year in school, I was already fluent in English, but I never developed my

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Spanish. I am now taking Spanish classes because I want to learn how to write proper Spanish. I
never really got to learn or develop that part of my native language. And this is because I always
felt lost in between my two worlds. I was eager to be fluent on the new language and neglected
my native one.
There are many more challenges that immigrant children and children of immigrants
face. One thing is for sure: we are unique. But I do not want to be looked at as a victim; rather I
see my situation as an opportunity to welcome diversity and learn from it. Because victimization
adversely affects youth development, understanding the victimization of the children of
immigrants is of special interest because they are part of this countrys futureits parents, its
labor force, and its voters (Peguero). It is important for everyone to know that victimizing
immigrants and their offspring is not the right approach to dealing with their issues. Immigrants
need to be enable so they can be more self-efficient and prosper in the U.S. Victimization does
not help anyone evolve. Developing strategies for better educational and social experiences for
every child, immigrant or not, should be reconsidered. I always thought I was more than capable
to be more involved with my schools student board, but I never felt good enough because I was
an immigrant child. Victimization does not give the tools people need to push forward and aspire
for better things. In the Hispanic culture, parents hardly ever talk about professional careers.
They refer to professions as jobs. They ask their children what kind of job they want to do when
they grow up rather than what kind of professionals they want to be. Maybe that is one of the
reasons most Hispanic children do not think about higher education. They seem to be expected to
drop out school, get married and live pay check to pay check. I am the first one in my family to
go to college. In the eyes of some of my family members that is Americanized. But all of them
realize it is the best for me and my future. I am glad to know that some of my younger nieces and

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nephews are not doing what is expected of them. They are getting higher education and
aspiring for professional careers. I have decided to not let my situation make me a victim but a
Yes, we may be stuck in two different worlds but that does not mean we are stuck in life.
I finally realized that there is only one world for me, and that is my own. I refuse to be what
people expect me to be, whether it is an Americanized immigrant, the one-and-a-half
generation descendant, or the not-so-Mexican native. I am who I am and I am okay with it. I
was born in Mexico and I am now focused on constantly learning new things about my culture. I
grew up in the U.S. and I am no longer afraid of taking advantage of the opportunities this
country offers me. I am proud of who I am. I have faced many challenges, but now I understand
that my experiences have given me the courage to be fearless in-between these two worlds where
I belong.

Works Cited

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Zhou, Min. Growing Up American: The Challenge Confronting Immigrant Children and
Children of Immigrants. Annu. Rev. Sociol. Annual Review of Sociology: 6395. Print.
Maucci, Quetzal. Children of Immigrant. The New York Times. The New York Times,
20 Sept. 2014. Tue. 13 Oct. 2015.
McCloud, Jennifer. "Just Like Me": How Immigrant Students Experience A U.S. High
School." High School Journal 98.3 (2015): 262-282. Academic Search Premier.
Web. 20 Oct. 2015.
Peguero, Anthony A. Victimizing The Children Of Immigrants: Latino And Asian
American Student Victiminaztion. Youth &Society 41.2 (2009): 186-208.
Academic Search Premier. Tue. 13 Oct. 2015.