November 2, 2012, Friday, 306


From The Peopling of New York City

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About Me

My name is Brigida. I've lived in Brooklyn all my life and I graduated from Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences, formerly known as Kingsborough High School. I currently have a 4.0 GPA and I have not declared a major yet. I enjoy reading, watching TV and movies, and long walks on the beach (ha ha).

I am a second-generation immigrant of Italian descent. Before his immediate family left Italy, my grandfather lived in the town of Gallo, which is in the Province of Campo Basso. Like many people, they left to avoid political oppression. My great-grandparents were escaping Mussolini’s dictatorship. My grandfather has told me about arriving in America and seeing the Statue of Liberty from the crowded boat. Even though his family settled in Weirton, West Virginia at first, my grandfather wanted to come back to New York City because of that image.

Although I have asked him on numerous occasions, my grandfather claims he never had a problem with racism or xenophobia in all his time here. He’s usually unabashedly honest, so I doubt it’s out of concern for me that he would say this. My grandfather simply loves this country. I too have been fortunate enough to avoid any bigotry, apart from the occasional reference to The Godfather or The Sopranos. My family may enjoy pizza, pasta, and the occasional cannoli but that does not mean that we are members of the mafia.

Thankfully, my Italian heritage has never impeded my opportunities. It didn’t stop my grandfather from starting his own appliance business or my father from becoming a principal. I feel like I can be whatever I choose. In addition, being a part of an Italian-American family in New York City has made us all want to keep our traditions strong. Most of them revolve around food, so as long as there are other Italians living here, we’ll be able to obtain the ingredients we need.

My life in New York City has exposed me to immigrants from many other countries. I have had friends who are first-generation immigrants or have come from Russia, India, Greece, Poland, and Canada themselves. Once I stumble across this information, I usually wind up asking them to compare their country of origin to America. I often think that I only get the opportunity to have these conversations because I live in New York City.

Unfortunately, I often feel like I can’t relate to the many immigrant communities I have come across. Living in New York City has helped me develop a tolerance for others, but since I’ve been here my whole life, I’ve never had the feeling that I was an outsider or a foreigner. Hopefully, this course will help me better understand why people leave their nations of origin and how they feel about the new lands they must learn to call “home.”

My Page

Here is my page on Second Street.