Natasha Marsub’s Interview As told to Maria In 1982, Natasha Marsub’s father got the exciting news of his acceptance into an American college. In the same year he departed Bangladesh and embarked on a journey towards his success, and that of his future family. Luckily, things have worked out but at the expense of being held responsible for the success of other family members. Life in the United States, however, hasn’t been as perfect as many of them envisioned, especially not for Natasha’s family. -Father’s/Mother’s migration to the United States
My dad came in 1982 and my mom in 1990. My father came because he planned to get his education in the United States, so he was single at that time. My grandparents allowed him to come, they knew it was the best decision he could have made. This means he came with a student visa. When my father first arrived, he did know my mom; they were actually dating. They got married 6 years later and that’s when my father asked for my mom and brought her from Bangladesh. In terms of my experience in Bangladesh, I’ve been there 6 or 7 times, but I’ve never actually lived there. My parents are the true immigrants in my family.
-Establishing a living style somewhere in the U.S
My Dad got accepted into a college in Kansas and lived there until 1990. Once he got married to my mom and she arrived, they moved to Texas, the place where I was born. Then in 1995, we all moved to New York because my mom was able to get a job. We lived in Queens; first in Sunnyside, then Jamaica. Then in 2005 we moved to Long Island. By the time we moved to New York, I was only 2 years old. After speaking to my parents, the United States has actually fulfilled their expectations. My parents have been able to buy their own home, my father knew English in Bangladesh, my mother knew some of the language, but has been able to acclimate herself nonetheless. They say that having their kids in the U.S makes it easier for them to achieve success as well. If my father would have completed college in Bangladesh and establish a life there, he would have still found a way to migrate to the U.S. My mother practiced medicine in Bangladesh. She went to medical school there and was able to continue practicing here. My father was a student when he arrived so he wasn’t really thinking of working. My first job here was actually at a Kumon learning center working with the data entry system. Even though I only worked there for a year, I really enjoyed working with little kids. Then, I was able to get a better job.
-Comparing life-styles; Bangladesh V. United States
Well, we come from the capital, Taca. I think that has helped make life there, in my opinion, a lot more relaxed, there aren’t that many responsibilities. A lot of people do things for you, we have a maid, a drivers, but my parents still say that they wouldn’t move back there. There is no electricity, no running water. For them the lack of infrastructure is frustrating; the people in charge aren’t as advanced. But they are not shocked with this situation mostly because of the amount of corruption in the country. The fact that most of my family is in Bangladesh makes my parents want to go back there often to visit, although many of them have been able to make it to the U.S. This has helped the feeling of going home subside a bit. There, we all wake up for breakfast, visit someone’s house, go shopping, or whatever else we feel like doing. There I feel like the spices, ingredients, produce and other flavors added to the food are too strong for me to enjoy them.
-Impact of traditional culture on Natasha
I have to admit that when I was in 7th grade, I contemplated the idea of living in Bangladesh. I remember we went to my parent’s country for my uncle’s wedding and despite the culture-shock, I fully enjoyed the time I spent there. I saw life as extremely simple over there. This is what made me consider Bangladesh as ever becoming my home country. But this is no longer the case. As a got older I realized that my plans of living there after I was finished with college weren’t the most appropriate because of what my parents would tell me about the situation of the country. Despite this realization, I don’t see myself as being any other culture but Bengali. This encompasses the food I eat, it’s represented in the clothes I wear, it can be seen through the way I speak, the way I live my life, the morals that have been instilled in me, the religion I follow, etc. Although I am an American citizen, I do not see myself as just American. There’s more to my life than the U.S.
-Personal Challenges/Family Sacrifices
Since we have many cousins and uncles—my dad has 5 brothers and 6 sisters and my mom has 2 brothers and 2 sisters—we all had to sacrifice a lot for them to get them to America. At one point we were all living under the same roof, which sounds crazy. My parents helped them out in any way they could until they were able to become financially-independent. My mother had to make the sacrifice of leaving her family behind when she got married to my father and migrated to the U.S. But I’m sure I can speak for them and say that all of these struggles were worth fighting for.
-Helping other family members
As a result of my parent’s hard work, they’ve been able to unite most of our family. Most of my mom’s side is here in America unlike my dad’s side, who only has a few brothers here. They are thinking of coming to the U.S for the moment either. But having enough members living nearby allows for big family celebrations. We all celebrate the traditional Bengali holidays. Usually this is our traditional routine: we go to have breakfast at an aunt’s house, we all dress up, and we have dinner at my house. The dinner tends to be pretty big
-First Impression of NYC
Over the years, when more and more of our family would come to America, my parents and I would take them on tours of the city. And every time we would go, which wasn’t very often by the way, I’d be amazed at the grandiosity of the buildings. I was always mind-blown by the buildings decorating the island; the people were just so many. Everyone seemed to busy and in a rush. It was very, very exciting going to the city for me.
-Impact of Twin Tower’s attack on the family/community
9/11 has definitely had an impact on everyone’s life, particularly for us—the Muslim-American community. Ever since that tragic event, we’ve been isolated as well as victimized and it hasn’t gone away under any circumstances. I feel like I live in a family and culture that has been marginalized. People just forget, or perhaps they’ve never stopped to wonder, that my culture isn’t defined by terrorism. When my father listens to the news, he questions whether politicians have their best intentions in mind when it comes to the community. When my family gets together and talks about it, the conversation gets geared towards the fact that unfortunately, no matter what, everyone in their family have been and will still be marginalized. My parents always tell us to keep our guards up; they always say to be careful with what you say because you never know when people may hold things against you. Once my cousin wanted to do a project on 9/11, and my parents immediately disapproved of his idea because it was simply a very controversial topic and that he didn’t know what someone could hold against him in the future.