Samuel J Paul’s Inteview as told to Viki Hazkour

Samuel J Paul is a second generation Haitian whose parents moved to America about twenty years ago. Samuel is constantly reminded about his parent’s move and is proud that they were able to successfully accommodate to New York even with such a rough beginning.

In Haiti

My parents are born and raised Haitians. They are so tied to their land and love almost everything about it. My mom lived in the capital of Haiti, Port au Prince but my father came from a city called Okapi. They knew each other in a formal way and nothing more. When they were in their 20s the government in Haiti was overly oppressive and living conditions were very poor; it was hard to make money or even get a job.everyone wanted to leave Haiti as soon as possible. At that time my parents decided to leave Haiti, go elsewhere, and try to make a better living. As my father came straight to Corona Queens my mother first lived in Canada and became an artist.

Day of Arrival

It was the late 1980s; my father’s first day in the states wasn’t so tough. He remembers meeting a bunch of his friends at the airport and getting an apartment in Corona queens. His friends set him up with a good job in a makeup factory called Mana Products. He got lucky, he was one of a few to have things ready for him it is the same job he has today. After couple months of touring Canada and spending her time working as an artist, my mom came to America. It was because of my father; she agreed to leave Canada and to move here for him. Her first day in Canada was much tougher though. It was in October and it was her first time going anywhere out of Haiti. It was a cold winter and there was hard snow; she says she was freezing because although she knew it would be cold she was not expecting such harsh weather.

Where are we going to live and what are we going to do?

With  little time both my parents were in America and there was a lot of decisions to make about what jobs they are going to keep; who of them would stay at home and who would work. They also had to decide the location they were going to live and raise a family. My parents had different motives. My mom was independent and wanted to chase the location with the best job opportunities but my father was very community based and wanted to stay in Corona where there is a large Dominican and Haitian community.  Since my father’s job was stable they decided he would keep the job and even though the job is in long island (far from Corona) my father was willing to make the trip and have us live next to the Haitian community in corona.

Growing up Haitian

My parents always talk about “the way it used to be “in Haiti. When I was a kid my parents told me stories about Haiti, they spoke about the clean beaches, the home grown tasty food and the relaxing scenery. For a long time my parents carried out their old traditions in our home; we used to dress in nice Sunday cloths for Sunday lunch but that stopped as we grew up. My mother still cooks authentic Haitian food, we speak French creole in my house and we are practicing catholic Christians. My parents always find a way to keep our culture in our home.

My future as an American Haitian

I love Haiti and would love to visit it very soon because I have never been there before but if you asked me whether if I consider myself more American or more Haitian, I would have to say American. I don’t try to stay away from my Haitian roots but I was born in America and have always viewed America as my homeland and I don’t think I can relate to another country better than  I can to this country. For example, I don’t live next to a Haitian community anymore but I don’t feel so bad about it because I consider myself just as much American as I am Haitian if not more , so I don’t think I mind it so much. I want my children to grow up knowing about the Haitian culture, at least the main things, like church, the food, and the language. I won’t blame them if they are somewhat distant , like I seem if compared to my parents , but I want them to try.