Harryson Civil’s Interview as told to Kwan Holloway

Harryson Civil’s family was living in Haiti with no opportunities, and barely and help from anyone. When it became too much, they fled to America in search of acceptance, love, and a brighter future. After coming here, Harryson’s life has done nothing but improve.

The Early Years
I was born in Port-au-Prince, it’s the capital of Haiti. It’s really loud there and there’s a bunch of people, always working and doing many others things. It was fun there too, we used to play in the streets and drive our parents crazy as kids, because we were always getting into trouble and stuff. My parents are very loving and they did their best to raise us well. Oh yeah, I have 2 brothers, we’re all triplets, I also have 2 sisters who were born in America more recently, they’re young.

School Days

Hmm, I don’t really remember my first day of school there, but I do remember that I didn’t like school in Haiti at all. We had to pay to go to school and we were beaten by our teachers if we didn’t do our homework even once, man that really sucked, haha, it’s way better in America. The work they gave us was annoying and hard and I didn’t do great in all my classes but I got by every year. I wish I could’ve hit the teachers back, ya know, hahaha, it was so annoying. As of now I’m in Kingsborough Community College and it’s so much better man! The teachers don’t care if you do your homework or not, or even if you show up, as long as you pass the tests, you’re good. I love it, haha. I’ve been trying to keep my grades up so I can get a good job in the future and help my family, ya know, because they’ve done a lot for me.

Pull Factors & The Move

Well it was getting really bad in Haiti and my parents though that we should move to America, since it was full of opportunities for us. But that’s not it, we were also pretty poor and some days we didn’t know if we would eat anything. Also we heard that there are laundry machines and that we wouldn’t have to wash all our clothes by hand, which sounded impossible at the time, haha. Another big reason was the free school in America, which would help my parents save money for other things, ya know. We came here in 2008 and it’s been great ever since, I remember that plane ride, it was sad and happy at the same time man, because we got to come to New York which was great, but I was leaving my true home.

Impressions of NYC

When we first got here I was really surprised because somehow NYC was even LOUDER that Port-au-Prince, which was insane to me. Also it was so much more full of people, like I think I literally saw more than a million people in my first week, just by using the trains, and going to see places in the city. I knew I’d like it here because you could tell that this was a place to have fun and there were so many different people from so many different cultures, like I felt like I saw someone from every country on earth, hahaha. Also we moved here in December so it was the first time I was actually really really cold, I mean I was used to summer all the time, but geez, it was so damn cold, it was annoying but it was also kinda nice because it was something new for me and my family. We found a place in Brooklyn and have been there since we got here.

The Earthquake

 Yeah it was really sad, we’d only been here for about a year and a half and then the earthquake happened. No one I knew was hurt, but it was really scary because for a while we couldn’t get in contact with anyone. I thought that they might’ve died, ya know and I was just really sad, I don’t know how else to describe it. It was just a really scary time. My parents took even worse than I did and did their best to keep our spirits up while things got resolved. When I think about that, I remember how strong they were, and how much they helped all of us. But luckily, no one we knew got hurt and they were able to rebuild or come here after the quake. I’m just glad that’s in the past, haha.

Culture & Religion

I don’t have that many traditions or anything like that from growing up in Haiti, we lived pretty normally and even if there were tradition I got from my parents, I totally forgot them after coming here, hahaha. But I am Christian though, and I take that very seriously. I’m in church every week and I’m part of a religious group called Jesus youth. We pray and talk about our Jesus at our meeting and it’s really important to me because it has changed the way I live. I think that Christianity has made my life way better, I feel more loving and spiritual.

Moving Ahead

Yeah well as I said, I’m trying to finish college and set my self up so I can have a better job, ya know, don’t wanna be hungry when I’m older, haha. As of now I’m working at Applebee’s, and though it isn’t the best thing ever, it’s better than nothing, ya know. I really wanna make a lot of money, and support my family in the future, that’d be great for me. I gotta be the future, ya know, take charge and lead.