Alex Thomas’s Migration Story

The first instance I can remember that the idea of “immigration” or “migration” being an issue I had to face or understand was on my first day of preschool. I sat down in class, looked around me, and saw a bunch of white catholic boys and girls. At that time I was around five years old, so I could recognize that I looked different from everybody else. I went home that day and asked my dad, “Why do I look different from all the other kids in my school?” My dad simply said, “Our family is from India, and these families are from here.”

And that is where the story of my family’s immigration begins. Both my parents were born in a state down in the south of India called Kerala. The temperature down there is disgustingly hot and humid, and to this day I don’t know how my dad dealt with it for the first twenty-eight years of his life. My mom, however, dealt with the awful weather for a much shorter period of time, as her father moved the family to Jamaica, Queens when she was only four. So my dad is a first generation immigrant to the United States, but my mom could very easily be considered a second-generation immigrant.

So my family’s migration story is comprised of two separate parts, and this has had a profound impact on me. My dad lived in a very poor, rural area of south India for his whole childhood and the beginning of his adult life. Food and clothing was limited, money was scarce, and electricity was not even a possibility. He today tells me that it was not so bad while he was immersed in that lifestyle, because he did not know of any other lifestyle to live. He agrees that if he had to go through it again, he would not be able to stand it for very long, because he has spent almost thirty years in the United States with the comforts that we take for granted. This early lifestyle has impacted him today because he truly realizes the value of money, food, clothing, and he has transferred those values to my two sisters and I.

My mother on the other had a much different life because she had the opportunity to grow up in Jamaica, Queens which allowed for her to have many more opportunities than my dad ever had. However, her father, and my grandfather, is a very hard-hearted and strict man, a father typical of people from India. For this reason, many of the values and morals that she possesses are the same values that she would have obtained had she lived in India. She lived in Jamaica, Queens for the rest of her life, until she met my father in India, and they decided that they should get married.

After the marriage of my mother and father, my dad decided to move to America and use his accounting degree that he earned in India to get a job.. He now works for the state as an accountant. My mom went to college and became a social worker, and now she is the head of a program called the Center for HOPE. Eventually, my parents moved from Jamaica, Queens to Long Island, where they had three kids, and we continue to live there as a family. While this is the end of movement and migration of my parents, it may not be the end of migration for me, and we’ll see how my story ends up as time goes on.

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