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Through An Immigrants Eyes
“Haha, give it back” said little Mary playing ball with her older brother of seven, Bobby. Mary herself was five years old and she, her mommy and older brother were headed to America for a chance at freedom. You might think this is Mary’s story, but it’s not. This is my story. My name is Amanda and I am fifteen years old. At this exact moment I am on a ship called S.S. STARDUST, heading for America, from my home country Ireland. I take another glance at Mary. She is sitting on her mother lap being cradled to sleep. As she finally closes her eyes, her mother kisses her gently on her red cheeks, not to disturb her sleep. She took her in her arms and brought her to their cabin. As I observe this, my eyes instantly fill with tears. I get homesick and realize how much I miss my mother. Especially after the way I left home.
“No Amanda, and that’s final!” these words take my back to last month when I asked mother if I could take a crack at happiness. I was tired of the exact same thing every day. Wake up at dawn, head to the farm to care for the cattle and plant crops until sun down. And that happened every single day. I knew I was capable of more. But mother wouldn’t even think of it. I was her little girl, and America was a new and strange place.
The next night, I snuck out from the house and purchased a ticket for the boat to America next month. Time passed by before you knew it. I packed my pillow case with most essential and mandatory items, like 2 of my newest dresses that mother sewed out of our old curtains and 1 shirt made from mother’s old blanket. I also took 2 cans of mashed potatoes leftovers from yesterday, as well as a good luck charm known to me as a small rusty coin mother gave me that she found once in our little shabby garden. She had always thought that it was worth something. At 2:00 am, I snuck from the window and of to the ferry dock all I left was a simple note explaining why and where I left. Now here I am 5 days later missing mother, the farm, and the cattle.
I try to go to sleep but that hard because I live in the steerage. It’s a terrible place with horrible conditions. It is an area bellow deck, near the rudder. It is hot, smelly, and cramped. They were the cheapest tickets possible, so I guess this will have to make do for the next month. Another reason is that I was afraid to fall asleep. I live with a group of young adults who call themselves the “Shark Attack.” They are the meanest people you could possible meet. They constantly abuse me and I live in fear .The 5 girls and 3 boys bother me every living second. They will go to desperate measures such as kicking, punching, and slapping me. As much as it hurts I can’t show them my tears, or else that encourages them, and they get even rougher on me. All of a sudden I hear the footsteps along the creaky halls. I gasp in panic, but of course they all come in to see me at the edge of my bed, feeling as nauseous as ever.
“Awww what happen, did the little girl cry?” They asked me with sarcastic faces, as one of them pulls me by my hair. I squealed, and that makes them more enraged.
“Don’t you make a peep, or else you won’t ever see the sun rise again,” said the toughest girl, who goes by the nick name ‘Bug’. I quietly nod as she picks me up with ease, and throws me on the cold, hard floor. They all laugh at me as they leave the room, slamming the door behind them. I bite my lip as hard as I can to prevent me from screaming out in pain. I get up and observe my bruises and scars. I limp up to my hay filled bed, and quietly sob. Did I make the wrong decision, or will this all pay off in the long run? I don’t know the answer, but hope I will soon find out.
As I kept turning from side to side, I thought about the anger swiveling my entire body. Oh, the hate was growing more and more every second, and I couldn’t do a single thing about it. I cannot wait to get of this boat, because a day with them is worse than anything I have ever experienced. Not only do they severely abuse me, they also make fun of my appearances and where I am from. Always saying mean thing about my culture to bring me down. I believe mama called them ‘racists’. They are people who bother or make fun of other people just because they have a different religion or background. After pushing the dark thoughts away, I try to think about good things like my possible opportunities in America.
I was thinking about working in a sweatshop to earn money for a living. It was my one and only choice, no matter how many bad things I heard about it from other relives that live in America. My uncle who works in America got me a room in a tenement with three other girls about my age. I thought about mother back on the farm. For better or for worse, it is too late to turn back now.
Three weeks have passed and the boat is now docking. There it is- Ellis Island, the place where dream come true and get crushed at the same time. As I shakily got my legs of the boat, everything was floating and I got nauseous again and threw up for the thirteenth time, because I easily get sea sick. As I entered the golden gates, I knew I had another week of anticipation until I was interviewed and found out if I was permitted into the country. Let’s hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.
For the next week I am living at an Ellis Island Receiving Station. Here I befriended a seventeen year old girl named Lisa. She is extremely beautiful compared to my average looks. I have straight jet black hair, average length and weight. Hazel eyes, and a small freckled nose. Lisa, on the other hand had long legs, and a slim body. Crystal clear blue eyes and not a single blemish covered her flawless face. Her blond hair with gentle waves shimmered in the rare sun. (It has been raining for five days straight, and that leaves a very gloom and depressing mood.) Despite our differences, she is helping me overcome my anxiety attacks.
Two days later Lisa was admitted into America. I was with her, waiting for her name to be called. I really wanted my friend to be happy and have a good life in America, but I was sad that she was leaving me, and I feared I would never see her again. As she got up towards the gate, she gives me a tearful good bye hug, and says
“Meet you on the other side” and handed me her good luck amulet she had received from her mother days before she left. I head back to my cabin. I feel uneasy because tomorrow they are announcing the last five people that will be permitted into America. Out of the two hundred twenty five people, my choices were slim, but I knew my amulet would guide me in the right direction.
5:45, said my pocket watch. I immediately got up and hurried to the bathing room. At 6:30 they were announcing the final five. Those forty five minute flew by faster than any other that I have lived through. To think, in one minute my entire future would be affected. Either I pass the golden gates, or I sail back to Ireland and face mother. 6:29 am. I hear the squeaking of the megaphone attached to a long rusty pole.
“May the following people gather their belongings, and come up to the main dock. Ruse Alnerdo, Sasha Kushkava, Charlie Neyborn, Tina Fritag, and………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
I hold my breath. I know that it’s now or never.
All was silent, the breath that I have been holding in for the past three minutes just melted like a snowflake on the warm hand of a small child. I feel like, like, like I………………..
The next thing I know I am opening my eyes. They are heavy. People are surrounding me, and where am I? On the cold wooden floor recovering from my faint. After hearing my name I was too excited to properly process my emotions.
“Are you alright child?” and
“Oh my lord, what happened?” circled my ears.
“I am alright” I managed to mumble out. Then I groggily got up and got my pillow case. I shakily got up to the main gates. All of a sudden I see little Mary, next to her crying mother trying to comfort her. I guess they didn’t make it I thought to myself, as I happily skipped out. Then I saw an amazing green statue holding a torch in one hand and a book in the other. I don’t know what she meant, but from that point on I felt right at home. As I took a deep breath and put my foot on American soil, I thought about the wondrous adventures awaiting me next………………………
THREE MONTHS LATER….
It is me- your daughter, Amanda. Forgive me please for abandoning you, but that farm was becoming unbearable. And the potato famine, there was nothing to eat!! I hope all is well with you. I am fine. America is a fine yet strange place. The work is hard, and I live in a tenement with three other girls- Emily, Amber, and Helen, who are now my three best friends. Uncle Sherm saved the apartment for me. It is crowded but tidy. Well I will write later mama, I am getting ready for work.
Oh, I almost forgot to say! You should really consider coming to America. It would be a great opportunity for you. Hope you think about what I said. That way you could be closer to me, and not worry about how I am doing.
YOUR LOVING DAUGHTER,