Most immigrants come to America in search forthe “American Dream”. The reason is to learn another culture and to providethemselves financial stability.
Also, to create opportunities for themselvesand to provide a better future for their children to come. Many steps up and enrollinto schools to educate themselves and learn the American culture withoutknowing that their journey of a lifetime transformation has only begun insearch of a better life. However, access to higher education has itslimitations for immigrants who do not know how to go about them. Such informationabout financial aid is a key predictor for immigrants in determining thelikelihood of college attendance. In an article titled “Access to Higher Educationfor Immigrant Students” by Eunyoung Kim and Jeannette Diaz, they discussed “thefactors affecting US immigrant studies during their transition to college” (Kimand Diaz).
The authors claim that “focus is given to generational status, socioeconomicstatus, English language proficiency, parental status, and financial aid (Kim andDiaz). US immigrant’s history present struggles such as: transition,integration, and transformation to understand and resolved issues, to access highereducation. Ultimately, with college financial aid in placed and other tools,most immigrants in the past were very successful and became famous authors andwriters.
Foryoung new immigrants coming to UnitedStates, their transition is much easier than their adultcounterparts. In the essay titled “The Gift of Language” by Lan Cao, shediscusses her “transition to UnitedStatesbeing completely opposite from her mother’s perspective. Moving to this countryrequired Cao and her mother to make abrupt changes such as learning English, adaptingthe American culture, and quickly adjusting to their surroundings. In thebeginning, Cao and her mother were in the state of culture shock when theyinitially arrive in United States.”In Connecticut, the new language Uncle Michael and Aunt Mary were teaching mebegan gathering momentum like tumble weed in a storm” (Cao 618). Based on Cao’sexperience, it is easier for children to pick up ondifferent languages while their mind can absorb new information at a faster pace. It was evident to see that Cao had an easiertime adjusting to the changes in America in comparison to her mother.
As aresult, Cao had to come to her mother’s rescue and help her guide through in somany ways.Whentrying to adopt new cultures, immigrants are able to integrate despite oflanguage barriers. In the article, “How to Tame a WildTongue,” by Gloria Anzaldúa she discusses about people creating a languagewhich they can connect their identity to one capable of communicating therealities and values through to themselves—a language with terms that areneither “espaniol ni ingles, butboth. Inother words, if an individual chooses to immigrate to the United States, he or she should embrace the languageand culture in order to be “accepted.” On the Hispanic side, there are theMexican parents who want their children to succeed and live the American Dream,thus expectation to properly speak American English is high with minimum or noaccent.
“Anzaldua remember being sent to the corner of theclassroom for talking back to the Anglo Teacher when all I was trying to do wasto tell her my American name. If you want to be America, speak American. If youdon’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong” (Anzaldua 53). Anzaldua definesthe acculturation process as something extremely violent and cruel.
Both sidesof the acculturation process: the Anglo side and the Hispanic side. On theAnglo side, there is the urgency of adaption.Dueto their achievements of higher education, immigrants are capable to transformthemselves into a successful author or journalist. Both authors Cao andAnzaldua are good models who came to the United States and transformedthemselves into a famous writer due to their abilities to seek and resolvedaccess to higher education. By navigating themselves through the American education,they were able to excel and integrate with the American culture but also staytrue to their culture. Lan Cao wrote “The Gift of Language” as to show her opennessto learn the American culture as oppose to her mother who found it strange. Shequotes, “The story of English was nothing less than the poetry of sound andmotion” (Cao 618). Her love for learning a new language from her Aunt Mary madeher proud and began to appreciate every terminology that came her way.
She iscurrently a Boyd fellow and a professor of law at the Marshall-Wythe School ofLaw at the college of William and Mary. She was the author of Monkey Bridge (1997), thesemiautobiographical novel from which her essay comes from. Cao came to Americain 1975. On a similar situation, Gloria Anzaldua wrote her experience whencoming to America in her essay titled “How to Tame a Wild Tongue.” In her essay, she quotes, “Now that we had aname, some of the fragmented pieces began to fall together – who we were, whatwe were, and how we had evolved. We began to get glimpses of what we mighteventually become” (Anzaldua). It was a struggle for Anzaldua to recognize heridentity as she is conflicted with her American side and her Chicano side butyet she manages to transform her culture beliefs into accomplishments. “GloriaAnzaldúa was born in 1942 in Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.
At age 11, shebegan working in the fields as a migrant worker and then on her family’s landafter the death of her father. Working her way through school, she eventuallybecame a school teacher and then an academic, speaking and writing about feminist,lesbian and Chicana issues and about autobiography. She dies in 2004″ (Anzaldua33).On the other hand, without access to higher education canlead to a poor quality of life. Without learning such skills may preventindividuals from gaining knowledge to apply to their world around them.Individuals having higher education gain more momentum as they become confidentin their communication skills and become more independent.
In Cao’s article”The Gift of Language,” her mother had a hard time understanding the way ofAmerican culture because she was unable to communicate fully when roaming themarkets in their hometown. Cao, who was an immigrant at the time, learned tolove the language she was taught by her aunt and uncle. When she returned toVietnam, she referred to herself among her mother’s neighbors the “keeper ofthe word, the only one with access to the light world” (Cao 619). Because ofwhat she learned in American, she has brought her skills and knowledge as toshow that she had conquered what her mother could not understand. Her confidenceof learning another language held such powers that she felt she had the insightinto another world.
Hearing stories of immigrants coming into America offersthe realizations of their struggles and how their stories paint a picture oftheir day to day experiences for others to be served as a lesson for immigrantsin the future. Learning their history of struggles played an important role inbeating the odds on the issue of higher education. They were able totransition, integrate, and transform themselves to become better in life andovercome issues in education. Immigrantsseems to be hopeless at the beginning but with dedication and struggle theytransform themselves to be a better person.