August 6, 2011
My parents came to The United States from Russia as adults, brought their language they would not teach us, their accents, their music, their food, and their silence. Their children would be American born, would have English as their first language, would grow up in a better country—free to enjoy their share of the good life. My parents also brought with them their lullabies, their stories, and their protection. My respect for them is so profound that it is almost unspeakable without tears.
From my vantage point as a First Generation American, I have a sentimentality for my parents’ first culture which is interlocked with their journey across to America. They made the journey; therefore, I made the journey.
Consequently, I sometimes find myself looking at American-born Americans as if I am an outsider, not quite assimilated. And yet, I grew up in the major city of Los Angeles, attended find schools and colleges, married successfully, have a successful child, enjoy the good life my parents wanted for me, and yet at times I have this feeling of “looking in from the outside.” But I prefer it this way. In fact I cherish it this way. I feel I have an eye that can see in two directions simultaneously. It is enviable.
Do other First Generation Americans feel as I do?
What, I wonder, is the chemistry for Second Generation Americans of foreign born grandparents?