From The Peopling of New York City

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Who I Am

I am an average asian (like the MadTV skit). My name is Steven but many people call me Steve, which is okay. I am addicted to chess and video games. I favorite school subjects are science and math. I like a wide variety of music, from J-Pop to techno. Yes, Andrew claims I’m not a fan of techno because I don’t know the names of any artists, which makes no sense. I’m not really into Western music, I don’t know why. I enjoy looking at art styles/techniques more than the artwork itself. My favorite TV shows are House and Mentalist.

My favorite reading from Seminar 2 was the Garcia Girls because the story was interesting and their situation was a nice deviation from the classical poor immigrant story. The novels and poems were interesting but the rest of the readings were very boring.

I am a member of the Italian group project. My focus is on the ‘Bigger Picture’. For my individual project, I will work on The Fortunate Pilgrim by Mario Puzo. It is a story about a mother’s struggle through difficult times. I originally wanted to do GodFather but everyone knows the story already and I found the new one to be more interesting and relevant to Italians in general.

Where I'm From

My family is a typical family of four people. I have a mother and father and a younger sister. My parents were born in Vietnam while my sister and I were born here. We currently live in a house in Jackson Heights. Like many New York families, my parents were also immigrants. They too came to America to look for opportunity and to provide better lives for their children. Both my mother and father were born in the City of Rach Gia in Southern Vietnam. They lived there for about 22 years until communism took over. The communist government took most of their belongings so they saved up whatever they had and left the country. After moving to America, they met each other and got married. They rented a home near my mother’s family’s house and lived there until they had me. Four years later, they had my sister and we moved into the house we live in today. Although I was born here, I felt like I was an immigrant when I was younger, around the time I started school. Being the first generation born here, English was not my first language and my parents did not know any English to teach me. I had no idea what to do when the teacher gave me a worksheet with pictures on it and an area to write underneath. It was extremely hard for me when I started school. I could not communicate with the teacher or other students and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing in this place called “school”. Because of this, I think I worked harder than other kids. Like an immigrant, I struggled to adapt to American society. By first grade, my parents would push me to ace every spelling test. In the end, I think I developed a higher standard than other kids. By Junior High School, I found that other kids were content with just passing while I was aiming for higher grades. Hearing stories from my mother and father, I imagine life as how it was for them back in Vietnam and how it is for me right now. Their words are almost like an experience more than a story because I know that it is absolutely true. I think this blend of cultures allows me to see the world in different ways. I have the immigrant experience of trying to adapt to the American system and I also have my present American-adapted self. In addition, I have the stories and customs taught to me by my parents. As a result, I can understand other immigrants’ struggles, even though I am not really an immigrant myself.

My New York

I was born in New York. I’ve lived in Jackson Heights all my life. It is a noisy neighborhood because it is near the train station. There are mexican restaurants and stores that play loud music on the weekends and at night. My favorite location would probably be the park on 90th street. I practiced playing basketball there when I was younger. My favorite store would be the pizza place across my block. They make better pizza than most places.

The thing I like most about New York is that you get to see something exciting everyday. There are very very weird people out there and for some reason, they all like to hang out in the train. You get to see beggers, preachers, musicians, bands, people who can’t sing, and a whole circus of people. It is very entertaining for me and something I’ve gotten used to. Another thing I like about New York is that the huge number of stores. You have tons of places to choose from when you go grocery shopping and so you can get the best bang for your buck. Also, on my block alone, there are four pizza stores. Because of that, I can choose to have the tasty pizza or the cheap pizza. You don’t really have a choice when you live anywhere else.

For me, New York is like my nest. I was born and raised in the city, and so I don’t feel very comfortable living anywhere else. I walk outside and expect to see dozens of stores selling everything I need from bread, to food, to 99 cent items. New York is my home because it’s the only place I’ve ever lived. I fit in with all the other people from different nationalities. I really like New York. It’s noisy, there are too many people, and the air is a health hazard, but I couldn’t imagine myself living in an area with little to no people. It may be annoying at times, but it makes me feel like the earth is still spinning and that there are people out there.