Aria is a 6th grader who lives with her parents, brother, two birds, and two dogs. Art is her favorite hobby and she does it almost every day! She also really enjoys cooking and baking. Something that is especially interesting about Aria is that she is both an American and Canadian citizen!
Elan is a 5th grader who lives with his mom, dad, brother, Ari and 2 dogs, Ozzie and Scout. His favorite subjects in school are math, social studies and band. He plays the saxophone and also liks architecture and engineering. When he's not in school, he enjoys playing sports, especially soccer.
Caden Becker is an 8th grader whose favorite subjects include math and chemistry. He plays trumpet in the school band and enjoys playing flag football with his friends. His favorite book is "Enders Game."
America is an amazing country with unlimited opportunities. For generations, coming to America meant opportunity and a chance to create a new life.
But, it is also vast and intimidating, especially for a child. While most people think about immigrants as adults, many who migrate to America are just children. Nor is this a new phenomenon. Children have been immigrating to the US since the beginning of the country.
Imagine being a child or orphan, coming to America, across an ocean without any idea of what you would find when you arrived.
Both sides of my family came to the United States as children. Although my great-grandparents grew up in America, they were not born here and passed down the importance of being a citizen to their children.
Some children came to the United States completely alone to create a new family. In the late 1800s, my great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side emigrated to the United States from somewhere in Europe. While we don’t know where he was born or exactly when he arrived in America, he gave the impression he was leaving an authoritarian theocracy. However, a DNA test through Ancestry.com suggests he was probably German.
According to family stories, my great-great-grandfather came to the United States as a young teen and was adopted into a family and lived on their farm in Missouri. He never worked as a farmer and our family stories suggest he was adopted because he had other skills that were useful to the farming family. He had learned carpentry before emigrating and went to work as a carpenter and coffin maker - a skill he taught and passed on to his son, Carl Elmond Starr. Carl Starr and later my grandfather Steven Starr passed on the story that he could construct anything out of wood, often without nails. At the time, he was one of the sole carpenters in the
state that could make a coffin without a nail or a hinge. Whatever caused him to leave his home country, he was able to use his skills to create a new life and support a family, even amid America’s economic depression. He also found the joy in being an American and embraced games the way a young man would. Besides his skill with wood, my great-great-grandfather passed on a love of American sports. For him, being American meant embracing America’s sport and he encouraged his son to play. When Missouri was hit by the devastating drought and
dust storms of the 1930s, my great grandfather left Missouri for California. When he left, he took a set of woodworking tools his father gifted him with that we still have in the family and a love of baseball. My great grandfather coached Little League, installed wood floors, and raised a family. He was deeply patriotic and when the Vietnam conflict started, two of his children served in the army.
Some children came to find their families that were already there. About the same time as my mother’s grandfather fled the dust bowl of the midwest, my father’s grandmother, Rachel Berman, fled growing unrest in Eastern Europe to come to America. She traveled with her five siblings and mother from Czernowitz, Ukraine on the ship, Noordam, one hundred years ago, in 1921 at the age of nine. She only spoke Yiddish when she arrived and because she was so small, the immigration officers asked if she was ill. Her mother was afraid they would send her or even the entire family, back to Ukraine if they thought she was sick, so she told the officers
that Rachel was only 5 years old. She came to the United States to reunite with her father who had emigrated several years earlier. He had traveled ahead to earn enough to bring all his children to the new world. She grew up in a robust and close-knit Jewish community in Pittsburgh. She never grew very much and was only four feet 9 inches, but she is remembered as a strong and opinionated woman who valued education, worked hard, and loved good food. She married Irvin Becker, a butcher, and opened a grocery store. But, it was destroyed during
the race riots of the early 1970s. She raised two sons. My grandfather grew up to be a lawyer and my great-uncle is a doctor.
There is no minimum age to come to America. For hundreds of years, people of all ages have traveled to the United States looking to start a new life and embrace the opportunities American offers. They travel to America with few possessions, but with skills and potential. They build, educate, and contribute to America.
Joseph Johnson is currently a senior in high school and will be graduating in May. He is the youngest of four and one of my favorite hobbies is wood working.
America is in reach, finally. It has taken so long. You would need to have the memory of an elephant to remember each step. However the excitement, one can compare this to a gazelle being startled by a lion. There is so much fear as I was able to see the Statue of Liberty. All I have ever heard about is the American dream. Having the white fence and the house and family around me. Being able to work as whatever I wanted, and not something I was forced to do like serving in the military for a country that I did not trust. A military that uses children as soldiers. (sorry emotional warfare.)
However in America they are free. In America, everyone has a job. Once I become a citizen, I will be able to vote and do my part for America. The fair justice system, as well as police officers that follow the law. I cannot wait for my family to join me in this new world in 3 months. America here I am. America is for all those who want to be free and provide for their family which is what I want as well as getting away from forced religion. America, you are my future, not only for me but my family. It is a long process but it will be worth it.
I will be able to live. It’s my turn to enter America. I will write you as soon as I can. America here I am!
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