Chapter 1: From Eritrea to the United States, the importance of culture ˗ Adonay Gebrehiwot - academic experience Worldwide e.V.

Chapter 1: From Eritrea to the United States, the importance of culture ˗ Adonay Gebrehiwot

In the 80’s my parents relocated in the U.S. from their home country Eritrea to experience the American dream. Growing up, it was clear I was living in two completely different worlds. Born in the states, I quickly absorbed American culture. Ironically, being American seemed to coincide whenever I was outside my home. My personality adapted to the culture in all aspects including clothing, sports, friendship, food, etc. Whereas inside my home, our Eritrean roots became dominant. As a family we were accustomed to Eritrean food, coffee, movies, music, and so on. Inside we spoke Tigrinya, one of the native languages of Eritrea. When we were outside we spoke English, a constant reminder we were living far away from our native land. Even until today, the same pattern follows.

 

My parents knew the importance of culture, and I believe they tried everything they could to make us familiar with our roots. Looking back, this is the most valuable lesson they taught me. My earliest childhood memories involve Eritrean social events. From weddings, birthdays, festivals, or just the casual Sunday brunch, we were always interacting with other members of the Eritrean community. It was almost as if everyone was identical acting synchronously.

 

For my parents, they wanted to ensure we did not lose our identity while growing up in the west. Since I was born in the states, it was easy adjusting to both lives. But I think for others who immigrate at an older age, making this transition can be quite difficult. The main challenge involves learning a new language. Unable to communicate with others on a daily basis is challenging. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for my parents who moved to the states with five children. Speaking no English, it must have been extremely exhausting at times.

 

Completely distinguishable from their previous life, my parents worked extremely hard to adjust. It’s important to practice the language constantly, as well as socializing with people to get a feel for western culture. Playing sports is also beneficial in terms of socializing. Anyone can understand the concept of a team game without fully communicating verbally.

 

Adjusting to the American way of life was very difficult for my parents. But no matter how hard it seemed, they were never discouraged. They also worked strenuous occupations shifting throughout the day. You would think they would show signs of stress, but I have no memory of such expression. They were always positive and never revealed weakness in front of us. They reminded us how fortunate all of us were to live in a place where opportunities were endless. A childhood education was absent for my parents. But their children would now have the chance to attend a university. Every day, we were reminded to be grateful and to take advantage of the opportunity.

 

Looking back at my life, I am truly lucky. To be the only child from both family lineages to be born in the states is truly remarkable. I always remind myself of this from time to time. Many relatives passed away during the war for independence, so their children can have a better future. If I did not work hard and make something out of myself, I know their sacrifice would have been for nothing, I cannot let them down. Most importantly, one day I hope to return to Eritrea and educate students of the scientific knowledge I have accumulated over the years. I am proud to be Eritrean, and I thank my parents for teaching us about our culture.

 

For many immigrants, leaving home is always tough. But you have to remind yourself what’s at stake. Readjusting to a completely new society is hard only for a short term. Soon you will fit in assimilating to the culture. In the long term, you will have the opportunity to start an education, career, and even a family. Most importantly, you will have the resources to invest in your own country one day. I know this because I witnessed my parents go through it firsthand.

 

Thank you.

 

My name is Adonay Gebrehiwot (24) and I am currently pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Goethe University. I grew up in the U.S. along with my family who immigrated from Eritrea in the 1980's. From my writings, I hope to share my experience of what its like growing up in a foreign country.

My name is Adonay Gebrehiwot (24) and I am currently pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Goethe University. I grew up in the U.S. along with my family who immigrated from Eritrea in the 1980’s. From my writings, I hope to share my experience of what its like growing up in a foreign country.

In the 80’s my parents relocated in the U.S. from their home country Eritrea to experience the American dream. Growing up, it was clear I was living in two completely different worlds. Born in the states, I quickly absorbed American culture. Ironically, being American seemed to coincide whenever I was outside my home. My personality adapted to the culture in all aspects including clothing, sports, friendship, food, etc. Whereas inside my home, our Eritrean roots became dominant. As a family we were accustomed to Eritrean food, coffee, movies, music, and so on. Inside we spoke Tigrinya, one of the native languages of Eritrea. When we were outside we spoke English, a constant reminder we were living far away from our native land. Even until today, the same pattern follows.

 

My parents knew the importance of culture, and I believe they tried everything they could to make us familiar with our roots. Looking back, this is the most valuable lesson they taught me. My earliest childhood memories involve Eritrean social events. From weddings, birthdays, festivals, or just the casual Sunday brunch, we were always interacting with other members of the Eritrean community. It was almost as if everyone was identical acting synchronously.

 

For my parents, they wanted to ensure we did not lose our identity while growing up in the west. Since I was born in the states, it was easy adjusting to both lives. But I think for others who immigrate at an older age, making this transition can be quite difficult. The main challenge involves learning a new language. Unable to communicate with others on a daily basis is challenging. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for my parents who moved to the states with five children. Speaking no English, it must have been extremely exhausting at times.

 

Completely distinguishable from their previous life, my parents worked extremely hard to adjust. It’s important to practice the language constantly, as well as socializing with people to get a feel for western culture. Playing sports is also beneficial in terms of socializing. Anyone can understand the concept of a team game without fully communicating verbally.

 

Adjusting to the American way of life was very difficult for my parents. But no matter how hard it seemed, they were never discouraged. They also worked strenuous occupations shifting throughout the day. You would think they would show signs of stress, but I have no memory of such expression. They were always positive and never revealed weakness in front of us. They reminded us how fortunate all of us were to live in a place where opportunities were endless. A childhood education was absent for my parents. But their children would now have the chance to attend a university. Every day, we were reminded to be grateful and to take advantage of the opportunity.

 

Looking back at my life, I am truly lucky. To be the only child from both family lineages to be born in the states is truly remarkable. I always remind myself of this from time to time. Many relatives passed away during the war for independence, so their children can have a better future. If I did not work hard and make something out of myself, I know their sacrifice would have been for nothing, I cannot let them down. Most importantly, one day I hope to return to Eritrea and educate students of the scientific knowledge I have accumulated over the years. I am proud to be Eritrean, and I thank my parents for teaching us about our culture.

 

For many immigrants, leaving home is always tough. But you have to remind yourself what’s at stake. Readjusting to a completely new society is hard only for a short term. Soon you will fit in assimilating to the culture. In the long term, you will have the opportunity to start an education, career, and even a family. Most importantly, you will have the resources to invest in your own country one day. I know this because I witnessed my parents go through it firsthand.

 

Thank you.


My name is Adonay Gebrehiwot (24) and I am currently pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Goethe University. I grew up in the U.S. along with my family who immigrated from Eritrea in the 1980’s. From my writings, I hope to share my experience of what its like growing up in a foreign country