Our Families Then and Now

Drawings by Grecia Bartolo.  

Students in Ms. Tomesek classes wrote essays about how their roles of family members have changed in the U.S. We have selected only a small part from longer essays that the students wrote.

     My family always gathers even just for coffee. It’s like when I got back from school I always saw my family. My father had to work. He worked five days a week. My mother always went to church, visited her sister and spent time with other families. Besides that she stayed home doing something that all mothers do, like cooking, cleaning and other things. I went school spent time with my friends and my sister. There are few things that my family and I did every day of life in my country.
     When I think about how my family looks like now, it’s totally different. My father is not working. He just came here to spend time with us and he is going back to his home country. My mother is the one who is working and taking care of us, as well as two older brothers. Both are in college. The one who is older than me is no longer living with us. So that leaves my mother, two brothers (older and younger) my cousin and me. My mother doesn’t have enough time. She works. After work most of the time she gets tired so she goes straight to bed. Every so often there is a time my mom and my older brother don’t see each other for two or three days. We don’t have that much of time for each other. My sister is far from us, and we only contact her by phone. We don’t have that big of a family, but thank God we have this family.

     My grand father worked everyday to give us the basic necessities. He also was a counselor about what we needed to know. Every weekend, he told us to go to church to give thanks to god.
My grandmother accepted the obligation to meet the children’s needs. She also cleaned the house and cooked. In the afternoon we helped my grandmother to clean the house, cook and other things, like taking care of a children. My father worked everyday. My mother began her day by cleaning the house. Then, she took care of me. Then she cooked the food.
     In the U.S. my father works in the morning. In the night he takes care of my little sister who is growing so fast. During the weekend we go to church. My mother’s roles have changed a lot because she works full time work. In the night she works a part time. She also teaches good manners to my little sister. My little sister has just a few roles. Right now she goes to school. My roles have changed a lot, too but this is because I think that I am getting older and in my country I lived my whole childhood. So here I go to school during the day. In the afternoon I prepare my own food. In the night I work part time. In the weekend I just relax and go anywhere.

     In the Congo I used to speak French in school, but here we have to speak English. In Congo we had restaurants, but not like Taco Bell, McDonalds or Papa John’s. However, in the U.S.A we have all of that. The religion is important in Congo and here too, except in the Congo we can dance Jamp Olo whatever we want for Jesus. In the church here you just sing with the book of song. School is also important in both countries.           
     In U.S.A things really changed like my two lovely sisters, Tabitha and Katy. Before Katy had to do dishes, clean, go to church and school, but the thing is she didn’t work before. Now she has two jobs and she is really busy. She doesn’t clean anymore. For Tabitha it’s like the same thing – do the dishes and clean the house in Congo. And since she got here nothing changed except the language.

     My roles in the Dominican Republic were go to school and, roles that I didn’t like, were to clean the house, clean the dishes, clean the bathroom and floor. Now my roles in the United States are to go to school, and roles that now I love, do my homework, go to the church and take care of myself.
     My family roles and values in the D.R were to be united, doing the right things and having conversation – talking to my grand father about something important etc. Now my family’s roles are working together to support the family and going the church. We still discus the important decisions. But I think that some roles have changed because in this country we have to work to survive and we don’t have time.

     In Brazil I used to go outside every day to play with my friends. I used to play soccer, basketball, and a lot other sports. My whole family used to have meetings every Saturday for lunch together and play.
In the USA I barely go outside to play with my friends. I’m always playing on the computer, playing video games, and watching TV. In the USA we don’t have that meeting anymore because I left my family in Brazil.

     In my family my mom had a big role. She didn't have job. She cooked our food. She washed our clothes. She was always busy at home. My brother and my sister went to school everyday. After school my sister and I helped my mom. We cleaned the room. My cousin helped us to be strong students. He helped our homework assignments. Every time he bought books.
     After I moved to Kenya my life was changed. We didn't know anybody in Kenya. We didn't have family in Kenya. We spent a lot of the time at home.
     I after I moved to the U.S.A our family life changed again. Like in Kenya everyday we have to go to school, but it is different from Kenya. The school and family have a good relation. The teachers call our family when they want to talk to my family. After school we take care of my niece. My sister she has a job. In Kenya all of us, my dad, my brother and my sister, were together at breakfast, lunch , dinner time. But here no one eats together. When we came back to school my sister already went to her job, my dad, too. When my sister comes back home my dad is asleep. Also we can't go to mosque. It is too far and no one has time to go there at that time. Every body has a job.

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