Some immigrants spent their first nights at the YMCA. Others saw snow for the first time. Some people didn’t mean to end up here at all. What do you — or your parents or grandparents — remember about your first days in the US? Submit your story to the South Asian American Digital Archive's First Days Project.
When he first arrived in America, Afghan student Ali Shahidy knew his English was ready to tackle the tough language of academia. But he never expected to be tripped up by lunch at a fast food restaurant.
Moving schools is tough enough but imagine flying in from another country and plonking down in a new classroom in a new culture. Gilli Danenberg moved from Israel to the US at the age of 7. She remembers second grade as one long string of embarrassing incidents.
Bomba Estéreo's Liliana Saumet was blown away by New York, it's mix of music and performing daytime concerts in Central Park. "Seeing families, with children, coming out to picnic and catch the show. I loved that," she says.
Raphael Nzirubusa remembers feeling torn about staying in the US or joining his family in Burundi while war escalated there in the early 1990s. A priest in the US warned against leaving and told Nzirubusa, "We’ll pray for you, but you’re going to have to stay."
Imagine having the chair pulled out from under you the second you walk into a US classroom. Tanzid Sakib can laugh about it now. The teenager from Bangladesh recalls his first days of public school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A brother and sister remember their abrupt start to a new life in America after they fled collapsing South Vietnam. It's one story among the many collected by StoryCorps from Vietnamese refugees whose lives were changed by the fall of Saigon in 1975.