When Evanna Hu and her family came to the US, they were poor. She just didn’t know it because she was surrounded by other low-income immigrant families in Columbus, Ohio. Here's the story of her first days in America.
Nayomi Munaweera was born in Sri Lanka, raised in Nigeria — and then fled that country for the US after a coup. Now, she's published her first novel and recounts the difficulties of learning the ins and outs of teen life in Los Angeles, including her first encounters with hairspray.
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.
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."
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.
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.
The World is collecting stories about immigrants' first days in the US. It's a project inspired by the South Asian American Digital Archive. Here is a submission from Hossain Zaré Khiabani. He's from Iran and moved to San Francisco in 1986.