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My Family History

By: Jay Vyas
College Now Course - BSS 1

Like many stories of American family history, mine is a tale of two peoples' travels into the United States of America. They had to deal with different hardships along the way as well as in the country. As they lived in America, they found it not to be so easy. These people, my parents, traveled from two different countries alone into the United States to start a new life in a land where the sky was the limit.

My father, Mahesh Chotalal Vyas, came to the U.S. from Bombay, India. He went to school in Bombay, India and had seen men from the U.S. giving out applications for Visas to enter the U.S. My father had seen this as an opportunity. Everyone talked of America as a promise land. A land where any man had a chance to make it big. He took this chance and applied.

Once my father received an approval he was on his way to America! He was 28 years old when he had left India to make a new life for himself. My father had come to Chicago to study and go into business. It was a hard beginning for him though. He had come to the U.S. with only 5 dollars in his pocket and some luggage. In order to get by, he had to borrow money from friends and relatives that already resided in the U.S. From here on it didn't get any easier.

My father went to North Eastern Business University. In order to pay for living accommodations in an apartment, and other things, he had to work. He worked as a cab driver some odd years to get by. He had to go to school as well so, after school he would work. It was tough times, but he knew he would get through it.

Money was not the only problem in coming here. It was a totally new land, different people, new customs, and very different weather from what he was used to. He had come from a land where it was usually always hot. Chicago was very different to him and was hard to get used to. Temperatures reached single digits at sometimes and this was very new to him, as well as being a great hassle. Weather was one of the many problems he had. He had to face being alone in a new land as well as some prejudice. He knew some relatives and some friends but he was still alone. It seemed like it was him verses the world but he worked hard to get through it. After having many different jobs such as a cab driver and Sears employee, he found his calling in being an insurance and mortgage agent. In the end his hard work paid off with a successful job and family.

My fathers story is almost similar to the one of my mothers, Nenita Presas Yvas. She had lived in Pangsinan, Philippines for most of her young life. Like many young kids she wanted to see the world. She wanted to see America. Coming here was actually not very difficult for her, for U.S. officials were giving passports to nurses in the Philippines to enter America. My mother thought this was a good idea. She had always wanted to see America, so she retrieved a passport.

My mother was 23 years of age when she left the Philippines. She never thought she would have stayed. She thought it was just a temporary thing, but everything changed. Like my father before, my mother arrived in Chicago in 1979. She arrived with only two luggage and two hundred dollars in cash. Unlike my father, she knew no one. The only person she knew was a Mrs. Lydia in Chicago.

The change was very drastic for her. She knew no one, and knew none of the customs. The weather was also a big change. The Philippines was a very warm country, and to come to Chicago was a big difference. She remembers the winter vividly. Having never seen snow my mother lived through one of the biggest blizzards in the U.S. It was the blizzard of January 20, 1079. It was very cold for her. She had cried many nights for she was alone, in a different country and had no friends but one relative. It took her three years to adjust to American customs, weather, etc. All she had was her credentials of being a nurse.

It was especially hard for my mother for she could not drive. This was very bad in Chicago for when the weather dropped drastically, she had to walk to where she wanted to go. My mother also went through some hard times when she was cheated from money and robbed. Not only did she have to live in a new country, but she was also conned and robbed of her things. At this point things were not looking so well, but she stood strong.

In Chicago, she met my father at a train station. They became friends but then he had moved to Staten Island, New York and my mother moved to Texas for five months. She then moved to Staten Island and coincidentally found my father. They later became married.

Her strength and courage to come to this country alone was phenomenal. Her hard work of being a nurse brought her much success, she now works at the Egger nursing home.

Coming to America was not easy for parents. My brother and I are the first of my family to be born in America. Luckily, we have it much easier than our parents. They had gone through much hardships just to make the lives of their selves and mainly their family better. I look up to them and have much respect for the courage they had shown in coming to American, the land of dreams.