Blended: Richard

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What’s your ethnic background?

My mom is Peruvian and my dad is Chinese, I was born here.

Does it bother you when people ask about your ethnic background?

No, it doesn’t bother me at all. People just get confused with why I speak Spanish, then I just let them know. I usually make it simple and say I was born here, I’m American, but if they ask where my parents are from I just tell them my mom is from Peru and my dad is Chinese.

Do you visit each country often?

Not as often as I’d like to, but I was just in Peru a couple years ago. China, I need to go visit; I haven’t been to China since I was 15. I don’t really have any direct family in China. In Peru, I have a lot of family. Both my mom’s side and my dad’s side I have a lot of family down in Peru.

Did your parents meet in Peru?

My dad met my mom in Peru when he was 20 or 22, he went to Peru when he was 17 or 18 and was raised by his grandmother. Then they moved here and he was always working, particularly the upper west side [NYC] and decided to open this restaurant.

Do you identify with one side more than the other?

Not really. I just say that I’m mixed, I grew up with a lot of Asian-American kids, all or most of my friends are Chinese-American. Since I grew up with them, they’ll just consider me Chinese-American, they don’t really see the other side of me where I have to speak Spanish, that’s just mainly for work, I don’t really have to speak it outside of work, except in my home. At home, my mother spoke to me in Spanish growing up.

Do you feel that one of your communities outcasted you?

Growing up in Queens there weren’t too many Peruvians. Naturally, I just stuck with whatever was more comfortable to be around, since I look Chinese/Asian I kind of just naturally wanted to hang out around other people that looked just like me. I think that’s just natural human reaction, but being outcasted, no, I never felt that way even towards the hispanic culture.

Did you ever feel like you had an identity crisis?

No, never.

Do you think there’s a struggle growing up mixed race?

Yea, because it wasn’t that common [around the 90’s], it was looked weird upon. But, its something very common nowadays. Growing up in the 90’s in Queens, it wasn’t that nice, I grew up in the very hispanic neighborhood. It was my family and another two Asian families on that block and we were just treated a little bit more differently because we didn’t look hispanic. So just growing up in that neighborhood was a little bit tough, for me, but we just adjusted and adapted. I mean, until I was 10 I grew up with hispanic kids and they weren’t that nice to me. They were kind of like, “What are you doing here on my block, you’re Chinese.” I didn’t have a nice childhood, but I adapted.

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Coming to America: Giulia

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Place of Origin: Merate, Italy

When did you move to America?

I came to America on August 5th, 2013. Right after I finished high school.

What’s the one thing you miss the most in Italy?

I miss the way of life and my family. Even though things are changing, in Italy, people still pay attention to having a balanced life. People still cook with good quality food, they walk a lot, they simply enjoy hanging out in a park or on a bench in the main square. The contact with nature in most of the country is still very important. Moreover, my entire family is still there: my mom, dad, sister, niece, brother, everyone! During holidays and festivities is when I miss them the most, but I also miss even just having a good chat with my sister on a regular day.

What were some challenges, if any, that you faced?

My family’s disapproval. I was in the country completely alone and I was lacking of their support.They were not thrilled of the fact that I was going to leave for the U.S. for an entire year, and when I extended for an additional 12 months they were very upset.

What’s the one thing you like the most about America?

I like the intercultural exchange the most. I love that I can meet people from all over the world, get to know their stories and their culture, and, if I’m lucky, a little bit of their language. I think it makes me richer as a person and teaches me on so many different levels. I also like that, at least in my experience, everyone seems approachable. For example, if you are introduced to a person that has quite an important job or is a “big shot,” and you later send them an email, you have pretty good chances that they answer. It does not really work like that in Italy.

What do you dislike the most about America?

I don’t like the falsity with which people tell you, you have all the opportunities in front of you. I have been looking, and it has not been easy, especially for an immigrant, to see all the opportunities they are talking about. The American dream is just a dream, unless you have a couple of degrees, no students loans, and quite some money already. There are opportunities if you are willing to work for free mostly. Sometimes I really understand why people decide to come here illegally or just work under the table. Sometimes it is the only way you can have some of those opportunities.
 
Due to your situation, if you had the choice, would you rather live in America or Italy?
 
I think I will want to live in Italy, and this is why I think I am moving back. I just enjoy the lifestyle better there. Also, for me to get another visa or to start the application for the green card costs just way too much money. I do not have the resources now to stay here.