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Informal interview with immigrant from kenya - Essay Example

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Moses Munene, A Kenyan immigrant who immigrated to USA in 1995 after completing his undergraduate studies in Philosophy in Kenya. Mr. Munene was 24 when he immigrated to USA through the USA Green…
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Informal interview with immigrant from kenya
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Informal Interview with Immigrant The following is a verbatim record of the interview that I carried out with Mr. Moses Munene, A Kenyan immigrant who immigrated to USA in 1995 after completing his undergraduate studies in Philosophy in Kenya. Mr. Munene was 24 when he immigrated to USA through the USA Green Card Program.
Question: Mr. Munene, I want to thank you a lot for accepting to share with me some personal information, challenges, stories you had when you first enter USA. Let me start with asking about an important factor in communicating with Americans, which is English language. When you came to USA, did you speak English?
Answer: Yes, in my country the official languages are Kiswahili and English. As a matter of fact, every educated Kenyan speaks very good English.
Question: Mr Munene, in your view, how do the Americans behave differently from the people of your culture?
Response: The Americans and the people of my culture behave in quite different ways. For instance, in greetings, the people of my culture shake hands warmly and heartily; in American culture, however, although people shake hands in greetings, the shaking of the hands is not done in a warm and cheerful manner. Also, according to my culture, public expression of romantic feelings is discouraged; in fact, according to my culture, it sounds a bit odd to tell your lover publicly that you love her. For that reason therefore, dating in my culture is quite different from dating in the American culture- in my culture, rarely do the dating couple express their romantic feelings in public as is the case in American culture. Again, in socializing, the people of culture behave quite differently from the American people. This is because the people of my culture consider the community to be more important than the individual, for that reason, therefore, the people of my culture are quite united as a community, unlike the American people who are individualistic and who regard the individual to be more important than the community/society.
Question: Can you Please, Mr. Munene, describe to me the situations in which you felt misunderstood when you arrived in USA?
Answer: There are two main situations in which I felt completely misunderstood when I arrived to America. In the first situation, on the first day of my arrival, I extended my hand in greetings to all the people I interacted with at the airport. To my surprise, many of the people I extended hands to in greetings looked at me suspiciously and they did not shake my hands; I really felt misunderstood by these people and ever since I wait for the people to first extend their hands in greetings before I extend my hand and shake them in greetings. In the second incident, on my second week in America, I held my friend’s hand, my compatriot Mr. Eric Odhiambo, as we were walking along the road; to our surprise, the people looked at us suspiciously. I later learnt that the people who looked at us suspiciously thought that we were gays; in my culture, holding hands among people of the same sex is never associated with being gays or lesbians. I really felt so much misunderstood in this incident. At the time, same-sex relationships were totally unimaginable. Thus, back in Kenya we would walk holding hands innocently and no one would think of us being gay.
Question: So, if I may ask, what was your biggest reason for coming to America Mr. Munene?
Yes, I had always wanted to come to America since my childhood, but this always remained just a dream. That was until I got frustrated trying to find a meaningful job back at home. There were many of us graduating from university yet there were no job opportunities for most of us. And so, when I turned successful in the USA Green Card Program, I thought why not try my luck in another country. After all, America had always been termed the land of opportunity. That is how I immigrated to America.
When I first arrived in America, I was received by my relatives who took care of me for the first two weeks. Thereafter, we parted ways and I would only meet them a couple of times in a year. I got enrolled for my master’s degree in Engineering and it was after completing my studies that I secured my first decent job in America. However, while studying I took up odd jobs that would earn me some little money. You know, if people called from home asking how I was doing in America I would never tell them I had no decent job yet. Of course, I would tell them that I had a job, but never reveal to them the nature of the job. Their expectations were extremely high and I was in no position to disappoint them with negative stories.
Question: What would you describe as the most surprising things that you experienced upon arriving in America Mr. Munene?
Answer: One of the things that really surprised me upon arriving in America is the high level of public infrastructural development in USA as compared to my country. In particular, I was surprised to find that all the public roads in America, including the roads in remote area of the country, are well-tarmacked and well maintained. Additionally, I would also say that I got really surprised at how fast things were in America. People are extremely time-conscious and usually have no time to waste. Back in Kenya, we would occasionally sit in informal groups in the evening hours to discuss political issues affecting the country. Generally, things are much slower in Kenya as compared to America. The other thing that particularly surprised me upon my arrival in America was the fact that it was not easy to get a job in America as I thought before coming to America. My main aim of coming to America was actually to find a well-paying job; I had tried in vain to find a good job in Kenya and for that reason I thought that moving to America would help me to easily find a well-paying job. To my surprise, it took me four years before I could find a well-paying job and I actually had to do a master’s degree in Engineering before I could find the job; after doing the master’s degree, I was employed as an Engineering teacher in a college. These two things really surprised me upon my arrival in America.
Question: What are the most challenges did you experience Mr Munene, as you were adjusting to life in the United States?
Answer: The greatest challenge that I went through as I was adjusting to life in USA was loneliness and difficulty in finding new friends in America. In my first three months in USA, I really missed my friends back home in Kenya and I had difficulty finding friends in USA; building friendship with people of different culture and different worldview was quite a challenge to me. With time, however, I managed to make some few friends and now I have a very rich social life in America. The second major challenge that I went through in America was getting used to American diet. Although American diet did not taste unpalatable to me, it took time, however, before I could get used to it; I really missed the Kenyan diet throughout my first year in the United States. You know, sometimes it just felt like I hadn’t eaten “real food” in a long time. However, with time I got to appreciate the American food.
Question: Mr. Munene, Would you like to ask me any question regarding the American culture so that I can share you my understanding to the American Culture from middle eastern view?
Answer: Yes, of course. The question that I would like to ask you is: what is the general American view on dressing? I have always wanted to understand the American philosophy of dressing and fashion in general. Besides, I would like to know how people treat you when they see you in Arabian clothing and, of course, the idea of veiling.
My Response: Well, you should understand two things about American culture Mr.Munene before you understand their philosophy of dressing. First, you should understand that the USA society has a liberal view of dressing. Secondly, there are no major cultural restrictions in the United States on dressing. For that reason, therefore, people are free to dress in whichever manner they wish as long as they dress decently, and they do not violate the principle of public decency. This is quite different from my own background in the Middle East, especially if you are a woman. The dress code is such an important issue in the Middle East as it is part of the long-standing Arabian culture for women to veil. However, for men the situation is a bit different because the culture is a bit liberal on their dress code. Of course, people here feel that women from the Middle East are unduly oppressed because their dress code is restricted. While it is true to some extent, the general perception here is tremendously exaggerated. The practice of veiling, for instance, is a mark of respect for women from the Middle East and that is the reason most of us revere it. However, that’s not how people look at it here. You would not be surprised at someone sympathising with you publicly for veiling. You know, you really get the feeling that you are totally misunderstood.
A Description of the difference in nonverbal communication between my interviewee and me
The main difference in nonverbal communication between me and my interviewee is that my interviewee seemed quite enthusiastic while expressing various aspects of his culture, but he seemed less enthusiastic while expressing various aspects of American culture as he understood the American culture; for me, however, I maintained the same tone throughout the interview and I did not raise or lower my tone as I interviewed or explained something to my interviewee.
A Description of the different worldviews between me and my interviewee
In interviewing Mr. Munene, I have realized that Mr. Munene has a conservative worldview while I have a liberal worldview. Mr. Munene views the world through the conservative lens while I view the world through the liberal lens.
A Description of my Reaction to this Interviewee
Before I conducted this interview, the main stereotype that I had of the Kenyan immigrants was that Kenyan immigrants never fully integrated into the American society; the other misconception that I had of Kenyan immigrants was that Kenyan immigrants view their culture as being superior to other cultures. Through this interview, however, I have realized that Kenyan immigrants actually get fully integrated into American culture, although the integration takes quite some time. Through the interview, I have also learnt that the Kenyan immigrants do not regard their culture as being superior to other cultures; the interview actually made me to learn that Kenyan immigrants appreciates positive aspects of other cultures. Read More
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