A child with immigrant parents grows up quickly

Columnist Youdline Joseph

My father left his native country of Haiti at age 26, shortly after he married my mother. This was all to set the foundation for new beginnings with his soon-to-be family of five. 

At a young age, it never occurred to me that my parents were immigrants. We did mostly everything that other families did. 

Being raised in the Haitian culture has influenced me in numerous ways but has also forced me to take on roles that most adolescents are not familiar with.

Accompanying my mother to fill out job applications, translating for my parents when they did not know the right words to say, and finally, filing for citizenship through me when I turned 21, were all memories that I savor the most.

Fulfilling these duties for my parents showed me that the role I serve in my parents’ lives is more than just a daughter. I’m also a trusted mentor.

Senior public relations major Catisha Joseph is also a child of Haitian parents. She speaks about some of the effects she experienced growing up.

“Being raised in an immigrant household influenced me to embrace my culture and accept it. Also it instilled in me a strong work ethic, early independence, and to stand up for what I believe in at all times,” Joseph said.

The sacrifices that my parents had to make can never amount to the translations I have done for them. What I have done for them cannot surpass the lessons they have shown me.

The question, “Why don’t your parents just apply to become citizens,” occasionally pops up from time to time. If it were that easy my parents would have become citizens 20 years ago. 

Leaving my home to attend FAMU was one of the hardest decisions for me. Knowing that I may be leaving my parents to do things on their own scared me.

Would they be able to speak to a representative if they felt like they were being treated unfairly?

Would they be able to complete their day to day lives without me being present?

Social work major Keslene Etienne discussed how much of an impact it was for her to leave her home.

“I served a huge role in my household when I lived with my mom, but after leaving to go off to college it taught my mother to learn how to do certain things on her own without relying on me,” said Etienne.

The hard work and dedication of immigrants in America are unmatched. Fighting to be accepted by society and constantly having to work your way up is an everyday battle.

Bio pre-med major Marie Alexandre believes her drive and determination were passed on by watching her parents do it every day.

“My immigrant parents influenced me to be the woman I am today. I believe my self-identification was molded from the both of them. I continue to go hard every day in order to make them proud for they have always done the same,” Alexandre said.