Light at the End of the Tunnel

Though there are many downsides that new Americans are faced with when they come to America, there are also many immigrant students who have good experiences that outweigh the bad.  While most are bullied for their accents or clothing or choice in music, etc. there are also a large portion of students who don’t have those unfortunate experiences.

For one student who came from Bosnia to America in 2013, Adina Spahalic, she has had mostly good experience.  Coming to Erie, Pa to attend a local high school and play tennis, she faced some of the similar stories that many other new American students have.  She recalls, “in Bosnia, we would call lettuce ‘green salad’ in literal translation, and I would always say ‘green salad’ when I first moved here and people would always laugh at that.”  This is just another tell tale story of a new American trying to overcome the boundaries that come with living in a country that doesn’t speak your native language.  Spahalic even remembers that the way people would laugh at her mis-translations was mockingly, not endearingly.  Another recollection was when she would go to fast food restaurant establishments: “The menus were so complicated and I would need a long time to decide what I want, and people in line behind me would get angry with how long I was taking. I would get rolling of eyes from the people in line.”

Beyond these small instances when Spahalic had to deal with the rude, impatient behavior of Americans who don’t have the compassion or empathy for people coming to America and all the adjustments they had to make, she overall has had a pretty positive experience since being in America.

Today, Spahalic has state champion tennis titles under her belt, as well as a continuing education at a local college in Erie, Pa.  While she did spend some time back in her home country between her completion of high school and beginning of college, she has hopes to get her degree here in America and find a job and become a permanent resident of the country.

She has had her fair share of being made fun for her Bosnian accent; however she shares that a majority of the reactions she has gotten from Americans about her accent have been that they find it “cute.” Additionally, she stated, “People usually respond very positively to the fact that I’m from a different country and usually ask me a bunch of questions.  I do get teased for my accent but I wouldn’t call it bullying because no one has made me feel especially badly about the way I speak.”

In a demographic that is known to have to endure plenty of bullying and shaming and even abuse, it is a refreshing fact that there are also many new American individuals who have had nothing but mostly positive experiences and are happy they are able to come here.  Spahalic’s situation is definitely somewhat rare, considering she came here by choice and has had an education set up for her as well as a very successful athletic career in addition to having plenty of good experiences here.

With the increasing numbers of immigrants infiltrating into America from other countries every single year, it’s in the hopes of many that welcoming and empathetic behavior will only increase as well so more new Americans can feel nothing but welcomed and loved in “the land of opportunity” and truly live the “American dream.”



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