The Oral Autobiographies Of Maria Detsios Spano From Greece

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In many ways, the experiences of immigrants in 19th century America were similar. They were outsiders to the dominant American culture, and left their country in search of freedom and liberty. However, through careful study of Greek, German and Chinese individual’s oral histories, we can see that immigrants’ experiences varied based on their homeland. The discrepancies in their experiences become most apparent when examining the differences in the immigrant’s treatment upon arrival to America, occupations and education, as well as the assimilation process once in America. In this essay, I will refer to the oral autobiographies of Maria Detsios Spano from Greece, Stefan Weissing and Theresia Brinkhaus Weissing from Germany, and Edward Hong from China.

Even though each individual entered America legally, they all faced differential treatment once they arrived. In his interview, Edward Hong recalls his family’s initial experiences at Angels Island in San Francisco. After arriving after the eighteen-day journey from China, the Hong family was detained at Angel Island for weeks. The family had to go through rigorous interviews and were required to stay in poor-living conditions throughout the lengthy interrogation process. The housing provided was packed and did not offer a positive first impression. As authorities were often skeptical with the legitimacy of the paper work Chinese immigrant provided, The Hongs were not the only family held at Angel Island. Without clearance,
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