What were some conflicts that immigrants to the U.S. in the late 1800s and early 1900s faced between their old culture and the new culture they encountered in America?

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Then, as now, the challenge for an immigrant is to maintain some sort of emotional connection to his or her homeland, while learning a new language and new customs, beginning a new education or a new job/career, or even both, and dealing in all of these things with a variety of people who may or may not have overly tolerant feelings toward, and interest in helping the newcomer.  Ernesto Garza writes of this phenomenon in his memoir, Barrio Boy, pointing out that it was only through the efforts of a sensitive and patient elementary school teacher that he learned to appreciate his new country, while understanding that he could still retain pride in his Mexican heritage.  Perhaps no one can truly understand the immigrant experience except those who have been through it.  In one example of the "American dream" attained, the late Frank McCourt was an Irish immigrant who grew up in dire poverty before crossing "the pond" to New York City to find success first as a high school English instructor, then ultimately a prize winning author.  Although McCourt faced the same challenges as any immigrant, he was able to surmount those challenges with relatively little conflict, always maintaining that his joy at becoming an American more than outweighed the hassles and conflicts of acculturation. 


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