58 letters on the American Dream from San Marcos University students, San Diego, California, USA
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Letter 50: Heather Emerick

A few days ago in my Life Long Learning class, my fellow students and I looked and critiqued a mural that represented immigration or a concept called the “American Dream.” I thought that the mural related to my family in a good way because it portrayed immigration. Both sides of my family are one hundred percent German, which also makes me fifth generation German. I know this because relatives on both sides of my family have researched our family trees and linked everything back to Germany. My guess for my ancestors immigrating to America was because of the “American Dream.” To me the “American Dream” is coming to America, getting work, being able to have money to spend on a home, the ability to have and to support a family in a home, and being satisfied with oneself for the success of starting a new life in a new country. I believe that the “American Dream” is something that my great-grandmother’s family came to America for. They immigrated in the early 1800’s and slowly but surely made their way to Nebraska. There they moved to a small German community. They ran the biggest farm in their small town. My great-grandmother’s family was a very traditional German family. They spoke only German, no English. They were also taught in German only. Their day-to-day life included everyone working on the farm everyday with the men outside and the women inside. The boys were the only ones who were allowed to go to school, and the girls were not allowed. Until the day she died, my great-grandmother thought that this is the way that things should be and how homes should be run. Men work, women stay home, and everyone in the family should speak only German. She always tried to apply these traditions to our family. Unfortunately the traditions have been lost because of how old-fashioned they are. However, I really wish that my grandmother had not lost the ability to speak German and could teach it to my mother who would then have been able to teach it to me. I have always wanted to be able to speak German at home and with my relatives. I think it would be really neat because whenever I would be on the phone with my mom, I would be able to speak German with her, and nobody would know what I was saying. It would be a good way to talk about people while you’re standing right next to them. I also think it would be very unique. There aren’t too many people in America that speak primarily German in their homes, especially not in my small hometown. Everyone there speaks either Spanish or English. Although I don’t speak German, I am proud to be of German decent and I would really like to visit Germany some day. You never know, maybe I will take a German class while I am in college so I can come to Germany and successfully get myself around the country.