Immigration Interview Project
Jan Behrens is a fourteen year old Brazilian-born German who immigrated into the United States from Brazil on June 20, 2006. I’ve chosen to interview them because they’ve experienced and can remember multiple foreign cultures from before they moved to America.
Jan Behrens was born in São Paulo, Brazil, which at the time was the third biggest city in the world. His childhood home, food, clothing, and life were more German and American than Brazilian, because of the cultural heritage of his parents and the location of his home in a more developed and wealthy area of the city where the unique culture of Brazil was less prominent. His father brought a lot of the German culture to their home with German cooking, music, and traditions. His mother brought a lot of the American side to their home as she was born and raised in the United States. However, Jan was still exposed to a lot of Brazilian culture, such as TV shows, movies, music, and food from others in the family’s area.
Due to the fact that the majority of the city was very undeveloped and poor, and due to a new job opportunity in Cincinnati for his father at a company called Cognis, Jan’s family prepared to emigrate. Jan was anxious about the trip and not prepared to lose his childhood friends like José, Andy, and Luís, and was deathly afraid for such a big and permanent change in his life. After he boarded the non-stop flight with fear and anxiety, went to his new home, and settled into the U.S., he found himself lonely without friends and missing his former home. He did adjust well with the cultural changes, however, due to the fact that he had always practiced the German, Brazilian, and American cultures in Brazil and continues to do so to this day, although now he had a much larger exposure to American culture than beforehand back in Brazil. Due to his prior experience with American culture he didn’t suffer from any discrimination from natural-born Americans and also didn’t have to learn English as he was already taught it in Brazil.
As a result of his experiences when immigrating, Jan believes that Americans can celebrate any culture they want, as America is just a boiling pot of cultures, and that an immigrant coming into America could keep their native culture and still remain an American. He also has come to believe that the United States government should promote immigration to bring in young people (ages 5-18) to give them a future. Jan highly suggests legal immigration to the United States because of all of the opportunities it would open up.
Jan’s immigration was voluntary, and occurred as a result of several push factors. These factors were all related to the fact that Brazil was and still is far less developed than the United States. Jan’s education and connection to a popular American culture would’ve been severely hurt in a negative way if he had continued to live in Brazil.
His immigration also had pull factors to the United States, consisting of better opportunities, education, infrastructure, a more universal culture, and a better economy. The main catalyst for his immigration was the job opportunity presented to his father which would’ve been an improvement financially for his family and also would’ve ensured a better future for Jan.