Immigrant Interview Write-up Assignment

Based on your interviews with immigrants, write a narrative about the person you talked with. Two page minimum. Below are several ways to complete this assignment. Choose the one that seems to make the most sense to you — or feel free to come up with a different model. (But check with me first.) All the options below will require some imagination and re-creation.

  •  Personal narrative:  In this option, you write from the point of view of the person you interviewed, but cut out your questions. Compose the story out of the person’s responses to your questions.

    Example: My mother came into the United States illegally. She walked across the desert with a group of other Mexicans. They’d hired a coyote. I don’t know how much she paid, but they had to walk a long way. They almost got caught when they were at a gas station in San Ysidro, California. As soon as the Mexican coyote saw la migra, he ran away and left my mother alone.
  • Story: In this option, you take one part of the interview and fictionalize it. For example, maybe the person you interviewed told you about his first day in school in the United States. So instead of just telling about this day in an interview format, you write about it in story form.

    Example: José looked in the mirror. He thought to himself, “What will the American kids think when they look at me? Will they make fun of me? How would I even know; I speak about ten words of English.” José remembered his village in Michuacan. “Why do I have to be here in this huge city? I want to go home.”

    His mother’s voice interrupted his thoughts: “José, mi hijo, it’s time to go to school…..
  • Profile: You might decide that you’d rather profile the individual you interviewed and write your piece as a character sketch of this person. This would allow you to quote from your interview, but it might give you more opportunity to put in your own observations.

    Example: Melissa has long brown hair and sparkling eyes. We’re in the same U.S. history class. She sits across the room from me. Some people stereotype immigrants from Mexico as shy and withdrawn. Not Melissa. She is outgoing, funny, gregarious. In the part of town where I live, people don’t have much contact with Mexicans. For them, Taco Bell is about as Mexican as it gets. When I asked Melissa if Taco Bell was real Mexican food, she laughed and said, “Are you crazy? If you want real Mexican food, you should come to my house and taste my mother’s cooking. Taco Bell is fake Mexican.” …..

In your piece, you can focus on whatever aspects of the interview seemed most interesting or important. If possible, I’d like you to somehow deal with something they told you about the border — about crossing over, about “La Migra” (Border Patrol or U.S. Immigration), their attitude toward the border, etc.

Winter 2001/2002 — Last Updated Summer 2004