Marisa, Grade 9
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Marisa, 9th Grade Student
Poly Prep Country Day School
Brooklyn, NY

IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE

From the lesson Immigrant Experience.

As the boat pulled into the harbor of Ellis Island my heart sank like the Titanic. I tried to anticipate what was to come of my life. It was impossible. The boat seemed to drown in the blanket of fog. Suddenly I could see the brick building, only a building to some but to me a passageway to a whole new world. I heard children screaming, babies crying, parents calling for their young. It was like a crowded waiting room at the doctor's office.

Finally the moment arrived when people started filing off the boat. I remember the mass of people rushing through the door like the fierce wind of a hurricane. Once inside, the raging storm of people seemed to calm down. Now the real torture began, the physical examination. The people in charge were harsh and rude, they spoke to and treated me as if I were an infant.

After what seemed like endless searching and walking the streets of this unknown city called New York I came to an old, rundown tenement. I walked inside wearily, wondering what I would have to face around the next corner. Once it was settled that I would have the smallest apartment on the third floor I put down the few belongings I still had left. Then I just stood there lifeless, soaking up the smells and sounds of my new home. I almost feel like I'm back there right now.

I hear the deafening sounds of cars whizzing by on the hard streets of New York.

I feel the water hitting me when the kids, on their way home from school on a rainy day, splash in the puddles. I can almost feel the dampness of my sticky apartment on a humid summer day.

I can smell the sweet, tender hot roast cooking in the oven while the kids bring the dishes to the table.

I can see the dirty, old, peeling wallpaper. Each layer holding such memories of people who had once, in some other lifetime, inhabited the dingy place.

The wallpaper peeling like a potato, the kids outside, the puddles, the cars, all symbols of a life I once knew. A life so difficult and complicated it will not soon be forgotten.