How’d You Get Here?

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Essay

Anthony Arcaro
How’d You Get Here?
September 8, 2010

In America, we all came from somewhere outside of the USA, unless you have Native American roots. Each person’s heritage is different in some aspect, which enables us to tell a personal story. Our heritage directly affects our traditions and celebrations, in addition to how we live our everyday life with the culture that is passed down with and through us. Being able to carry on our traditions and culture gives us a chance to live our life as our ancestors lived and remember our families’ past. People want to recognize where they are from in order to show respect towards their ancestors. Our families’ past choices make each and everyone of us unique, and influences our personal identity.

In August of 1941, my grandfather, Carmine Arcaro was born in Isernia, Italy. During WWII, my grandfather and his family, were kicked out of their house by German soldiers and lived up in the hills above their town as the war continued on. Italy was torn apart and many buildings were in pieces. After it finally ended, my grandfather’s dad, Antonio Arcaro left Italy and sailed to Argentina in search of work and a better life for his family. Once he was established, he sent back money to his wife, Carmela, who had stayed behind with the kids. In 1954, my grandfather and his family emigrated from Isernia, Italy, with the money they had saved up, in order to find and live a better life. They sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on the Andrea C and after 24 days, they finally reached Buenos Aires, Argentina and reunited with Antonio. They left the country that they had been born and raised in, in order to find a better place to live with an ever-growing family. A person’s, or group of people’s, pursuit of happiness can cause them to leave everything that is close and familiar to them so that they can seek out a place to start over. Eventually, Argentina started to fall apart along with its government, causing my grandfather and his family to emigrate from Argentina in 1963. They flew from Argentina, to JFK Airport in New Jersey and became citizens of the United States of America. My grandfather flew back to Argentina in 1964 where he married my grandmother, Luisa Zamboni, and they then flew back to the USA. My grandfather’s brother Michael soon moved to Palm Springs, California, and after having my Aunt Claudia, my dad Ricardo, and his brother Anthony, my grandfather and his family followed his brother to Palm Springs. My dad soon attended college in Irvine where he met my mother Janice Munroe, they married and moved to San Diego, and eventually, I was born. My race is Caucasian, or white, my nationality is American, and my ethnicity is Italian, English, and Scottish. My ethnicity plays a very direct role in how I live my life.
Everybody communicates with one another in the form of a language, whether it is sign language, English, Spanish, German, or charades, depends on you, your family, and your heritage. Language can play a very important role, or a very small role, in a family. My grandfather, and everyone who came over from Italy in my family, speaks fluent Italian. My dad speaks a little bit of Italian, however, I cannot speak any Italian. In my family, my grandpa sometimes uses Italian words that I somewhat understand, however nobody really speaks to each other in Italian, because we live in the USA where English is primarily spoken. If I was born in Italy, I would most likely be able to speak Italian, because it is the predominate language. Language can disappear over a few generations, however it can also be carried on in remembrance of ancestors who spoke it.

Food also plays a role in who I am and how my family lives our lives. We regularly eat foods of Italian or European origin, such as Nutella chocolate spread, and our traditions at Christmastime always include Panettone Italian bread. Our family who remains in Italy owns a large bakery. My mother makes pasta sauce with a recipe my great-grandmother used, and I know how to make homemade pasta. These things might not be a part of my present country, but I cannot imagine life without them.

The traditions that I have now, I will pass on, however I am always building on top of them. As I travel to new places, or learn more about my whole family’s history, culture, and ethnicity, I will always be adding new things, whether it is a new food, religious ceremony, or traditional form of doing something, such as art. These things make up whom we are, and people have an inherent desire to learn about their origins and develop new traditions to keep their heritage alive.

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