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Oral History Interview with Mary T. Mathew, April 25, 1999. Interview K-0815. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Mary T. Mathew left her home near Kerala, India, for North Carolina in 1970, remembering that "the second I disembarked in New York, I felt I had come home." After a period of adjustment, worrying about visas and financial stability, Mathew experienced four turning points that would define her life in the United States: she got her visa, began working, stopped wearing her traditional sari, and started to drive. Mathew and her husband embraced American culture, speaking English in the home and finding a place in a Christian community. As they formed new bonds, the ties with the fellow immigrants that had been so strong in their early days in America started to dissolve. In this interview, Mathew describes this transition and her forward-looking immigrant experience, one relatively unaffected by the pull of her homeland and marked by the release from the cultural norms and traditions of India. The most significant markers of this approach might be Mathew's children, whose desire to fit in with their American peers nudged Mathew and her husband toward reconsideration of the "pre-established cultural-behavioral expectations" they learned as Indians. The result, though it did not come without some anxiety, is a thriving family and a successful career. This interview will interest researchers concerned with immigration and assimilation.
    Excerpts
  • Christianity eases an immigrant's transition
  • Adopting an American identity
  • Immigrant parents do not force their culture on their American children
  • Daughters of an immigrant build lives and careers as Americans
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  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.