I went to the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.: Becoming Minnesotan

Belen Andrada receiving an award from the FMA seniors.
  • Name - Belen Andrada
  • Age at interview - 84
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 12.01.2010
  • Belen Santos's and Ben Andrada's wedding Day, June 15, 1957.

    The Journey

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    Essential Question

    Coming to America: What did coming to America symbolize for this person?

    The Journey: How did this person get to the U.S.?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    The Philippines were colonized by Spain in the 1500s and taken over by the U.S. after the Spanish-American War in 1898. The Americans started free, public American-style education in the Philippines, which became one of the most educated nations in Asia. The United States also began a program to send Filipino students to the U.S. to continue their educations, and bring their new skills and knowledge back with them to the Philippines. Many Filipino students have come to the U.S. for education over the past century.

    To learn more about Filipino history and culture, visit our Filipino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Belen Andrada 6
    2:56 Minutes | 2.83Mb


    Narrator: Belen Andrada (BA)

    Interviewer: Lita Malicsi (LM)

    LM: From the Philippines, you went to the United States. Where in the United States?

    BA: Yeah, I went to the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, southern Chicago.

    As a matter of fact, I think I forgot to tell you that when I got accepted, I was even in Manila. I did not really expect, and my father called me. He was more excited than I was. And he said, “Go ahead and start your papers. They’re here. It says the classes will start in September,” and it was July! So rush, rush, rush, rush. That is why before I realized it, I was on my way to the United States. My only advice from my aunt was, “When you get to O’Hare Airport, do not take a taxi. Wait for the car that will bring several people to their destination.”

    What I did, after I heard from my father, is I researched the University of Chicago and found out that they had also an International House. So I applied to International House for board and lodging, but before I could hear from them, I was already in Chicago [chuckles]. Like I said, I was rushing to get in time for the September classes. I walked in the door, got to the reception desk, and I said, “I don’t know if I have a room.” But they said, “Oh, yes, you do, 416.” Thats right; I’ll never forget that. So I went to 416. I had a roommate, but she wasn’t there. And all of a sudden, the reality of being alone hit me. I cried and I cried.

    I heard somebody in the hallway saying, “Menching, Menching.” And I thought, God, she sounded Filipino. So I went out, and I saw her, and I knew right away she was Filipino. And she looked at me and she said, “Did you just arrive?” There must have been really something in my face that she just asked me, “Have you just arrived?” And I said, “Yes, and where do we eat?” And she said, “No, don’t go downstairs. That’s where the cafeteria is. You can come to my room.” She took me upstairs, and I found out that she was the sister of the congresswoman in Bataan, Nellie de Leon. And Menching, who she was looking for, was a professor of biology at the University of Santo Tomas. We really became close friends after that. She helped me with my shopping and so forth and so on. What a nightmare. I didn’t know anybody. When I replay that back, I say, “I don’t even know how I did it.”

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun: 1. A committee that manages the business of an organization. 2. Regular meals or the amount paid for them in a place of lodging.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 2133