That really caused a change in the workshops.: 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 Andrada with her two daughters. Minnesota Historical Society.
    Belen Andrada with her daughers and grandaughter with State Rep Mark Mahon.

    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Problems in America: What could have helped this person’s adjustment in the U.S.?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Prejudices and racism are challenging problems faced by new immigrants as well as members of many other minority groups. Sometimes the prejudice they face may be subtle; others may be judging them using stereotypes or making conclusions based on appearance and not even be aware they are doing it themselves. Schools have sometimes made a point to try to prevent problems and increase the sensitivity of their staff through training, workshops, and staff liaisons who can work out issues between minority students and staffers.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Belen Andrada 8
    2:46 Minutes | 2.67Mb


    Narrator: Belen Andrada (BA)

    Interviewer: Lita Malicsi (LM)

    BA: You know, I am really convinced that education is the big thing. If people know more about us, that makes a difference. Especially, I think, in the schools. That should really be undertaken by the schools. What happened to Tita at the junior high really changed the planning of the workshops for teachers at the beginning of the school year.

    LM: Tell me what happened to Tita in junior high.

    BA: Tita was, well… This janitor, it was one of the janitors, saw her and asked her where she was from. She said, “I’m from Minnesota.” Then, he said, “Well, did you used to live in a nipa hut before you came to Minnesota?” Tita said, “No, I was born in Minnesota and I am a Minnesotan.” She was so upset. Her friends were so upset. She never told me about what happened. It was her friends who told me. One afternoon, when she came home, I knew something was wrong. She would not eat. Then, she said she did not want to get the janitor in trouble. I said, “No, we are not going to get him in trouble. I think he needs to know more about us.” So, fortunately, the vice principal was in my committee. So I asked him if I could - Ben and I, with Tita - could meet with this janitor in a conference, and he should be present there.

    And so, what happened there then is that the district decided that when they do the workshop for teachers, include the bus drivers, the janitors, and whatever extra help there is, because those are the people who get in touch with the kids more often. That really caused a change in the workshops, which I was grateful for.

    Tita is not like Christy. When Christy was called “Blackie,” in the elementary school, she also answered, “Hi, Snow White.”

    LM: She was called a “Blackie?”

    BA: Yes, she was called a “Blackie.” Answeres with, “Hi, Snow White” [chuckles]. I said, “You know, you can get into trouble with that.” She said, “No. I know, I was by the principal’s office, so it’s not going to happen.”

    Related Glossary Terms


    Verb: To take upon oneself; to start, to embark on. (undertakes, undertaking, undertook/undertaken)


    Noun:  A brief intensive course of education for a small group; emphasizes interaction and practical problem solving.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 2145