It was a very hard year.: Becoming Minnesotan

Dr. Maryam Beltran Shapland, Emergency Physician at Woodwinds Hospital, Woodbury
  • Name - Maryam Beltran Shapland
  • Age at interview - 34
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 01.25.2011
  • Maryam Beltran and her sister visiting New York City when they lived in Canada.

    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

    Immigrating to a new place is scary - especially when you don’t know the local language or customs. Many immigrants come to the U.S. willing to take on the challenges of a new culture in order to have better educational or job opportunities.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryam Shapland 5
    3:31 Minutes | 3.39Mb


    Narrator: Maryam Shapland (MS)

    Interviewer: Lita Malicsi (LM)

    LM: I’d like you to talk about your first year in school in Minnesota. How were you accepted? Was school a happy place for you and your sister?

    MS: You know, it was a very hard year. It was a hard year in terms of the culture shock, and it was a hard year because she started middle school and I started high school. So in a lot of ways, we came here at the absolute wrong time in a child’s life, because we were starting to become adolescents and starting to change in terms of our bodies and our thinking, and then to throw us into a very different environment in those years was very difficult for both of us.

    LM: But did you have any language problems, any language barriers at all?

    MS: Fortunately, having that year in Canada was a big help; we never really had to struggle... I remember walking in high school the very first day and just experiencing this shock that everywhere I looked was a Caucasian face. I still remember that very vividly just looking around the hall and thinking where are all the Filipinos? [Chuckles] Because I wasn’t used to it. The language, fortunately, came pretty smoothly to me. I've been fortunate enough to pick up languages pretty easily, so it wasn’t that hard of a transition. It was mostly the shock of being in such a different place than I was used to.

    LM: Was this something - the unhappy social experiences that happened in school – was this something that you discussed with mom and dad?

    MS: I think we talked about it. I don’t remember feeling like they could relate, though. I didn’t feel like they really could understand. And I don’t know if they really could have, because they were going through a different experience, their own immigrant experience and trying to get an apartment, and buy a car, and all these things. So I think that that was a different experience for them. So I don’t know really if they could really get what was happening.

    LM: So how long did you go through this kind of experience and when did it finally end and go away? And did it?

    MS: As I said, I’m a pretty social person, so I eventually started making friends. I would say maybe by my second year, I’ve already created my American self for the world, for my world. [Chuckles] And I’ve already made some friends and joined extracurricular activities and started really enjoying high school at the time; I joined student council and all these things.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Adjective:  Of European descent, white.


    Noun:  The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.


    Noun:  1. Participation in events, leading to knowledge, opinons, or skills.  2. The knowledge thus gathered.


    Adjective: Outside of the normal curriculum of an educational establishment.


    Adjective: Lucky, favored by fortune.


    Noun:  A person who comes to a country to permanently settle from another country.


    Noun:  A process of change from one form to another.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 2146