The new normal was cold and quiet.: 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 as a toddler in the Philippines. Minnesota Historical Society.


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    Essential Question

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

    Assimilation: Does a person have to give up part of his/her culture to become more American?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    The Philippines is an archipelago nation composed of 7,107 islands, between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. Many of the islands are extremely small, and only about 1,000 are populated. The islands of the Philippines are volcanic in origin; most are mountainous with narrow coastal plains, and most Filipinos live on the coasts. The climate of the country is wet and tropical, with a monsoon season in the winter. The islands used to be covered with tropical rainforest, but there has been extensive deforestation due to logging. Its climate is certainly different from that of most of the United States, and any new immigrant is sure to have a period of adjustment!

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryam Shapland 2
    2:26 Minutes | 2.34Mb


    Narrator: Maryam Shapland (MS)

    Interviewer: Lita Malicsi (LM)

    LM: When you left for the United States, you knew you were going to stay permanently in the new country. Tell me how you felt.

    MS: I think it was a very hard situation, because we already kind of knew what it was like to move to another country. We lived in Canada for a year when my dad pursued a master’s degree in Hamilton, Ontario. So we knew what to expect in terms of the cold, and the isolation, and being far away, being far away from everything that we knew, and the loneliness. So I think knowing what was about to come was a lot harder than if we had no clue what it was going to be like.

    LM: And what was your view about America when you were a young girl growing up in the Philippines?

    MS: Again, I think I thought of Canada, I thought that — this was after we came home from Canada — you know, the cold and being far away, and the isolation from everybody and everything that was dear and familiar to all of us. But when I was growing up, I just remember watching Sesame Street and watching TV, and that’s what I knew of America. I thought that whatever the movies and the TV portrayed as America was what it looked like.

    LM: And did this view change when you came here and started living here in the United States?

    MS: I think so. I think that when something becomes familiar to you, it becomes a more natural way to live, I guess, is the way to put it. What was familiar to us in the Philippines was the heat and the tropics and the millions of people around and the loud noises. And when we came here, I think that that was what was normal to me, and then when I got here, the new normal was cold, and quiet, and clean streets [chuckles]. So, I think that that became the new norm for us.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  A state of being separated from the larger group.


    Verb:  To aim for or go after; to particpate in.  (pursues, pursuing, pursued)


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 2136