Education has to be a top priority.: Becoming Minnesotan

Emiliano Chagil. Minnesota Historical Society, Oral History Office files.
  • Name - Emiliano Chagil
  • Age at interview - 57
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 04.07.2010
  • Emiliano Chagil with his wife and children, 2009. Minnesota Historical Society.

    Economics, Education, Latino

    Essential Question

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

    Opportunities in America: What kind of opportunities does this person see in America that he/she did not have in the homeland?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Many new immigrants view the United States as a land of opportunity, where they can accomplish dreams like getting an education or earning a living for their family. While they certainly face many obstacles, community support can help them achieve their goals.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Emiliano Chagil 6
    2:44 Minutes | 2.62Mb


    Narrator: Emiliano Chagil (EC)

    EC: There are so many challenges. I mentioned before the opportunities that this state, this country has for us. But the challenge is still education, the biggest. That’s a well-documented case. Latinos or minorities, in general, in this country don’t accomplish, they don’t complete their degrees for many reasons, and money is one of the many. So education has to be a top priority for many, many kids, many Latinos to overcome in this country. That’s a big challenge. And not because they’re not smart, which I remind these kids.

    Unconsciously, we put down ourselves, and we have to overcome that. That we are just as smart as anyone. We’re just as intelligent as anyone. We could become, now as today we see, in the history of this country, we see Latinos being astronauts. We see Latinos being, Sonia Sotomayor for instance, in the Supreme Court.

    It’s hard to succeed, but it’s possible. It’s possible. We see more and more Latinos now being professors, being doctors, being lawyers.

    I just saw the headline of the Tribune today. It says that the law school at St. Thomas or Hamline, most of these people that become lawyers are white people. So St. Thomas is becoming more aware and begins to approach that differently, so to incorporate more and more people of color, including us Latinos.

    So I think we Latinos have to overcome that kind of, “Oh, I cannot do it because I’m a Latino.” “Oh, I cannot do it because I’m poor.” “Oh, I cannot do it because of this.” We have to really say, “Let’s give it a try.” “Let’s do this.” And, “Let’s try this.” And we have to be more aggressive or more assertive, perhaps, with our dreams in this country. Because, again, this country is of dreams, as funny as it may sound. I told a mom the other day who called me from a school, and I said, “We need to expose kids to their culture because this country of dreams.” I reminded the lady - she was a Caucasian - I said, “We Latinos still see this country as the land of dreams. We can make things happen.” We can make things happen, but we have to overcome our own kind of inferiority complex or whatever, or our mental approach to things.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Adjective:  Of European descent, white.


    Noun:  An official paper that provides proof of something, like birth or citizenship.

    Verb: To record. (documents, documenting, documented)

    inferiority complex

    Noun: A sense that one is of lower rank or quality than others.


    Noun: A member of a subgroup in society, that differs from other groups.


    Noun:  A chance for advancement, progress, or profit.


    Noun:  First concern.


    Adverb: Done without awareness.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 2184