It’s hard for them to understand the hardships, the poverty.: 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 and his sons hiking in Guatemala, 2009.

    We Are Here

    Javascript is required to view this map.

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for

    Background Information

    Many Latino immigrants struggle with their “dual identity” - especially young people growing up in a different place than their parents did. Older immigrants often try hard to maintain their Latino culture, religious traditions, and values. Parents face the tough challenge of finding balance between helping their children learn about their traditional Latino cultures and also encouraging their children to become comfortable and successful in American society.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Emiliano Chagil 8
    1:28 Minutes | 1.42Mb


    Narrator: Emiliano Chagil (EC)

    Interviewer: Lorena Duarte (LD)

    EC: We take this one-every-year trip to Guatemala. Of course, with children, the way we live in this state, it’s hard for them to understand the hardship, the poverty.

    LD: Sure.

    EC: When you tell them there are some families in my hometown that don’t have toys, they don’t believe that. That there are families in my hometown that maybe don’t have enough food for tomorrow; it’s hard for them to understand and to believe that.

    LD: Yes.

    EC: So, nonetheless, I try to expose them as much and try to make them understand as much. But also, going back to your question before, how much the Latino culture has changed Minnesota. I think these kids, the older kid, for instance, when I asked him, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” One thing he likes to say is that, “I want to speak Spanish. I want to be a doctor and go and help people in Guatemala.”

    LD: Oh, wow.

    EC: I think that’s a beautiful thing. I don’t think this kid would have said that if he was not exposed to the Latin culture or to Guatemalan culture. And I assume that’s, also, the case of many, many kids. So I think our culture has also interjected this curiosity of many other younger people to think that I’m not just going to have a profession and be rich and wealthy in this country, but also think about beyond the borders of this country. So, in many ways, it’s a great story.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun: The state or quality of being poor or in need.


    Noun: Occupation or job.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 2193