My family the refugees

Zainab Safvi

Push and pull factors – the story of my family the refugees

Push and pull factors play huge roles in the motivation to migrate. Push factors are negative reasons for migrating from the homeland, and pull factors are positive influences in the new location that appeal to immigrants. These push and pull factors vary from political, environmental, and economical reasons (Rubenstein, 92).

Political push factors vary from slavery, to religious persecution. In the case of environmental factors, the geography of a location can be a push factor for one individual and a pull for another. Finally, the most common, economical factors persuade migrants to move to different locations. Many over-seas immigrants find themselves pulled into developed countries like the United States and Canada, hoping for better economic conditions (Rubenstein, 92-94).

Being of Pakistani, Chinese, and Vietnamese descent, I come from immigrants. My mother’s side of the family immigrated to the United States from Vietnam 35 years ago. Being the third generation, my grandmother loves to reminisce with me about the crazy journey immigrating to the U.S.

My grandmother left Vietnam because of communist oppression, terrible economic conditions, and hope for the American Dream. Being a woman, my grandmother was only allowed to attend school until the age of 12. She walked three miles through undeveloped terrain every day to get to school, drank river water and ate meager amounts of rice for lunch, and then trekked back through the Vietnamese jungles to come home to chores. In Vietnam my grandmother was considered somewhat wealthy, but by American standards she faced extreme poverty. On her birthday she received one egg as a present. My mother similarly dealt with the same economic circumstances, injustice of education, and third-world conditions of Vietnam. As a child, my mother was subjected to chores in a local marketplace to support my family. As a result, she was attacked by a wild turkey who pushed a vat of boiling water onto her legs, leaving her with third degree burns at the age of eight. When going to school my mother had to cross a dangerous river. Due to the unstable nature of her makeshift canoe, she fell in and almost drowned. Luckily, she caught onto a rock. Along with these push factors, the communist government in Vietnam was also a huge reason for my family’s immigration to America. My grandfather had fought alongside Americans in the Vietnam War. He found himself envying the freedom Americans had, the opportunities they spoke of, and soon my grandfather made it a goal of his to leave the country. My family as a whole realized that Vietnam was no longer a safe place and looked for a way to escape the communist country.

To make things short, after Americans gave up their occupation of Vietnam my family began to save gold in the walls of their house. They used the gold to build a boat. However, the boat could only be worked on at night due to fear of communist rule. Within a few months, goodbyes were said and 30 of my family members set sail with only moonlight to guide them. Once they had reached the middle of the ocean and were comfortably on their way to Freedom Land, the boat broke down due to a hole. Before the boat completely sank a Japanese oil tanker came to their rescue and picked them up. The Japanese brought my family to the nearest refugee camp in Indonesia. The Red Cross refugee camp hosted my family for two years until they were sponsored over by a small church in Chicago.

Works Cited

Rubenstein, James M. “Folk and Popular Culture.” The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2014. Print.


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