Shells from Bitaog Beach

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Sand and shells from the Philippines
Sand and shells from the Philippines

 When I was eight, we visited the Philippines as a family. After a decade since her immigration, my mother returned home. I was too young to appreciate it, but it felt like I finally connected the ends of my mother’s journey. Before leaving, we scooped up a bottle of sand from Bitaog Beach and a collection of shells. Years later, I would dig my hands into the sand and feel the Philippines. In November 1992, my mother arrived in the United States.  She was recruited by a US consulting company as an IT professional. My mother was not impressed by New York winter. She thought to herself, “This is America? Why, all their trees are dead!” During the months she learned to drive, there were seventeen snowstorms. Seventeen snowstorms and she drove over ice and grit in New Jersey traffic. My mother used to tell me how at first she didn’t know which coins to use. She flipped them over carefully, checking each coin as she searched for whatever a “nickel” was supposed to be. I used to laugh at this story, but now it means much more to me. I’m studying abroad in Denmark and every time I try to buy a snack or a bus ticket, I find myself in mother’s shoes. Every day, I hold up the line to check each coin one by one. I know that I’m in incredibly different circumstances, but in a small way, through Kroners and nickels, I’m relearning my mother’s journey of immigration.  My mother is fearless and fiercely independent. I will carry my mother's courage and determination everywhere I go. 

Place(s): Philippines,New Jersey
Year: 1992

– Isabella Nugent

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant