Scene 4: The Things They Carried

Facing Immigration from Illinois College, Immigration


AKUA: What did I bring with me to the United States? I brought my passport. Yes. I think that I left everything.

JEFFREY: I brought my family: my wife, my two children, and a new baby on its way. I brought just what is necessary. I pretty much left everything. I brought my diploma. I was a lawyer.

SUBOMI: I just bring my, my suitcase with just some . . . some clothes. That’s it. And the rest of the things, I buy them here. You have just the time to take the things that you really need. And the rest you just leave for your relatives or friends. Yeah. Just with some money, you can start your life here.

(Lights shift to CEPHAS and SIERRA.)

CEPHAS: The time when I came because I went back to Africa, I brought some sh and, uh, monkey.

SIERRA: Why did you bring a monkey to the US?

CEPHAS: I eat monkey. (Seeing surprised look) Not fresh, dead.

SIERRA: Oh, ok. You were bringing food.

CEPHAS: Exactly.

SIERRA: I thought you brought one on a leash. I couldn’t imagine how you got through customs.

CEPHAS: Yeah, I don’t think they would let me in.

SIERRA: I don’t like fish personally, but I know you said you like fish. So how do you like your she cooked?

CEPHAS: My fish? Well, Americans cut the head off, and I don’t want to lose the fish head.

SIERRA: You don’t? You leave the head? You eat the eyes and everything?

CEPHAS: Everything.

SIERRA: What is that like—to eat an eye of a fish?

CEPHAS: I have an American friend. The first day he saw me cooking fish, he said, “You eat that?” I said, “Yeah. Just try it. Try.” And when he tried, he loved it.

SIERRA: You cook me a fish, I’ll try to eat it.

CEPHAS: Really? You will eat everything? The lips and the eyes?

SIERRA: I’ll try it. I’ll try whatever. I’m open to new things.

CEPHAS: Okay, we will see.

This scene originally appeared in Congolese Immigrant Stories, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois.

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Scene 5: Cultural Differences