Sociology West Indians in America - Interview of Haitian Immigrant

Michael Dawkins
West Indians in America
Short paper #3

                        After a long day of school and work, I slowly walked down the narrow one way street from my car which led to the apartment where I live. I entered the house and walked upstairs to the apartment on the second floor. I opened the door and got settled in. I went in my sister’s room to use her computer. While I was showing my mother how to do certain functions in Microsoft Excel, I received a call from Nathalie. I had asked Nathalie if I can interview her for this paper and she agreed. I remembered that Nathalie mentioned that she was from Haiti, so I thought she would be an excellent person for this interview.
                        I asked Nathalie about her the Haitians customs and traditions that her family engages at home. Nathalie informed me that Haitian music is played during cooking and “…on Saturday mornings, when there is nothing to do …”. She said that Creole is the spoken language in her home; she also added that “…Creole is the language of the country.”. A popular Haitian delicacy that is served in her home is named Conch           (Lambi in Creole) which consist of a “huge” snail (from the sea) that is served alongside fried plantain, roasted pork and cabbage. She said Conch is similar to Escargot, which is a French dish.
I researched Escargot and Conch on and and I saw the actual dish and snail, I also read that Conch is a very popular dish in the Caribbean and in Florida however the price of Conch has tripled to $11 per pound according to which makes it an expensive delicacy.
                        Nathalie explained that there were no particular Haitian garments, she said “…growing up, my sister wore African head wraps and my brother wore Le Tigre…” which meant that the Haitian clothing was African and French influenced. Nathalie stated that religion in Haiti is mostly Catholic however there are many cultural, African religions such as Voodon. She also discussed her migration to the United States; she said that it was difficult to learn the language when she came to the U.S. . Since she was young when she arrived in the U.S., she did not have a Haitian accent.
The reason why I asked Nathalie if she had an accent is because I recall my mother’s recollection of her difficulties in school because people made fun of her because she had a Jamaican accent. I could infer that several West Indian migrants experienced some form of ridicule because of their language or the way that they talked.

                        Interviewing Nathalie was interesting because I received a more in depth view of Haitian culture and it made me aware of several similarities and differences between West Indian groups. For instance, I noticed that her family plays Haitian music during leisure time which I could equate to my Guyanese friends’ family who also listen to their culture music during cooking and leisure. One of the differences would be that her family speaks Creole, language and dialect varies from country to country depending on who the colonizer was. Nathalie was very informative; she gave descriptive replies to all the questions I asked. I was taking a little bit too long when I was thinking of the questions to ask Nathalie (while I was speaking to her) and I could sense she was anxious because she had to do her own interview. I thanked her allowing me the time  to interview her.

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