The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


Assimilation into American Society: An Interview

Andres Huenneke

Staff Writer

Assimilation into the culture of the United States is a concept that many immigrants have  to face. One of these immigrants is Paola*, a woman from Guatemala who migrated to the United States in 2011. She works for a local cleaners here in Alexandria. According to Paola, life in the United States has been much better than life in Guatemala. In Guatemala, due to her lack of education, she was not able to maintain a job.

“Even with [an] education, finding jobs over there [Guatemala] is incredibly difficult,” Paola said. The value of the currency used in Guatemala is the key reason why there is so much unemployment there. The currency in Guatemala is called the quetzal. 1.0 U.S. Dollar is equal to 7.80 quetzales, which contributes to the lack of job opportunities because of the lack of value in the quetzal.

Paola, who speaks English but doesn’t consider herself fluent, was able to get by in the United States because of help she received from a non-profit organization in the Arlandria section of the city called Casa Chirilagua. The group’s main form of aid is providing residents with food through food drives. Also, if a person has children, Casa Chirilagua welcomes the children into an after-school program that teaches them manners, helps develop their social skills and teaches them how to read. 

“I am excited for my future here in the United States, and I am grateful for the help Casa Chirilagua has given me,” Paola said. 

*Real name withheld due to privacy concerns


A: My first question is what country are you from?

P: I am from Guatemala

A: When did you arrive to the United States

P: I have been here since 2011

A: How would you describe the time you have spent here in the United States?

P: Well for me it has been a lot better than my previous country(Guatemala) because here I have been able to find really good opportunities that I would never have found in my previous country so I feel here a lot more safe and better than over there.

A: Was your life in Guatemala hard?

P: Yes

A: How has your experience in this country been in terms of finding a job?

P: The first days were hard because I did not speak English, even though my English now isn’t the best. I was able to find a rhythm with speaking and through that I found work

A: Where do you work now?

P: I work as a house cleaner

A: How have the people of Casa Chirilagua helped you with your life?

P: This has been a great program for me and my son because they have helped him a lot, especially with the pandemic they were with us every step of the way.

A: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

P: Well first of all, I hope God can continue to help guide me and that my life can get better than how it is right now. Here in the US there are a lot of opportunities. It is just taking advantage of them.

A: How was life for you in Guatemala?

P: Well for me it was really hard because I did not have enough education to hold a job however even with enough education finding jobs over there is incredibly hard. The difference between Guatemala and the US is quite a big one. In Guatemala the currency is called the quetzal and here in the US the currency is the dollar. The dollar is worth a lot more than the quetzal to begin with which is the main difference.

A: Did you have a job in Guatemala?

P: No, I did not 

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Assimilation into American Society: An Interview