Matan & Carlos

  • Matan & Carlos, Lincoln, NE

“Even though it is a little cliché, the food [that] we eat, our customs and the holidays we celebrate are important. My dad grew up in Jerusalem, so you can’t really replicate a Jerusalem here in Lincoln, but we try to find anyone who shares our background to keep in touch with and celebrate with when we can.”

Carlos’s Story
I am from Mexico. My whole family still lives there, other than my parents and me. I came [to the United States] when I was four years old, but it wasn’t until I was in sixth grade that we got all of our paperwork taken care of. My dad left his high school a week before he was going to graduate because he heard that there was a good turkey industry with good opportunities. So he went to Los Angeles. He and my mom lived there together, but then went back to Mexico where they had me. At that point he continued working in the trucking industry, particularly in Shelby, Nebraska. He was living in the U.S., and we were back in Mexico. That isn’t really a good or beneficial way to live for anybody. So we decided to move with him first to California, and then to Shelby, Nebraska. Throughout my childhood I lived in a small towns, and we always moved places without knowing anybody. People weren’t very friendly because I was an outsider. At least, that was how I felt at the time.

My family passed down a lot of culture and heritage to me. Family is super important to us, and I was taught to be proud of where I came from and to work hard to achieve goals. We always remember where we come from and take traditions very seriously. Being a graphic designer, I get so much of my inspiration from the art and culture of Mexico. My parents worked hard their entire lives to get me to college and I am forever grateful. That is a value that I will pass down to my children.

Matan’s Story
I grew up in Israel. I moved here in 2004 when I was 13. My family used to work in the tourismindustry; that was our entire economy. In 2000, there was a lot of turmoil in the region, it really hurt the economy because foreigners were afraid to visit. We tried to stick it out for a few years but it still hasn’t come back even today. We left and came here to Lincoln. When I got here I thought the lakes would be closer, so I was a little disappointed, but the community embraced us. I jumped into football and just got acclimated as fast as I could.I started working on environmental efforts on campus, and Carlos was a freshman while I was a senior. Now, we work even closer together, he does our graphic design work as a freelancer for my consultancy. He did our entire branding!

I think my experience has been different from Carlos in regards to keeping our cultural traditions alive in America. We had to abandon a lot of cultural traditions in order to get acclimated to American culture quickly. Here in Lincoln, there are not a whole lot of Israelis, so you can quickly lose the language. That is why I try to read a lot in Hebrew. Even though it is a little cliché, the food we eat, our customs and the holidays we celebrate are important. My dad grew up in Jerusalem, so you can’t really replicate a Jerusalem here in Lincoln, but we try to find anyone who shares our background to keep in touch with and celebrate with when we can. It just does not have that same atmosphere when you go into the synagogue. It is so different that it gives you a strong homesickness! We even avoid synagogues here because of some of our memories that we wish were still a part of our lives.

All of our stories are a part of the American Story. What's Yours?

#IHM2016 #ImmigrantHeritageMonth