Fabricando recuerdos/making memories
Toledo, Carlos Alberto
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The purpose of this study was to use qualitative methodology in order to describe and understand firstgeneration Cuban women immigrants’ perceptions of their experiences in the United States. Furthermore, the role of settlement location, how they transmit their culture to subsequent generations, and the role of gender in Cuban women’s interpretations of their experiences were also explored. Since so little research exists that examines these issues, a qualitative paradigm seemed best fit to explore the phenomenon. Nine women were interviewed for this study. Five of the women were interviewed in Miami, Florida, while the other four lived in Atlanta, Georgia. All the participants in this study were part of the mass migration of Cubans to the United States following the 1959 Revolution in Cuba. Several themes emerged from the data. These themes were related to issues of: emotional and intellectual interpretations of life experiences; significance of timing of life events; socio-historical contexts of migration; settlement location; circumstantial, cultural and social barriers; formal and informal resources; meaning of work; ethnicity; the role of family; gendered experiences; and exile identity. Overall, the findings of this study indicated that despite 40 years since migration, Cuban women’s perceptions of their experiences have been primarily shaped by their emotional adaptation. From these women’s perspective, adaptation and acculturation are not solely about the ability to learn the language, find employment, or even monetary success, but also about the scars and the losses, which despite individual and/or family gains, are still felt forty years after migration.