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Dedicated to my friends.

On a dirt hill in front of a vast rice field, is the house where I grew up. My house had a clay tile roof and stained glass windows on the door. Beside the windows there was a small garden with potted plants and trees. My name is Atsuko Nei. I have three brothers, Kenji, Sumio, and Heroshi. We lived in Miyazaki, Japan. Everyday, I walked 45 minutes to school with my brothers. I lived in a farming town where everyone knew everyone.

When I was twenty, I got married to an American soldier named Robert Lewis. We had a small wedding in Japan. Only my brothers, parents and cousins came. I changed my last name to Lewis. We lived on the American base in Japan. Soon after, I had a baby at the American base hospital. We named her Jennifer Rei Lewis. When my husband’s time in the military was over, we wanted to move to America, because I married an American and because I wanted a different life.

I packed my clothes, books, and special photo album of the life I left behind. I said goodbye to all of my family and friends, except for my youngest brother, Heroshi, who traveled with us. I was excited to go to Boston, but also sad to leave Miyazaki. It was about noon when we boarded the plane. I remember flying over Miyazaki, seeing it get smaller and smaller. Soon I saw puffy white clouds through my window.The plane was crowded and hot, not a seat was empty. We were in the way back where there wasn’t much leg room. The food on the plane didn’t taste good. It was mushy, slimy chicken with dry rice on the side. I didn’t eat much of it. I slept half the time, and spent the other half chatting with Robert about what Boston would be like.

Hours later, the plane captain said something I didn’t understand and the plane started to drop. My heart was beating like a drum, as Robert clasped my hand. We had a bumpy landing. I let go as we came to a stop. A flight attendant opened the door of the plane and a fresh breeze brushed across my face. I was happy to finally be on land and anxious to see America. I picked my daughter up and held her while Robert and Heroshi grabbed our suitcases. We stepped off the plane and into the airport, and walked outside to flag a cab. As soon as one pulled up, we got in. The cab drove us all through Boston. It looked so big and bright. There were hotels, restaurants and office buildings at every corner. Robert had told me so much about Boston, but it was even more beautiful than his words.

We stayed in a few temporary places until we all found jobs. Heroshi and I had to take a test to be able to live here. But Jennifer did not. Since she was born on American soil she was considered an American citizen. Heroshi went out on his own, and Robert, Jennifer, and I lived in an apartment building called Huron Towers. It was difficult speaking English, learning American customs, making new friends and meeting Robert’s side of the family. Although I loved living in America, I did miss Japanese food, my family and friends, and my first language. We lived in Huron Towers for many years until we bought a house in Waltham. I became good friends with my neighbor and we opened a travel agency with a couple other women. Robert worked in a hospital as the director of telecommunications. Heroshi got married and became a Japanese steak chef. They all lived happily in America and visited Japan often.

About the Author

Chloe Fandetti is ten years old. She lives with her mom, dad, brother, and sister. She has a dog named Hana. Her favorite food is pizza. She likes softball and swimming. She also enjoys hula hooping. Chloe lives in Watertown M.A. and goes to the Hosmer School. Â

Chloe immigration web