Hi my name is William Wallace. Im 14 years old and I live in Britain. Im going to America on a boat that will drop us off at Ellis Island. Im keeping a journal throughout my voyage to America because one day I hope to send it back to Britain so all my relatives can read what it was like. My parents cant come with me to America because they only have enough money for one ticket and they told me that they want a better life for me, so they are only sending me.
Tomorrow will be my first day on my voyage and tonight I need to pack and get all belongings for the trip. My aunt Marry is gonna be there waiting for me. I cant wait until I get to America and I am so excited about the trip. My parents have given me $15 incase of emergency, and told me that no mater what people say to you, never spend that money on anything that is not mandatory.
Well Im on the boat now but it seemed like it took me forever to get on it. All morning I stood online waiting and waiting when realized that the reason I was waiting online was because I had to fill out a Question sheet. If I remember, there were 29 or 30 questions on the sheet but I think it was 29 every immigrant that was going to America had to fill out the sheet. Im not too sure what it was for but there were questions such as, “How much money are you carrying?”,”What nationality are you?” and “What is your native language?”, and a lot more stuff like that. At first I was scared to leave my parents and my home country because Im now all on my own, and I have no one to help me threw life for the next couple of days. To tell you the truth, I sort of feel helpless.
Today I was trying to get some fresh air on the boat and I came across a couple of older men and women that were flipping a coin to see who would win money. I remembered that my parents told me about stuff like this and they said it was called gambling. They also told me that I can never do stuff like this and especially while Im on my voyage. These older men and women kept trying to ask me to play but I kept saying no to them. They wouldnt stop asking and I didnt know what to do so I just ran away and went back to my cabin.
I didnt eat much at all today because I felt really seasick because there was a storm that lasted for the entire day.
I cant believe what happened to me. I lost me journal that day of the storm and I cried for almost the entire next day. I was so happy today when I found my journal in my suitcase in the inside pocket. I dont remember how it got there but I dont care because Im just glad that I found it.
We are suppose to arrive in New York harbor in 2 days and Im starting to get really nervous and scared. What happens if I get deported and I let my parents and family, in Britain, down. I dont think they will ever love me again. They had such great expectations for me in America and if I dont excepted into the country for some reason I dont know if I would be able to face my family. I have to try to not think about these things right now.
One of my roommates was telling me a lot of stuff about Ellis Island. Did you know that there is an Angel Island on the west side of America somewhere, where all the same stuff happens that happens on Ellis Island.
He also told me a lot of other stuff that he had read in a book. He said that Ellis Island was the Island that would either make you or break you. He said that it was nicknamed “The Island of Hope and The Island of Tears”. He said that 1,000 people per month were sent away and deported. He said that the goal for all immigrants was to get through the golden doors. He said that 9 out of 100 people were held for mental illness. He said that the American goal was to keep a healthy work force. The one thing that really caught my attention was that he said that a lot of the people that died on Ellis Island were children.
I was starting to get really scared at all the things that I was told about Ellis Island but I tried to put it behind me and convince myself that he didnt know what he was talking about and was just trying to scare me. I couldnt help to thing though that he was right and was telling the truth.
I find that the main reason people are scared it because they dont want to be deported.
When I woke up today, I saw something amazing, it was The Statue of Liberty. It was breathtaking and I new it was big but I never new that it was this big and this beautiful. When I saw it, I kept thinking of freedom and how good my life would be if I lived in America with my aunt. I would make a lot of money and be able to bring my entire family from Britain hear to “The Promise Land” and we would live a great life together.
When we were pulling up to the dock and everyone was pushing and shoving to try to get to the front. It really didnt matter though because there were so many people already there. The line seemed endless and it seemed like I never was going to make it onto to American soil. For the first time I realized that my life was about to change and I was about to find out if I succeed in life or fail in life. What if my aunt forget about me? What if she isnt waiting for me on the other side of the Golden Doors. This is what counts and this is what matters. It is time for me to be somebody in life and it is gonna happen right now.
As I started getting closer to the actual building it seemed like it was getting more and more crowded. It got to the point where I couldnt even see anything anymore. It was so dark and scary and the only way that I could see light was if I looked up. As I was walking up a large stairwell, I noticed that people were making being taken out of line and other American doctors and policeman were writing these weird symbols on the lapel of peoples jackets. It was a surprise to me that no one didnt come over to me and write something on my jacket. I started to get scared. Almost everyone was getting written on except me. What if this means Im gonna get deported. My heart was beating really fast and my eyes started to tear. I began to think that I came all this way just to be turned down. What should I do and what should I say. I dont know what to do anymore.
About ten minutes later, they started to split people up by nationality and by native language. There were so many different lines to go to and I couldnt hear or see which one I was suppose to be in.
Finally I found my line and I noticed that the guy in front of me was the guy who tried to get me to gamble on the boat. He had this really weird thing written on him. if I remember correctly, it said “L.P.C.”. I didnt know what it meant or what to make of it, but I did realize that they sent him away somewhere. I never saw that man again in my life.
This guy in front of me was having trouble stating his name. He talked funny and the people taking down his name couldnt understand what he was saying. This guy said that his name was Pauli Demichi, and these people wrote it down as Paul Demmaka. I thought this was unusual because I wouldnt want my named to be changed and these other immigrants didnt even care.
After a little while, it was my turn and they started to ask me all of these weird questions, but
there was something about these questions. It was at the tip of my tongue but I didnt know what. Then I had this weird flashback and remembered that they were the same questions that I was given before I got on the boat to come to America. “Was this a trick?”, I thought to myself. What was the purpose of it? I answered the questions just like I did before I got on the boat, but I started to sweat a little bit because I was so nervous.
About five to ten minutes after I started sweating, a doctor pulled me aside to a separate section where a lot of funny looking people were. These people had really messed up looking faces and were drooling and things like that. I didnt understand why I was hear with these people who were fools in my eyes.
A doctor come up to me and started to ask me these really confusing questions such as “How many legs does a horse have?”, and they also asked me to count backwards from 30. I really didnt know what this stuff was all about. After about five weird tests and questions, I was sent back to where I was originally.
While I was there, I was asked, at least six times, “How much money are you carrying?”. Over and over I told them $15. They also asked me if I can read and write and of corse I said yes. At first it didnt seem like they believed me but I took out my journal and showed them that.
A lot of the doctors were asking me if I have ever heard of something called trachoma was. I had no idea what they were talking about. I ask them it was a book or a game, but they didnt answer me. Then I remembered that I heard some people talking about it on the boat but I still didnt know what it was.
After they asked me about trachoma, they brought me over to another doctor who took some sort of a hook and poked it threw my eyelid. It really hurt and I started to cry. They were looking in my eyes for something and they told me it was for trachoma. Thats when I got confused, but the doctor said that I was ok and good to go. I got so excited and thought to myself that it could be almost over and I would finally be an American citizen. My eyes lit up and a smile struck my face. I thought about how my family would be proud of me.
As I was going threw the Golden Doors, I was thinking to myself and noticing the surroundings. I saw how kids 11 and under were being sent back with a parent, and how if one person that you traveled with wasnt excepted right away, that his or her fammily would stay in housing across the way. I also saw the hospital that Ellis Island had. There were so many people in the hospital and it was very overcrowded. It was a shock to me that Ellis Island could handle all of it. The one thing I really noticed, was that I could hear babies crying and crying and never stopping. The babies were anywhere from 1 month to 12 months old. There were even newborn babies there. When I thought and heard all of this I realized how lucky I really was to make it without any problems at all. I just started to cry when I thought of this. But I stopped because I have to put all of that behind me because I was about to become an America citizen and there was almost nothing more I wanted at that time.
As I walked threw the doors, I looked for my aunt. At first I couldnt find her. I thought maybe the picture I has wasnt recent and she didnt look like that anymore. Then I saw her. It was my aunt Margaret. She looked exactly like she did in the picture. I was so happy to see her and she felt the same about me.
As I hugged my aunt Margaret, I looked back at the doors and swore that I would never forget what it was like the day that I became an American citizen.