Migration Similarities of Island People Essay

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Migration Similarities of Island People
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I will compare the migration experiences of the Tongan island people as illustrated in Voyages: From Tongan Villages to American Suburbs with the migrants of the Dominican Republic that Peggy Levitt discussed in The Transnational Villagers. I will further describe how many of their encounters mirrored the life of "Dan," an island native that shared his transnational knowledge by describing the social remittances, international connections and migration he experienced.

Dan is a native of Ireland. He is a legal alien living in Arizona. He grew up surrounded by the influences of a transnational family. Migration was viewed as an acceptable and natural step in a motivated Irish person’s rite of passage. This is also the clear message of Small (1997), she noted that migration became an essential part of what it meant to be Tongan and the excitement of living overseas might be the best way to fulfill a Tongan life. (p. 43)

Dan's migration influence seemed to stem from his grandfather, who worked in a post-office when letter writing was the major form of communication. He would narrate and respond to letters from overseas, as requested by his neighbors. Many of these letters were from the Irish-Americans that had emigrated in large numbers to the United States over the decades. In 1911 for instance, the number of Irish-born persons living abroad was equivalent to 50% of the population that lived in Ireland at the time (Courtney, 2000). The international correspondence Dan’s grandfather processed, he often shared with his family. This may have sparked the desire in his daughters, one of which was Dan's mother to travel to the United States many years later.


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...ain, Canada, Australia and the United States, during this time the population in the Republic of Ireland was only 3.53 million (Courtney, 2000). In1995, more than one-quarter of the entire population of Tonga, both Tongan born and American born were living in the U.S. (Small, 1997). Levitt (2001) pointed out that eight and a half percent of the Dominican Republic’s population lived in the United States, but they do not necessarily intend to stay in the U.S. (p. 22)

Americans tend to have a belief that their country is superior, consequently we believe that everyone, if they could, would be a U.S. citizen (Small, 1997). As Dan proved, this is not the case, although he felt that it was his destiny to come to the United States, after 13 years of residing in America, he has no doubt that his identity remains that of an Irish man in America and not an Irish-American.

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