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Katrina Gustafson


Katrina Gustafson was born in Wheeling, IL in 1994. Her mother had migrated to the United States from the Philippines, and her maternal grandparents moved to the United States to be with her family during Katrina




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Katrina Gustafson Transcription
“Tradition and Exploration”

My mother and her five siblings were born in Manila, the capital and largest city of the Philippines. My mother and her two sisters migrated to America during the 1980s and 1990s in search of employment and education opportunities. My mother Socorro came to the U.S. as a recently graduated nursing student. Her sister Gigi arrived after finishing medical school. Finally, my aunt Vina traveled to the U.S. to pursue her Master’s degree in New York City. In 1991, my grandparents, or my lolo and lola, decided to follow their daughters and migrate to the United States. My lolo, Leonardo Lanzona, a retired doctor, and my lola, Virginia Lanzona, a retired pharmacist, migrated to United States to be closer to their grandchildren and to embark on a new adventure in a foreign country. After arriving, my lolo and lola moved into my mother and father’s home in the small town of Wheeling, Illinois. Listening to American music and watching American television helped my grandparents immerse themselves into American culture and improve their English comprehension and speaking abilities. My lolo had even attained an American driver’s license by the time I was born in 1994.
My first childhood memories include playing in the park under my overly-cautious lola’s supervision and spending the afternoon watching jeopardy on my lolo’s lap. Before I entered kindergarten and began learning the correct English pronunciations of vowels and consonants, I pronounced words like “Jeopardy” and “sugar-free cookies,” my lolo’s favorite snack, with a Filipino accent. I even pronounced my Swedish last name Gustafson as “Gustapson” until my teacher corrected me.
As both a daughter and granddaughter of Filipino immigrants, I was raised in a world characterized by two cultures. While I remember watching American cartoons and rummaging for pieces of candy during the Fourth of July parades, I also remember smelling the pungent yet appetizing scent of dried fish in the kitchen and quivering at the sound of my lolo swearing in Tagalog. On days when my lolo picked me up from elementary school, I would sing along to the melody of “Dahil Sa Iyo” in between attempts to convince my lolo to buy me a kids meal from Burger King.
Although my grandparents moved back to the Philippines while I was in middle school, their presence has shaped my perception of culture and identity. I may have born in the United States and only half Filipino, but my Filipino heritage will always play a huge role in my life. I will forever be inspired by my lolo and lola’s simultaneous loyalty to tradition and openness to exploration.