Immigrant Heritage Month – Peggy and Pepe
June is Immigrant Heritage Month. Throughout the month, we’ll be celebrating both our diversity and our shared American heritage by telling the stories of individuals that, together, comprise a uniquely American narrative.
“Mom came here all by herself looking for work. She was chasing the American Dream. When she first came over, she learned English by listening to people speaking it in the cotton fields. She would listen to them, go home and watch soap operas to try to better understand.”
My mom’s side of the family is from Ireland and my dad’s side is from Mexico. I moved here in 1983. I moved away from Lincoln for just a few years for grad school, so I have been here a long time. I grew up in Omaha and I was going to college there and was unhappy. So I wanted to come down here and check it out, and I liked it. It is an easy community to live in, an easy place to be able to bike everywhere you want to go and it is really affordable. I knew Pepe was Mexican, and my last name gives away my background even if my physical features don’t. People used to think I was adopted because of my last name, Gomez. But there are so many people like me out there.
My dad was born in Omaha, but his parents are both from Mexico. There are two stories, I don’t know which one is true. The first is that my grandparents came from the same village outside of Guadalajara in Mexico and they knew each other there. They came separately to Omaha and reconnected there and fell in love. The second story, which is more juicy, is that my grandmother was born in a village in Guadalajara and my grandfather was born in Mexico City and he and his brothers took off and went to California and stayed for a while and then went to Omaha for work.
He supposedly told my uncle, “If somebody ever comes knocking on your door saying that I am their father, you should probably believe them.”
I was born here in the United States. My mom’s side of the family is from Chihuahua, Mexico, and my dad’s side is from Texas and Germany. I have been here in Nebraska since 2004. I was looking for work, figured it would be a two month stay. Plans have a way of organically changing when you make them too far in advance.
My parents split up when I was six, and my mom came here to America. I really don’t know much on my father’s side other than he was part German. Mom came here all by herself looking for work. She was chasing the American dream. When she first came over, she learned English by listening to people speaking it in the cotton fields. She would listen to them, go home and watch soap operas to try to better understand. She said she was in complete culture shock when she got here.