Audio Recording of Interview
Feven Fisshaye tells of her early life in Ethiopia and deportation to Eritrea before emigrating to the United States, and the culture shock upon realizing the American experience was not as rosy as portrayed on Grey’s Anatomy. Fisshaye speaks of the differences between the religious cultures of Eritrea and the United States and her engagement with her family’s Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity in the markeldy different landscape of Atlanta.
Other interviews of this person can be found below:
Narrator: Feven Fisshaye
Date: July 9, 2019
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Summary: Feven Fisshaye tells of her early life in Ethiopia and deportation to Eritrea before emigrating to the United States, and the culture shock upon realizing the American experience was not as rosy as portrayed on Grey’s Anatomy. Fisshaye speaks of the differences between the religious cultures of Eritrea and the United States and her engagement with her family’s Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity in the markeldy different landscape of Atlanta.
Topics: Childhood, identity, education, immigration process, employment, family, cultural adjustment, conditions back home, religion
Section 1: (00:00-08:16)
Childhood/Identity — was born in Ethiopia, and is an Ethiopian citizen, but parents are Eritrean. Lived a comfortable life in Ethiopia until she was deported to Eritrea. Feels like her adolescence was stolen from her, but that it made her a better person.
Education — did mandatory military service, and then had to navigate a bureaucratic educational system in Eritrea, which she says is unlike that in the States
Immigration Process/Employment — was excited to come to the U.S. because she feels that it is a place where you can do anything if you will it, unlike Eritrea.
Section 2: (08:16-18:54)
Family — came to the U.S. before she had any close family here, and was supported by her family back in Eritrea. Says that it was difficult to study and live on a tight budget with her mom and siblings there.
Cultural Adjustment — her original impression of the U.S. from Hollywood was proven wrong; had to learn that not everyone was rich or had gainful employment. Used to watch Grey’s Anatomy in Eritrea.
Education — has graduated undergrad and bought a home, and now wants to go to medical school and become a doctor. It’s hard for her to be involved in the Eritrean community in Georgia because she is working so hard on med school applications.
Conditions Back Home — her dad lives in Georgia, and her mom is visiting on a visa but wants to go back to Eritrea. She misses Eritrea and her friends there.
Section 3: (18:54-28:04)
Religion — most people in Ethiopia and Eritrea are Christian or Muslim, and she herself is Christian Orthodox. Says that people in Eritrea respect each other’s religions, and both Christians and Muslims participate in the holidays. Christians often observe saints’ days and Sundays as well, which her mother still does, even in the United States. Although she finds some aspects of religion disagreeable, she still observes things like Lent because she likes the self-discipline, and says her friends here in the States are very supportive.
Section 4: (28:04-36:48)
Conditions back home — says that Georgia feels like home now, because she feels comfortable and secure. Although in another sense, Eritrea was her home, she didn’t feel secure there, because the country was in transition. She came to the United States to feel secure, and says that some might feel she was selfish for not staying and trying to help.
Family — likens the conflict and insecurity in Eritrea to a fire, and says that some members of her family were more comfortable staying in the fire than others.
Section 5: (33:48-43:32)
Religion — says that under Christianity, there are 3 main sects in Eritrea, Orthodox, then Catholics, then a small number of Protestants. All of the protestants are mostly in cities, because, in the countryside, it’s hard to procure land for a prostetant church because most of the Christians are Orthodox or Catholic. The government requires Christians to be one of those three sects, and people are not allowed to label themselves as other religions, and you must follow the religion of your parents. She enjoys that the U.S. is more open with religion, and that she can enjoy, for example, Catholic concerts even as an Orthodox Christian.
Discrimination — begins to recount a story of when she and some friends were arrested for praying, but the recording and transcript cut off here.