New American Stories


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Dating Through the Eyes of an Immigrant

This is the second in Prairie Public’s series “New Americans Stories.” Dating rituals vary from culture to country. Whether it be meeting through friends, family, or yelling up to someone’s apartment to get them to come down for a date. As Erika Lorentzsen reports, people of all cultures experience the beginning of relationships in different ways.

Kina Wong

Dirk: And where I’m from we actually meet through friends.

Kina Wong: I watch carefully. Before I go out with anybody.

Shamsi: As Muslims we really don’t go on dates. It might be arranged by family member. Saying this person would be a perfect match for you and before you know it there’s a wedding in place.

Edwin: So in Puerto Rico most of the time when you want to get a hold of someone you have to literally call out for them, even if you‘ve called on a cell phone before. You get there most homes don’t have doorbells. And most young people live with their parents anyway. Calling out from the street and everyone will hear.

Shamsi: In Islam when we are going out in the public, we are supposed to go out with male figure from the family. Who wants to have a male figure following you around on dates?

Dirk: Oh yeah we’re dating for a year. I was like you’re dating for a year? Are you not a girlfriend and boyfriend? We don’t have those steps. We’re dating, seeing each other. We’re either a couple or not. That happens either quickly or not. I guess that’s what everybody does in Germany and now all this jazz to ask. It’s difficult for me to understand if I can ask somebody out. If they are open to it. I just don’t ask someone out. This is a story in a bar. I like you I think and I want to find out. I would like to see you for coffee or a beer. I want to go to a movie, which is dumb because you can’t speak.

Edwin: Yo it’s Edwin. Who are you calling for, Rosa. The neighbor has found out and everyone knows. It’s not such a weird thing. It’s expected that boys like girls and girls like boys. Especially if you’re friends already, you don’t have to necessarily be defining thing just wanted to stop by and talk.

Kina: I’m pretty tradition. Asian men dating American women, and I’m still old fashioned. I don’t actually date. I was married pretty young. So my parents don’t really allow me to date. I’m not Asian or Caucasian; it’s what comes from the heart of a person. I don’t look at a different culture and have it come to that.

Dirk: Usually you meet at a private setting party or 8 to 10 people dinner. Usually when you find your partner you get introduced through a gathering, friendship environment that’s the majority of the times. Here you’re in college and you get married. Where I’m from, none of my friends is married. One friend is getting married and he’s 34. So maybe it’s a little like in the big cities in the US, the Chicago, NY, the majority is not married past 30. It’s a good thing to do your education, find your job and get financially stable to actually feed a family.

Edwin: In terms of defining the relationship, I’ve heard of a lot of people here defining the relationship. I have never heard of that of people having to sit down and do that. In Puerto Rico in the little bit of dating I’ve done, I’ve never had to come out and ask someone, well, what do you want and what does it mean to do this. Things progress naturally.

Kina: I don’t. I guess I don’t date. I guess I’m just scared. Scared of relationship.

Coming Up:

That piece was prepared by Prairie Public and independent producer Erika Lorentzsen. This series was made possible by the support of the Humanities Council and FM Area Foundation. Next we’ll hear a story about dating varying from generation to generation and culture to culture.

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New American Stories is funded with support from the North Dakota Humanities Council and the Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation and with support from the members of Prairie Public.

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