Theme: Adjusting

Interviewee: Anonymous

Role: Seafood processing workers

Date of Interview: 2007 to 2010

Collection: New Bedford Processing Workers 2007-2010

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: Immigrant women processing workers reflect on adjusting to a new way of life in the United States.

Many Central American women are employed in New Bedford’s seafood processing industry.  These exhibits were created using excerpts from oral history interviews with 15 of these women.  Each exhibit is thematic and includes the voices of several women.  The interviews were conducted in Spanish. An English language transcript is provided. 

Transcript: I7- I didn't like it. I couldn't get used to being away from my children. I missed my country. I felt so strange here, everything was so unknown.

I1 - I wouldn’t go out anywhere. My husband was the one who had enthusiasm for everything. I wouldn't even go to the store. I stayed in bed the whole entire month. I cried; I wouldn’t eat.

I3-When one is over there and watches the television they look and say "wow the United States how miraculous" but when you’re here you have to face the reality. Imagine over there cleaning tables and just cleaning it’s normal doing all that work at home, but when I came here it was ALL FISH!

I11: One leaves from there and really doesn’t think about it, you just know that you are coming to work but you really don’t know what you would be doing for work . . . Since my brother worked in the fish house . . . he found a job for us and we started working.  The first day we started at 7 AM. When I got there my brother said “you have to use this, this and this.” Well, I put on the jacket. I put on the sleeves. I put on the gloves. After they gave me an apron and because I had the gloves on and I wasn’t used to wearing them, I couldn’t even tie my apron. When we went into the plant, I didn’t know what to do with myself-we were like chickens with our heads cut off (Guatemalan phase: like a just bought chicken). And everyone just started at you because you have just arrived (from Guatemala) and your skin was still dark. . . It is difficult because like I tell the other women I work with “you don’t know if it is summer, it is cold all the time.” And because of that, the winter is the worst for us because it is not just cold outside, but it is cold inside. You are in the cold all the time and you get sick too. I tell my husband “when I go back to Guatemala when I am 50 years old I will look like I am 70, I’ll be all wrinkled from the cold I came to suffer over here.” . . . It is not a job that you say “what a great job I have”, or something to feel proud about. Instead people have the idea in their head that it is the worst job to have. It is not a pleasant job. Everyone says “where do you work?”  “In fish processing” “Ugh!” they always say. When we compare jobs we say, “Yes, it is the worst, but where else am I going to get another job?  “I don’t know where.” One stays working there out of necessity.*

*(Note: background noise- child is sleeping during interview)