Peace and Sense of Place

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By Gabrielle Rodela

Editor: Katie Williams

As human beings, we are shaped into who we are through our life experiences. Annalie Campos works in the International Studies Program of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work and Criminal Justice at Oakland University. She moved to the United States from the Philippines many years ago. Her outlook on life is that it is an adventure; it is not about where you are, but [about] the people and the interactions you have.

GR: Where did you grow up and what was your lifestyle like?

Campos: I was born and raised in the Philippines. I lived in a town called MacArthur. The town is divided into districts. My family lived in district 1. Within our district was the church, a town hall, and schools, which tells you what was important. My family lived within a 5-minute walk to all of those places. 

In the Philippines, school was very rigorous. We went to school for 10 hours Monday through Friday with an hour lunch break. We ate rice three times a day, much of the time with fish and vegetables. MacArthur was a safe place to be. There was a sense of peace in a rural area.

In third grade, my family owned the first TV in our district. It was 17 inches, black and white. People came from near and far to watch our TV every day. That was our first introduction to the United States and our window to the outside world. 

GR: What led you to move to America?

Campos: I was newly married back in the 80s. My husband got a Rotary foundation scholarship. He moved to East Lansing to go to MSU, and two months later, I followed. I left everybody and everything there. 

GR: How did it feel to leave?

Campos: It was an adventure. I wasn’t scared, I’m educated, I had already completed my Bachelor’s and I can speak the language. I was excited, I felt adventurous and open to all possibilities.

GR: Do you go back to visit often? 

Campos: My husband and I go back and visit once in a while. We went back in 1997 after my husband got his Ph.D. and I got my masters. We were pioneer professors at a university and we stayed for four years and I had two of my children. The most recent time I went was in 2018. I had a ticket to go in 2020 but the pandemic put a halt on that.

GR: What Filipino traditions have you passed on to your kids?

Campos: I have three daughters. In the Philippines, when we cook, we would share with our neighbors and that’s a tradition I carried on. Everything that made us happy, was shared with our neighbors. I would send my kids next door with a bowl of food to give to our neighbors. My American neighbors would be shocked. 

Filipinos are keen on respect for elders. My kids will call other Filipinos Tito or Tita to show respect. It’s a reflection of how much they respect their elders.

The most important part is education. We practiced that strongly in our family. We wanted our kids to be disciplined, and we wanted to make sure they would thrive and be independent academically. 

GR: What do you miss about living in the Philippines? 

Campos: When you live away for a long period of time, your sense of place drastically changes. Going back is exciting to see my family. I realize though, it isn’t the location, it’s the memories and the interactions with people. The place is only a small aspect of what you miss. 

My hometown has become more populated, the houses have been re-configured and the neighborhoods that used to be separated by shrubs are now separated by stone. It isn’t what I remember. It’s the people and the experiences that make me look back with a smile. I’m still able to have interactions with my family through FaceTime and other advancements.

Globalization has made us very well integrated. I don’t so much miss the place, I miss the past interactions and experiences with people. Right here is where I consider my home.

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