“Back to Our Roots” Part II: Students discuss cultural backgrounds

Though McNick is a way to relate Rockets to one another, many are rooted in different ethnicities throughout the world. McNick students are filled with different backgrounds and the McNicholas Milestone has chosen to feature some of our students whose cultural backgrounds are a strong part of their family life.

Anthony Ramundo

Anthony Ramundo, junior, considers his family background to have both Italian and Irish roots, but it is his Italian roots that have followed his family into the states through cooking. “My family makes homemade sausage and wine just like they did when they lived in Italy,” Ramundo said. The Italian heritage is also shared by Ramundo’s siblings and a cousin at McNick: Freshman Olivia Ramundo, senior Vinny Ramundo, and senior Noah Robb.

Ramundo said his grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was only 16, and the Ramundo family continues to connect with their background through stories. Despite communication with family members in the area, Ramundo has never been to Italy. “I have never been to where my family is from; I plan to visit Italy and the relatives over there in college or after I graduate,” Ramundo said.

Hailey Bell

“My dad is originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica. He first came to the US in 1981 when he came to Miami, Florida. He didn’t move to Cincinnati until 1990,” senior Hailey Bell shared about her Jamaican roots. Bell’s family, which includes her sister, freshman Nicole Bell, continues her family traditions in her household through food. “We don’t have the typical meals of an American home. Every meal we eat is served with rice, which is common in Jamaica. Our food is also a lot spicier than traditional American food,” Bell said.

Her family also remains close to home through visiting. “I think that we remain close to our roots by keeping in contact with our family. They are far away and it can be hard to contact them at times, but we always try to get together as often as possible. When we visit we don’t stay at the resorts as ‘tourists.’ We stay with our family in their houses,” Bell shared. “We try to go to Jamaica often and our family visits us in America when they can. The first time I went to Jamaica, I was a little under 2 years old. The most recent time that I was in Jamaica was this past summer [in 2018].”

Bell talked about how growing up with her family background has affected her. “We are always taught about how people immigrated through Ellis Island and had to learn the culture. I can relate to that through my dad. He immigrated here many years ago but is still learning the culture today. In today’s current culture, there is a lot of talk about illegal immigrants. It makes me think of what my life would be like if my dad did not immigrate here legally. When my dad became a citizen a few years ago, I didn’t think much of it because I didn’t know the significance of citizenship. Now that I know how fortunate I am in my situation, I wish that those of families without the same opportunity of citizenship can stay safe in our country, too,” Bell said.


Senior Thomas Ton That celebrates a birthday with his family in December 2019. Both of Ton That’s parents immigrated from Vietnam.

Thomas Ton That

“Both of my parents are immigrants. My father immigrated during the start of the [Vietnam] war, while my mother immigrated due to the anticipation of the war,” senior Thomas Ton That said. “Back in Vietnam, my father was poor and only had his aunt and uncle for support, while my mother was relatively well off but lost quite a bit during the immigration. Both have told me the struggles of living in Vietnam, but both are very happy they took the opportunity to come here when they could because the conditions and opportunities are way better than they were back in Vietnam,” he added.

A family tradition that has followed them to the states would be the celebration of the Lunar New Year. “Our tradition is that children would say a blessing to the parents about good luck and dispelling misfortune from the family. The parents would then give the children red envelopes that usually contain something that the parents want the children to have as good luck, whether that is money or other objects. For instance, this year my father gave my sister and I both money as a good luck start to the year,” Ton That said.

Ton That has two aunts and two uncles who are also immigrants from Vietnam, along with his parents. “I have not been able to visit Vietnam; I want to but then I don’t at the same time if that makes sense? I would love to see the views my parents enjoy so much, however, the conditions there and the things people do there makes me reconsider sometimes,” Ton That shared. Though Ton That has not visited Vietnam, he and his family members remain close through many traditions, like celebrating the Lunar New Year and making traditional Vietnamese food together.

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