We launched the First Days Project in 2013 because we realized that stories of immigrants’ and refugees’ first experiences in the United States were not being collected, preserved, and shared with others.

What makes the First Days Project universal, is that regardless of whether their first day in the country was five, twenty, or forty (or even more) years ago, it is a day that most immigrants and refugees remember very vividly. After all, the first day in a new country is so much more than just one day. A first day can be full of excitement, nervousness, loss, humor, sadness, adventure, confusion, and a mixture of many other emotions. A first day both encapsulates what came before and anticipates what will come after.

Initially, the project collected South Asian American stories, but as we heard from educators, journalists and others who were interested in contributing and sharing stories from other communities, we expanded the First Days Project to include stories from anyone who has an arrival story to the United States from any part of the world.

SAADA’s hope is that the diversity of stories represented in the First Days Project will reflect the diversity of the American immigrant experience.

We invite you to browse the stories in the project and submit your own, or Become a Community Historian to help us collect stories.