Ithacan Immigrant: Leelia
We interviewed Leelia for this week’s Ithacan Immigrant, who emigrated from Liberia to the US at the age of 16. In 2012, Leelia and other family members came to ISP to get assistance in applying to become US citizens; all of them were successful in pursuing naturalization. Five years later, Leelia has returned to Catholic Charities for legal immigration services so she can petition to bring her mother to come to the US as a permanent resident.
ISP: Why did you come to the US?
My dad came to the US as a student at Cornell and became employed by them. He then sent for me and my brothers to join him.
ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?
Because my Dad was already here.
ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?
We came in the fall so I thought it was pretty. But it was cold; I wasn’t expecting that so it was kind of a shock. My first few months here were fine. When I started school though I changed my mind because the kids were very mean. Kids are so mean to immigrants, especially when you can’t speak English. I felt like a newborn baby learning how to crawl and walk all over because I had to learn how to read and write. Liberian English and American English are so different.
ISP: What is your favorite American food?
ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?
TJ Maxx – they have good deals.
ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?
Monrovia is crowded, everyone is on the street, it’s loud, people are selling food, clothes, everything. Here it is quiet. No one is on the street being loud and selling whatever they want. There’s not a lot of cars or traffic in Monrovia but here there’s a lot of traffic.