Ithacan Immigrant: Dereje
This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Dereje, an Ethiopian national who won the diversity visa lottery and arrived in Ithaca late last summer. We first met Dereje when he came to Catholic Charities for help in obtaining his first job in the United States. He has a degree in philosophy and hopes to further his studies at a US college further down the road.
ISP: Why did you come to the US?
I came to the United States to get a better life. I’d like to learn more, improve my life, and experience a different social life. Also for a new experience.
ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?
I came here because my sponsor is in Ithaca. My sponsor was my neighbor in Ethiopia and our families have been friends for a long time.
ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?
I liked it. I felt better. I like the waterfalls and the lake. The social life is better as well. People are supportive and helpful. I think Ithaca is a special place because there are so many people from different places here and they are all friendly and helpful to each other. Winter is a new condition for me though. In Ethiopia there is no cold like this. The summer is hot and the winter is cool, but it is easy to adapt. I hear that many people think that snow is their favorite type of weather and I am excited to experience it.
ISP: What is your favorite American food?
I like the vegetarian burger but I add meat to it – sometimes chicken and sometimes beef!
ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?
I like Wegmans. It is a big store with lots of different options. Everything you could want is there.
ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?
There is a big difference in life style. My hometown is more rural. There are no big buildings or construction going on. The water and electric supply are better in Ithaca too.