Category Archives: Ithacan Immigrant

Ithacan Immigrant: Eh K’Pru

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Eh K’Pru who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Burma in 2013.  She is currently working on her GED and plans on attending college at TC3 to study English and then pursue a career where she can work with children.  Eh K’Pru, her mother, and brother came to Catholic Charities to get assistance with applying to be U.S. citizens.  We wish all of them good luck with completing their path to citizenship.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

Because I wanted freedom and to study.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

My cousins live here and they told us if we came to the U.S. to live near them because it was nice.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I liked that there were a lot of parks, there’s a lot of nature, the people are very kind in Ithaca and the education is very good.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Pepperoni pizza – but I only eat it sometimes, not everyday.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

I usually shop at Walmart.  I like to look for clothes there and shop for food.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

I don’t really know about Burma because I was too young.  I remember being in the refugee camp in Thailand – it was very nice and I enjoyed going to school.  I went to school with a lot of friends and we learned a lot of things.  We had 7 classes: math, science, history, Burmese culture, Karen culture, geography and just a little bit of English.  School here is totally different.  Here I studied English, math and global studies.  I got too old to finish school so now I’m working on GED.

 

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Ithacan Immigrant: Mario

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Mario, who came to the U.S. following the back-to-back hurricanes that destroyed many homes and businesses in the Caribbean, including the hotel where he was working in the Virgin Islands.  Mario, who was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, survived his first winter in upstate New York and even though he wasn’t too keen on the cold weather and snow, he said his first spring in Ithaca feels like “paradise.”  He’s been accessing our citizenship services in order to become a U.S. citizen.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I was searching for more opportunities.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

I was in the Virgin Islands and we got hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and there were a lot of damages.  The apartment where I was living lost its roof and the hotel where I was working got completely destroyed and I got displaced.  I have a cousin in Newfield so I came here.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

It was love at first sight.  I love the buildings and the people are very friendly and helpful and it has everything you want.  Anything you want, you’ve got it.  It’s an academic city so I feel comfortable.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Pizza – I like pepperoni and bacon at Domino’s Pizza.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

Walmart – everyday we end up there.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

Ithaca kind of reminds me of my hometown in the DR – they’re not that much different.  It’s small and you feel the warmth of the people here like you do when you are there.  It’s not so big and not so small – both are the right size.

 

 

 

Ithacan Immigrant: Plel

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Plel, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Burma in 2016.  His wife was joined him in the U.S. this past year through the refugee resettlement program we have at Catholic Charities.  We are providing Plel with legal immigration services so he can adjust his status from refugee to legal permanent resident.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

Because I had family here.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

My mother lived here – we have over 100 relatives in the U.S. and probably 50 of them live in Ithaca.  We have lots of cousins.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

There’s not a lot of people fighting in Ithaca.  There’s a lot of beautiful things here like waterfalls and it’s clean.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Salad – I like the ones at GreenStar.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

I don’t really like to shop.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

In the U.S. there’s good education and a lot of jobs.  Back home where we lived, we didn’t have a good education, we didn’t have freedom and we got punished by the Burmese government and the Thai police so we couldn’t go anywhere.  Here, everybody is happy.

Ithacan Immigrant: Moe

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Moe Ler who naturalized as a U.S. citizen on February 2, 2018.  Moe, his mother, uncle, and grandmother received tutoring from Tompkins Learning Partners before accessing the citizenship services offered at Catholic Charities so they could become U.S. citizens.   Moe’s path to citizenship began almost 12 years ago when he entered the U.S. as a refugee and ended at Tompkins County’s Supreme Court during one of the biggest snowstorms Ithaca has had in recent history. Congratulations to Moe and the rest of the Ler family.

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 ISP: Why did you come to US?

I came to the US because my mom was having a hard time because we were living in a refugee camp and we decided to come to the US for a better life.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

My mother’s boyfriend recently died in New Jersey so we decided to come here because we had family here.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

My first impression was it’s very small.  But there’s great people here.  It’s very peaceful – I feel like I’m back in my country in Thailand because you can see the mountains.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

It would be pepperoni pizza.  I don’t really eat American food.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

I don’t go shopping but I would say the Mall. 

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

The freedom.  In Ithaca you have a lot of freedom about where you want to go.  In Thailand, I was a kid in a refugee camp so I didn’t know a lot of stuff.  I was young and growing up and trying my best to learn about the world.   In the refugee camp you couldn’t go out – here I drive everywhere and I go to work and go to BOCES to learn more English. It feels a lot freer here. 

Ithacan Immigrant: Paw

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We interviewed Paw, a Burmese national, for this week’s Ithacan Immigrant. Paw came to the U.S. in 2006 through refugee resettlement but didn’t move into the Ithaca area until 2014.  We featured him in this blog post just a few months after he moved to New York.  This past fall, Paw accessed our citizenship services and since then has successfully passed his citizenship interview.  He is on deck to naturalize this next month in Syracuse.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I wanted to live in a free country.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

My mother and sister were living here so I moved to Ithaca.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I liked it because it’s a nice town, nobody bothers you, there’s not so many people.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Spaghetti.  Before when I lived in New Jersey, my brother-in-law used to cook that and I liked it.  I think it’s my favorite.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

Walmart – it’s a little bit cheaper than the mall.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

It’s very different.  Burma is so hard to buy what you want – we don’t have money, we don’t have many clothes or food.  In Ithaca we have a job and work and when we want something we buy it.  It’s very different.

 

Ithacan Immigrant: Dereje

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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.

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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.

Ithacan Immigrant: Luay K & Luay G

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We interviewed two Karen brothers, Luay K. and Luay G. for this week’s Ithacan Immigrant.  The brothers lived in a refugee camp from 1997 – 2015 on the Thai/Burmese border and were resettled in Ithaca where they had family ties.  They came to ISP to access our legal services in order to adjust their status from refugees to legal permanent residents.  Since this is our first Ithacan Immigrant post for 2018, we wanted to wish Luay K, Luay G, and our other immigrant clients, Happy New Year!

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ISP: Why did you come to the US?

LK: We lived in a refugee camp and didn’t have freedom to go outside.

LG: I wanted to know about America and to have a better education.  I wanted to make a new life.  We lived in a refugee camp and we couldn’t go anywhere there.  We were afraid to go outside.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

LK: Because I have family here.

LG: (same answer)

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

LK: There was a lot of snow so I didn’t want to go outside.

LG: There was a lot of snow so I thought this place was no good.  Now I love it here because I feel like it’s better than any other place.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

LK: Pepperoni Pizza – I like to go to Pizza Aroma

LG: Pepperoni Pizza – I like Pizza Aroma, too.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

LK: I only go to Walmart.

LG: Aldi’s because it’s a little bit cheaper.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

LK: In the refugee camp when you want to buy something you don’t need a car.  Here you need a car to buy something.

LG: The weather, the culture, everything is different.  With Karen people, everybody is like family and everyone stay in one house.  Here you go to your job, you have different houses.  In the refugee camps if you want to communicate with people you don’t have to use the phone, you just yell and they hear you.

Ithacan Immigrant: Paula

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Paula, a Costa Rican national who is taking the steps to become a US citizen.  We first met Paula when she accessed our legal immigration services in 2013 in order to file an application to become a legal permanent resident.  She then returned this fall to access our citizenship services.    Paula also interned with ISP and is interested in pursuing practicing immigration law as a career.

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ISP: Why did you come to the US?

I came here to visit my aunt and uncle and then eventually began to attend school.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

Because this is where my relatives lived.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

It reminded me a lot like my hometown, San Carlos.  I thought is was very green and everyone was friendly. 

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

My husband’s grandma’s foods – collard greens, fried chicken, mac and cheese, and banana pudding. 

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

Wegman’s – it’s the only place you can find the closest food to Costa Rican foods.  I buy yucca, plantains, Maggie, and good Costa Rican coffee.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

The weather and the food. The weather here is a lot more extreme.  It’s extremely hot in the winter and extremely cold in the summer.  In San Carlos, it’s hot but we always have a breeze.  As far as the food, I grew up waking up at 5:00 am every day and my Mom always had breakfast ready.  She had rice and beans and platanos and a slice of cheese.  Over there we always had a big breakfast, a big lunch and then coffee in the afternoon with bread or tortillas.  Here, we are busier and have less time to prepare meals like my mom does in Costa Rica. 

Ithacan Immigrant

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Zaye, who emigrated from Liberia to the US in 2001 through family reunification.  We first met Zaye in 2012 when she and her daughter came to ISP to get assistance to apply to become US citizens.  Like many other of our clients, they were eager to naturalize so they could vote in the 2012 presidential election.  Zaye recently returned to ISP to access our legal immigration services.

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ISP: Why did you come to the US?

I came to the US through the refugee resettlement program because there was war in my country.  My parents were brought here by my sister during the war and then they sent for us.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

I decided to live here because my sister and her husband lived here.  At that time, her husband was a professor at Ithaca College.  They helped my kids go to school to learn, read, and write English.

 ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

Ithaca is a good place, especially if you have kids.  It had the best education for my children and for that I’m very grateful.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Thanksgiving turkey.  My brother-in-law makes that so good.  He stuffs it with a whole lot of things and we have a fine time.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

Aldi on 3rd Street.  I still go there.  I like Wegmans but it’s expensive.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

There’s a great difference between Tappita and Ithaca.  If I were to stay in my hometown after the war, it would have been difficult for my kids to go to school.  We wouldn’t have had the money to educate them.  Here, some of them have completed college, and some of them are still in college.  They had great opportunities by coming here.  All my kids are citizens now and they continue to work hard.  I taught them how to be independent and responsible.

Ithacan Immigrant: Marie Jose

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Mary Jose, a native of Costa Rica, who moved to the US with her siblings through family reunification.  This fall, she will be leaving the Ithaca area so she can study at Temple University in Philadelphia.  Her aspirations include returning to Costa Rica and opening a non-profit for low income people who are diagnosed with cancer.  Mary Jose came to ISP to get help applying to become a U.S. citizen.  The picture below was taken last week at Tompkins County’s Supreme Court after she received her citizenship certificate. 

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I came here to study and have a better future so I can open a non-profit back in Costa Rica.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

My father decided to live here and I joined him later.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

It was beautiful.  I came here in the summer and my brother used to take me on bike rides and I remember thinking it was really green.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Last year was the first American Thanksgiving that I had so I can say that was my favorite American food.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

Ithaca Bakery – I like the chicken noodle soup and their French vanilla coffee.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

The buildings.  I grew up in the city and there were a lot of buildings.  Ithaca has a lot of trees.  The people in Ithaca are friendlier- people always say good morning and hi.  When I first got here, I wondered why people were always saying hi to me.