Category Archives: Ithacan Immigrant

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.

 

Ithacan Immigrant: Zar

~8958845This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Zar, a Burmese national, who came to the U.S. through the refugee admissions program in 2011.  Prior to resettling in Ithaca, Zar and her family lived in a refugee camp on the Thai/Burmese border for over 20 years.  She and her husband initially came to ISP when the family was eligible to adjust their statuses in the U.S. from refugees to legal permanent residents.  Zar and her husband then returned to ISP to get help in applying for citizenship.  We want to thank Tompkins Learning Partners for providing Zar and other citizenship applicants in our community with the tutoring needed to prepare for their citizenship interviews.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I wanted freedom.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

We had friends in Ithaca so we came here through the refugee program.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I liked it because it was quiet.  I visit other places and there are a lot of people and I like it quiet better.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

I can’t think of any.  I don’t like American food.

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

I like Wegman’s.  I like how the food is fresh.

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

In my country the soldiers were no good.  In this country they are good.

Ithacan Immigrant: Rosa

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We interviewed Rosa, a national from the Dominican Republic, for this week’s Ithacan Immigrant.  Rosa came to the US through marriage and is currently pursuing her BA at SUNY Cortland.  She recently came to Catholic Charities to get help in applying for citizenship.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I came here because I had married a citizen from the US.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

My husband’s uncle married a local Ithaca girl so he was the first one who lived here.  In 2008, my husband moved from Texas because there were more jobs and it was a quieter life.  He was living here when we got married.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

It was beautiful – I came in the summer and it was like paradise.  There were lots of flowers, lots of colors and lots of green.  During my first spring I said wow to how beautiful the flowers were.  In my first winter I said – wow, I love the snow.  Now after many winters, I say okay, it’s winter.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

McDonald’s.  I like French fries and the grilled chicken sandwich.

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

My favorite is Target.  When it’s the end of the season they put everything on sale and then you can find everything.  I like Kohl’s and Bon Ton for the clearance sales.

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

The difference is the beach, the weather, and the food. There, you are more free to go outside and play. I worked right on the beach and I could be outside all of the time.  The food is also different; we eat plantains, rice and the fruits are more tasty.

 

Ithacan Immigrant: Alice

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Alice, a Kenyan national, who is currently taking the steps to become a US citizen.  Before immigrating to the U.S., she was a professional bee keeper in her former country.  Alice is currently studying to become a entrepreneur at TC3.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I came because of marriage – my husband was from here.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

My husband’s family was in Ithaca so we moved here.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I loved the people in Ithaca.  They are always smiling at you and are kind.  They’re very nice people.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Five Guys Burgers  – I really like their combo burger.

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

Wegmans – they have everything under one roof that you need.  And it’s fresh.

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

I have to say the change in seasons.  Here I have to deal with winter.  Also the time change is a big deal for me.  In Kenya the sun rises at 6:00 in the morning at sets at 6:00 at night.  I don’t like the time change here.  I get depressed when it starts to get dark here at 4:00 in the afternoon.

Ithacan Immigrant: Chaz

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We interviewed Chaz, a Jamaican national, for this week’s Ithacan Immigrant.  He initially lived in South Florida when moving to the U.S. and eventually made his way to upstate New York to attend Ithaca College.  Chaz is also a young entrepreneur who has started a web design business.  We are helping him file his application to become a U.S. citizen.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

It was my parents’ decision to come when I was younger.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

I went to Ithaca College and have stayed because it somewhat reminds me of Jamaica (except that it’s cold).  The landscape is similar with its hills and winding roads and the dense vegetation.  At least during summer it’s like Jamaica.  Plus the roads have periodic potholes like we have in Jamaica.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

It was a very liberal town in its progressive thinking.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

My guilty pleasure is truffle fries with garlic aioli – they’re hard to find so regular fries will do.

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

Narrative Space – I like how they have it set up in there.  They give you cookies, there’s a barber shop and it has all American products.

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

My hometown was St. Andrew in Jamaica – the warmth would be the biggest difference.

Ithacan Immigrant: Naw Poe

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We interviewed Naw Poe, who came to the US as a refugee from Burma, for this week’s Ithacan Immigrant.  The picture below was taken when she accompanied her father to USCIS in Syracuse for his citizenship interview.  After he naturalized, she also went through the interview process, had her N-400 application approved, and is waiting on her swearing-in ceremony.  Congratulations to both Naw Poe and her father with their achievements toward  US citizenship.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I came to the US as a refugee; I came here for better education and a better life.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

My family first lived in Buffalo and then we decided to move to Ithaca because my sister was living here.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I thought it was beautiful.  But the weather is different than my country; it’s colder.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

That’s a hard question – probably hamburger and French fries.

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

I like Kohl’s – they have beautiful dresses there.

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

In Burma there is better food. Here it is hard to find the food that I want.

Ithacan Immigrant: Walheed

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Walheed, a former Egyptian national who was also the owner of one of Ithaca’s favorite pizzerias, Sindbad’s, before it closed. Walheed has been accessing our legal immigration services in order to bring his wife and children to the US. He has hopes of opening another business sometime in the near future that will feature seafood and be a place to get “really good fish.”

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I came to see what the US looks like.  I was a student in Egypt at the time, wanted to work a bit for the summer time, buy a car and go back. I ended up staying, got married and became a US citizen 7 years later. 

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

My brother-in-law was living here, working in a restaurant and he said the business was good here.  I moved from Staten Island, came to Ithaca and opened up a restaurant in Collegetown.  We were in business from 2004-2009.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I loved it when I came here.  I grew up in the country; I’m so used to seeing green everyday and love it.  It’s a nice place to raise children – there’s parks, swimming pools, and I get to take my kids ice skating.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

When I first came to the U.S. I ate White Castle for the first three months.  Then I got to know other things – I love spaghetti and meatballs and Philly cheesesteaks.

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

Kohl’s – they have good products, good materials and always have sales there.

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

Everything here is nice and organized.  Everyone is pleasant and smile at you all the time.  In Egypt it was chaotic,  we don’t have these kind of parks here, the air is very polluted.

Ithacan Immigrant: Bailtal

~8958845This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Bailtal, who recently naturalized as a US citizen.  Bailtal, a former refugee from Burma, came to ISP for citizenship services along with five other family members.  All of them were successful in having their citizenship applications approved.  We also featured Bailtal and his mother in this post.  Congratulations to all of them!

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

Because I wanted to get my own freedom. When I was little I moved to the refugee camp in Thailand and I didn’t have any outside knowledge and all I did was go to school in the camp, studied basic English, come home, eat & play. We couldn’t go outside; here you can go almost everywhere in the US.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

I had a friend and she told us this would be a good place for you.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I was surprised of the people who worked for the refugees.  They showed their love and worked very close with us.  

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Hamburgers, fast food.

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

Wegmans – they have a lot of food that we eat.  My favorite would also be Asian Chinese store.

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

The biggest difference is the weather – here it’s crazy.  I love the summer.  Wow, in the winter it was really crazy.  And the culture – the way people communicate, the way they socialize is all different.  Back there when you go to school you talk to your friend, you can touch each other – here it’s completely different. 

Ithacan Immigrant: William

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We interviewed William, a former Burmese refugee, for this week’s Ithacan Immigrant.  William was originally resettled in Texas but eventually made his way to Kansas City and decided to live in Ithaca several years ago so he could live near his cousin.  Over the years he accessed our services to find employment and to become naturalized as a US citizen.  William’s youngest daughter just turned 1.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

There was a civil war in my country so I came as a refugee.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

I first lived in Texas but had family in Ithaca – my cousin lives here.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I thought the city was cool.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Mushroom burgers.

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

The Ithaca Mall.  They have a lot of stores so it’s fun for me to go there.

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

The weather – there’s no snow in Burma!

Ithacan Immigrant: Nana

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Nana who is well-known in this area for his drumming and dance performances.  Originally from Ghana, he has been going through the citizenship process and hopes to naturalize this summer.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

  I came to the US to work – I came to explore my culture.  I teach and perform.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

 I find it to be very spiritual place – everything is organic.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

My first impression was that it’s wonderful.  Everyone is nice and everything is within walking distance.  It’s a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business which makes me be careful.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

 Steak and potato

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

Green Star and Wegman’s

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

 I am able to share my culture here – back home nobody cares.