Blog Archives

Ithacan Immigrant: Pedro

~8958845This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Pedro, a naturalized US citizen who was born and raised in Venezuela.  He originally moved to the US to pursue an internship at TC3 where he met his future wife who was from Ithaca area.  Pedro accessed our citizenship services in 2011 and came back this year to use our family-based immigration services so he could bring his son from Venezuela to the US.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I was looking for a better life.  This is a nice country to live in – I feel very comfortable living here.  I like that it’s safe.  The only issue I have is the winter.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

I applied for an internship and got accepted.  When they asked if I wanted to go to Ithaca I said, “why not?”  So, I came here in 2000 to go to TC3 and I met my wife who was studying there.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I actually forgot about the first time I came to Ithaca.  One day I was in the Johnson Museum at Cornell and I could see the lake.  I realized I knew that lake, I had some memory about it so I asked my mother about it.  I had forgotten I had come to New York in 1981 for a summer camp (in Roscoe, NY).  We came to Cornell for a field trip.  My memory was erased.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

I love Subway – I like their roast beef sub.  Cold.  I’d like to put ketchup on it but they don’t serve ketchup there. 

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

I like the Commons.  I really like going to Simeon’s.

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

The weather is so different.  Here everything is green – there it’s so hot.  In Venezuela we always have weather that’s over 85 or 90 and for 5-6 months there’s no rain.  It’s also dirty there.  In Ithaca when it is spring I always say everything is a happy green and then as soon as Labor Day passes, it turns to a sad green.

 

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Ithacan Immigrant: Angie

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Angie, who was born and raised in the Dominican Republic.  After emigrating to the US, Angie lived in Long Island and then eventually moved to upstate New York.  She originally came to ISP for our family based immigration services and more recently for our citizenship services.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I came here for vacation but I found someone here so I stayed.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

We came to Ithaca to visit my family and we liked it so we decided to live here. 

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

It was quiet, relaxing, and I was pregnant so I was thinking about it being safe.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Philly cheese steak – I like the ones at Casa Blanca cause they’re not too greasy.

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

Walmart.  It’s not too expensive and you can find everything you need.  Every time I go to buy 3 things I come out with 20.

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

A lot of things are different but mainly 3 things – stability, safety, and good economics.  Ithaca and this country gives me what my own country didn’t.  

Ithacan Immigrant: Paul

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We interviewed Paul for this week’s Ithacan Immigrant who emigrated from Trinidad and Tobago to the US with his family when he was a teenager.  He went back to the Islands to live and study but eventually made the US his home.  Paul moved to Ithaca to obtain a degree in ag science and horticulture at Cornell.  A couple of years ago, he came to ISP to get assistance with becoming a US citizen and recently returned to inquire about our family based immigration services. 

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I first came with my parents but didn’t stay.  I went home and studied my secondary education. 

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

I left Miami and came to NY and then decided to come back to school; it was something I wanted to do for the longest but in the Islands you don’t go to school after you are 25.  But I always knew I should I should go back to school.  I was at Queens Opportunity Center and when my daughter studied for her ACTs, I decided it would be a good thing for us to go back together. We both went to Morrisville and then after I finished, I transferred to Cornell. I fell in love with Ithaca and decided to stick around.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I liked it because in the Islands we grew up in the country – there were lots of trees and it kind of reminded me of that.  I was scared though to come to school as a non-traditional student.  But it worked out find. 

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Oh gosh, the only place I eat is Macro Mama’s at the Farmers Market and Taste of Thai.  Otherwise I cook Island foods like beans and rice. 

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

I shop at Green Star or Wegmans – I like the organic, whole foods kind of thing.

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

I find lots of similarities but I I have to think about the differences.  I guess the biggest would be the beaches and the weather.  There’s only cold weather here in the winter but in my country the temperature is always warm; it’s usually 95 – 100 degrees.  Back home we have the wet season or the dry season.

Ithacan Immigrant: Leelia

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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.

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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?

Pepperoni pizza.

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.

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: Pakala

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We interviewed Pakala, a Thai national, for this week’s Ithacan Immigrant.   Pakala moved to the U.S. with his mother in the 70’s when he was a teenager.  He expressed that he’s been here so long that he feels like he is already a U.S. citizen but finally decided to take the steps to formally become one.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

My mother had a job with the government with USAID right out of university and the last place she worked was in Laos.  When Laos fell to communism she was placed in the U.S. 

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

My life has taken many twists and turns.  My relatives live here and I needed a haven.  Ithaca became a haven for me.  I ran away from reality and found a haven in Ithaca – as cliché as that sounds.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

The truth?  I was born in a large city and had lived in large cities so I thought it was quaint and at the same time I felt so far removed from everything else I had known.  That drive from Whitney Point to Ithaca, I felt like I was traveling back in time in a time I didn’t know because of the farm land, the farm houses and the old tractors.  But I grew to love it.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

My mother makes a mean meatloaf.

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

Buffalo Bookstore.  There’s a sense of community; a sense of everyone knowing everyone else.  I like the interaction of people there.

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

I find that Ithacans, as a community, care more about what makes the world whole – they look beyond the front door more.  I find that to be admirable and rare.

 

Ithacan Immigrant: Voda

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We interviewed Voda, a Nigerian national, for this week’s Ithacan Immigrant who moved to upstate New York after he married.  Voda originally came to ISP to access our legal immigration services and has returned to get assistance in applying to become a U.S. citizen.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I came to New York City for vacation and that’s when I first met my wife.  I went home, and after that I visited the U.S. again for her birthday, went home, and then came back a third time and got married. 

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

We moved to Ithaca because my wife is from around this area and she wanted to be close to her family.  She thought this would be a good place to raise a child.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I looked at it like it was too quiet and boring for me.  I was sad for a couple of months and then I started acknowledging the beauty little by little and finally realized wow, this place is really beautiful.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Double quarter pounder with cheese and a vanilla milkshake.

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

Dick’s Sporting Goods – they have clothes that last long.

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

Ithaca is kind of a tourist destination.  It has so many beautiful places that my hometown doesn’t have.  My hometown was about the same size as New York City but it’s not a tourist location.

Ithacan Immigrant: Gaw

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Gaw came to the U.S. almost 15 years ago as a refugee from Burma and was resettled in Ithaca with her family.  Since then, several extended family members, including her sister, husband, and 5 boys, have also moved to Ithaca through the U.S. Refugees Admissions Program.   Over the years, Gaw and her family members have accessed various services we offer at Catholic Charities including our citizenship & naturalization services.

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ISP: Why did you come to U.S.?

I was living in a camp in Thailand for two years and then came to the U.S. as a refugee.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

My husband had a friend living in Ithaca and so we came here.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I thought Ithaca was quiet – I liked it.  But at first I was scared to come here because I didn’t know English.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

I like salad – I really like vegetables with dressing.

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

I don’t really do much of the shopping because my husband takes care of that.  He usually goes to Wal-Mart and Wegmans.

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

In Burma, I lived in a village and we had to hide and were always scared. It seemed like over there we had to try to make everything safe all the time.    When we came here we were free.

Ithacan Immigrant: Zaw

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Zaw who originally came to the U.S. as a refugee from Burma.  Zaw recently returned to the U.S. after living abroad in Thailand for several years where he produced songs using the name “Eazy Iam.” According to Zaw, artists in Thailand would hire him to create their music and from that point he would come up with the instrumentals, write the lyrics and record them.   We’ve been helping Zaw take the steps to bring his fiancée to the U.S.

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ISP: Why did you come to U.S.?

I came here with my family to start a new life.  I was a child then so I didn’t understand fully why I was coming here.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

At that time we came to any place we could – we needed to leave the refugee camp because the  living conditions were horrible there.  Ithaca was the first place that opened up and we decided to come here.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

I liked the environment – especially the trees.  I came here during the fall so I had never seen red trees or yellow trees.  I remember seeing lots of kids playing –  there was a lot of things to take in when I first got here.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Cheese pizza.  I had never had pizza before so when I first got here it was amazing.

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

About 10 years ago it was the mall.  They had a lot of shops back then.  They had a lot more stores – Champs, Game Stop, Radio Shack and the Arcade.  If they still had those stores I would be there all day.

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

The living conditions.  We were living near the border in Burma and we lived in a bamboo type house – not really a house but a structure.  This was in the camp.  We didn’t have a road, it was very dusty and when rainy season came it was piled with mud everywhere. 

 

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.