Our Blog Calendar Sign up for updates Donate

Immigrant ROOTS; Maria

Maria 

By Srosh Anwar

"Not understanding English was a barrier which limited my ability to get better jobs or assimilate with the local culture. I would understand nothing about my daughter’s school and would sign papers without knowing what was written on them."
 
 
 
My name is Maria and I was born in La Romana in the Dominican Republic. My mother passed away when I was just six and my father was never around at that time. I went to Puerto Rico on a boat with one of my older cousins when I was only nine years old. Once in Puerto Rico, I was adopted by a couple with whom I lived until I was a teenager.
 
I stayed with my adopted parents until I was 19 and then came to the United States. I flew to New York City hoping for a better future. I came out of the airport knowing nothing about where I was supposed to stay that night. At that time, I did not even speak a single word of English. People around me were talking and asking me questions but I had no idea what was going on around me. I got scared and started crying. A cab driver helped me out. He knew a lot of people and he helped me find a room to stay that night. He also helped me find my first job in a restaurant. I worked in restaurants, factories and what not, until I found my last job which I did for 17 years.
 
I made friends right away after coming here and they have been more than family to me. However, it was hard to adjust to the cold weather which made me really sick. Not knowing English was also a barrier which limited my ability to get better jobs or assimilate with the local culture. I would understand nothing about my daughter’s school and would sign papers without knowing what is written on them.
 
I started taking English classes a few months ago after spending more than a decade here and it is rewarding in so many ways. I am able to communicate well with the people now and able to navigate my life without asking for assistance from other people.
### 
The New York Immigration Coalition's weekly blog series "Immigrant ROOTS" features the many stories of New Yorkers impacted by immigration and migration. The project aims to explore the "roots" of individuals that make for so many diverse experiences that are a critical fabric of New York.
 
Every week, the NYIC will publish a different story from our "Immigrant ROOTS" series. And this will be ongoing!

 

Share your story! If you'd like to share your story and be a part of this project, please contact us at sanwar@nyic.org and tyaku@nyic.org to schedule an interview. 

Translate

 Rss Feed    Site Map    Terms of Use    Feedback    Contact Us