I heard of my great-great-grandmother Ester Shapira for the first time in March of 2014. That year I joined a guided trip to Argentina to follow the footsteps of the Gauchos Judios*. The only thing I knew about any of my ancestors was that my maternal grandfather Miguel Tepper, was the first one to be born in Argentina and became a Jewish Gaucho.
I come from relatively recent immigrants, and married into a family of immigrants as well. One set of grandparents was born In Ireland and the other in Lithuania; they came over here through Ellis Island as adults and settled in communities of others like them. My grandparents and aunts and uncles all spoke two, sometimes three languages. They encountered severe discrimination and some of them felt shame about their origins, accents and language skills. They worked in laundries and on delivery trucks. My aunt Mary lost her arm in a mangle, and would not go back to Ireland to visit because she didn’t want the family there to see what had happened to her here. They had come over on boats to find a better life. Their children flourished. I married into a Hungarian family; my husband was the first to be born here. Krusoe is an Ellis Island name.
Fourth Grader, Philadelphia
There are sixteen people who live in my house, my parents, my three sisters and brother, my grandparents, my three aunts, my uncle and my three cousins. We speak Mandarin, Vietnamese, Cantonese, and English. I share a bed with my three sisters. When I grow up I want to be a doctor.
I have lived in Texas since 1986. My husband is from McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley and through the years I have come to know that area. I enjoy the breezes, palm trees and the flatness of the land. I have also witnessed the change from an agricultural
region with citrus orchards and fields of vegetables to an urban complex with vast residential subdivisions and typical chain stores and restaurants. This evolution began when NAFTA was approved 20 years ago.
Then 9/11 happened. And with that, immigrants who lived in the U.S. with a green card or illegally had to be afraid of being scrutinized for illegal activity—even possibly
We want to move beyond the stereotypes, to grow a more compassionate community and to personalize experiences of migration, immigration, assimilation and/or deportation. This blog will feature stories from our Beyond Borders: Stories of im/Migration exhibition artists and the broader public.
See sidebar for more information and contact us at Blog.GutfreundCornettArt@gmail.com. Kori Kessler, our Curatorial Assistant, will post your stories, help you edit them and get them out to our community.