Friday, March 20, 2009

Immigration Now - Family Stories

For a course on immigration at Hunter College, students were asked to interview close relatives about their family histories. The NY Times describes six of these fascinating stories (every immigrant family in the country has one) as well as the students' new-found appreciation for their parents' struggles. Aleksandr Akulov's mom, for instance, left her job in Russia as a mechanical engineer to move to New York, where she was paid less than minimum wage at a laundromat.

Ilirjan Gjonbalaj (top right) learned that his parents were smuggled into the US from Albania. When his father died in a traffic accident, Gjobalaj's mother defied Albanian norms discouraging women from working and took a string of odd jobs including coat checker for the Metropolitan Opera. The Times article includes audio excerpts of the students' presentations, as well as a multimedia feature.

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