Today I was representing the Tenement Museum at a Gracie Mansion breakfast celebration kicking off 2010 NYC Immigrant Heritage Week. It was an honor and a pleasure to be around so many interesting people from New York City. I got to meet and take a photo with the Mayor and with the Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs from the Mayor’s Office.
The Tenement Museum and many colleagues from our neighborhood are participating in this week-long series of events commemorating the great immigrant heritage in the city of New York. Being at this celebration made me proud to be an immigrant and to work at an immigration museum. People were in good spirits and really excited to kick off the celebrations; the Mayor spoke briefly and shared a laugh with us while at the same time making a strong point about immigration.
Listening to the Mayor made me realize how important the voices of immigrants are. The Mayor encouraged all of us to fill out the census forms this year -- for many obvious reasons, of course -- but he spoke about how the census allows us to have more representation in Congress and in the New York State Assembly. More voices from places like NYC can help push forward reasonable immigration legislation for our country.
A city like New York has so many immigrants that our voices can weight more -- we can help everyone in the country understand the foundation immigrants have built here. The Mayor used this idea to express his feelings on how a country of immigrants should cherish its heritage and the influence of so many people from around the world who have made their homes here.
He encouraged us to be the ones to take the lead and be more involved. The simplest thing we can do it is fill out the census. That way, all of New York's many voices will be heard.
We can use this week to think about the influence immigrants had and still have in shaping the United States. This breakfast celebration really made look forward even more to the upcoming events this week. Of course, I celebrate my immigrant experience every day, but this week will be even more special.
- Posted by Pedro Garcia, Education Associate for Training & Outreach