“Nika” Vagner came to New York in 1989 from Warsaw, Poland. In her Welcoming Story, Nika remembers the moment she first learned she was leaving home forever, how she felt in an American classroom before she spoke English and how a sit-com and a teacher had a lasting influence on her life to this day.
“Dedicated to my YiaYia (Grandmother) and all the immigrants that came to America leaving their homeland and families in search of a better life. To all the hopes and the dreams that traveled over the distant oceans, to all the families that have scattered across this new land, may we never forget each other. As my YiaYia says, ‘Opa!”
Directed / Edited: Eliot Rausch Director of Photography: Matt B.Taylor Music: Nana Mouskouri - Telalima
An 18 year old from Russia arrives in America. She knows no one here, her blunt English is a little too loud, and most of the students at her college aren’t well, impressed. See who helps Ilona find her American voice – and her way — in this Welcoming Story.
David learned everything about the US from watching The Jetsons during his childhood in Iran. When his uncle summoned him to Chicago, he found that some Americans really do live “in the sky.” Watch David’s Welcoming Story, shot in his home high above Manhattan.
When Mona’s parents immigrated to the United States from Calcutta in 1971, her father’s best friend, Bishash, was there to pick them up at the airport. Through his funny, adventurous and extremely kind spirit, Mona’s parents discovered a powerful bond that would help embrace their new American world. Watch her Welcoming Story.
College was what brought Shuling from Singapore to the United States back in 2007. With her family still halfway around the world, she has her amazing friends here to thank for helping her feel at home, away from home.
At 17 Leila didn’t know exactly what she wanted, but she knew it wasn’t an arranged marriage in her native Kenya. Now a New York based restaurateur, Leila talks about who helped her get grounded in America and how certain encounters remind her how grateful she is to be here. Watch her Welcoming Story.
Many immigrants on the road to “becoming an American” were helped by someone along the way. Many have amazing stories to share. We hope to bring together these small acts of kindness, big-hearted moments and simple but life-changing connections and offer them back to you.
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