Podcast by The Berkshire Eagle
Meet Alexandra Tyer: Her father's dislike for dictators shaped her path from Cuba to the Berkshires
LENOX — Alexandra Tyer’s father did not like dictators. And so they did not like him.
Gustavo Avila got jailed by Cuba’s Fidel Castro when Alexandra was 7 years old. He was released several months later, on the condition that he take his family on the first flight out to Panama.
That country granted the Cuban family asylum because Alexandra’s mother, Alejandra, was Panamanian.
In Panama, Avila, a lawyer who published his anti-government views, ran afoul of Manuel Antonio Noriega. Another monthslong jail term was the result.
The United States invasion of Panama in December 1989 set him free.
“By then he was ready to move us to Venezuela,” his daughter says, laughing.
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Meet Andres Huertas: Soccer opened the door for this Great Barrington police officer
GREAT BARRINGTON — Andres Huertas didn’t speak any English when his parents moved from Bogota, Colombia, to the Berkshires. It took a drawing of a soccer ball for him to realize that he might be able to communicate in his new country after all.
Another 10-year old boy at Undermountain School in Sheffield drew that picture and showed it to Andres as an invitation.
“I kind of understood what he was signaling,” Huertas recalls 17 years later, after his midnight shift as a police officer in Great Barrington. “That was one of my happiest memories as a child, because I was able to play soccer again. That’s how we were communicating, through pictures.”
Read the rest at http://tinyurl.com/accentspodcast
Meet Paulino Aguilar: He came to the Berkshires to provide a better future for his family
PITTSFIELD — Paulino Aguilar survived an encounter with El Salvador’s notorious death squads in the 1980’s. Aguilar taught high school students in gang-ridden San Salvador until he moved to Pittsfield in 2002. He lived on North Street and started work at 3 in the morning at the former Morningside Bakery on Tyler Street.
Read more at http://tinyurl.com/accentspodcast
Meet Tanea Lavalle: She came to the Berkshires for a seasonal job and stayed after finding love
Tanea Lavalle lives a long way from Moldova. But so do most of her former classmates and friends from this small Eastern European country, landlocked in between Romania and Ukraine.
Lavalle estimates “maybe 80 percent” of her classmates and friends have left this former Soviet republic. The ones left behind might just be biding their time until they can follow.
Read more at: http://berkshireeagle.com/accentspodcast
Meet Paul de Jong: This musician is living his father's dream in The Berkshires
NORTH ADAMS — Had Paul de Jong’s Holocaust surviving father decided to accept the job offer in New York, this immigrant’s tale would not have been told.
Vrin de Jong, a schoolmate of Anne Frank in Amsterdam, survived the murderous Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, where most Dutch Jews did not. On his first trip to the United States, by boat, in 1951, “He traveled to the promised land,” tells his son in the large North Adams house he and his wife, Carin, are renovating.
“I have the photobooks from my father and he had a fantastic time. He felt welcomed, he felt understood and unjudged as a Jew. As opposed to The Netherlands, where, when he came back from the war, people basically looked at him and said, ‘Well, we didn’t expect to see YOU again.’ ”
Finish the reading the story at: tinyurl.com/accentspodcast
Meet Bintou Kanyi: She left Gambia to create a home for her child in the Berkshires
Bintou Kanyi told her family in the West African country of The Gambia that she just had some errands to run at the village market. She did not tell them about the airplane ticket to New York.
“I ran away,” Kanyi says. “Because if I had told them that I was travelling, there were so many things they could do to stop me.”
Kanyi now works as a certified nursing assistant at Berkshire Medical Center. She also studies at Berkshire Community College and next semester will add classes at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts toward degrees in biotechnology and medical technology.
Read the full story at http://tinyurl.com/accentspodcast