The Immigrant Voices Podcast Project brings you the voices of the courageous people who have made the U.S. their home. In their own words, you’ll hear about the lives and people they left behind in their native countries, their journeys here, their struggles and successes. You’ll hear from parents of “dreamers,” “dreamers” themselves, undocumented to naturalized citizens, and everything in between.
Caio from Brazil
Now In his mid-20s, Caio came to this country from Brazil with his parents when he was four years old. Although he has siblings still in Brazil, he hasn’t met them. Even though with the help of technology, he has grown up with them, it is not the same. Caio is a Dreamer—a very accomplished, educated, inner-directed young man with lofty goals yet with his feet planted firmly on the ground of reality. Mature beyond his years, he has had to live with uncertainty about his future status. Ever anxious about his parents’ welfare, over the years, he has assumed the role of interpreter, legal counsel, and financial advisor for them. Despite shouldering so much weight and responsibility, Caio is an optimist with an excellent sense of humor who puts anyone at ease.
Maria from Guatemala
As she looked back over her thirteen years as an immigrant in the U.S., Maria’s biggest regret after leaving Guatemala and walking through a desert filled with venomous snakes, not enough food and water, was the good-byes she never said to friends and family. Especially family members now separated by death—her grandparents. Denied a visa, at twenty, Maria risked the journey here to join her brother and reunite with the “love of her life.” Three children later, and still happily married, she had been right to follow her heart. Haunted by the death of those she will never see again, she remains undeterred as she pursues a career in Early Childhood Education while balancing her roles as mother and student to keep her family healthy and strong.
Aleide from Brazil
Curious to experience life abroad and improve their finances, Aleide and her husband Adson—whose interview was one of the first in this series—decided to emigrate to the United States from Brazil in 2007. Their twin daughters were in college, old enough to take care of themselves, and so the couple's living-abroad-adventure began. Filled with an entrepreneurial streak, Aleide soon started her own house cleaning business endearing herself to clients who quickly became her friends. Despite the strong roots the couple grew during their fourteen years in the U.S., their hearts were pulling them back to Brazil. This interview is in two parts. Aleide’s life here in Boston and then just a few days before her tear-filled departure back to her homeland. The flute music you hear in the background is by Aleide’s devoted husband, Adson.
Sarah from Iran
Ever since receiving her green card hours before the travel ban in 2017, Sarah is able to navigate between two worlds. With her residency card and on a path for citizenship, she can still visit family left behind in Iran while residing in the U.S. Working as a pediatrician in Iran for over 25 years, Sarah witnessed the cultural/religious revolution that set her beloved country back 1000 years. She dons the hajib when she arrives in Iran and then sheds it once she puts her feet back on U.S soil. A lifetime learner, Sarah has reached a fluency in English that is remarkable. Even though she considers herself retired from the work world, her thirst for knowledge never stops. During the pandemic, she enrolled in various online courses in everything from English to yoga. Libraries, community centers, whatever is available to learn more, Sarah steps up to the task. A lover of music, she hopes to learn how to play the santur, the Iranian instrument you hear in the background.
Geraldo from Brazil
Out of economic need and a desire to improve his family’s lifestyle, Geraldo and his wife arrived in the United States with their youngest son and a ten-year visa. Despite his college education in law and experience in banking, Geraldo rolled up his sleeves to clean houses and restaurants. As the years passed, learning English became a driving force for Geraldo. When the visa expired, they risked uncertain immigrant status to continue their lives in the U.S. Thanks to today’s technology Geraldo and his wife connect daily with family members they left behind in Brazil. Still, it’s a connection that can never replace the too-long delayed joy of hugging the grandchildren he has never met. Determined to expand his world beyond the local Brazilian community, Geraldo founded a home maintenance, cleaning, and handyman LLC business. An established entrepreneur, Geraldo boasts over 25 clients, continually expanding his offerings while ever mindful to keep his work life and family life in balance.
Yenny from Venezuela
In their search for political asylum, Yenny and her children escaped Venezuela in 2015 to make their way to the United States. Unable to speak or understand English but with a determination to master the language, Yenny approached the task with the same vigor she had called on to earn her university accounting degree and her commitment as an academic tutor to adults while in Venezuela. Language acquisition became her major goal while at the same time pursuing all channels to earn a living. During the pandemic she pooled her talents, including her musical abilities, to create instructional videos to teach Spanish online to children. As you listen to her story, you will be amazed at how much English she has acquired in such a short time. I caught up with Yenny by phone after the pandemic was well underway. At that time, resilient as ever, she was already teaching online and delivering packages for Amazon. The music you’re hearing at the start of this introduction is a tiny sampling of Yenny’s playing as she joined in a family celebration.
Humbling to learn how this woman succeeds despite hardships and continues to care for others. Bless her!