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Storytelling in Our Immigrant City: Fatima

By Manny Cantor Center | In Archive, Arts & Culture, Meet MCC | on December 7, 2017

In anticipation of the opening of Sharing the Miracle: Storytelling in our Immigrant City on December 14th, we will be highlighting a few stories from this exhibit. Within this space, we are celebrating the stories, struggles, successes, and life perspectives of twenty five people whose lives have been touched by immigration. These stories are of the neighbors, staff, volunteers, and family of the Education Alliance and the Manny Cantor Center.

 

Fatima

I’m from Syria, and I came to the States in January of 2012. I lived through about 9 months of the uprising. My family just got out recently. My dad made it in a boat to Italy. He almost drowned in the sea and was rescued by a Netherlands ship. He made his way to Sweden. My mom and the kids, they left the country about 22 months ago.

I’m from Homs, which is where the uprising started. Before the uprising, Syria was a peaceful, welcoming country. People there were really nice, welcoming, loved everyone who visited the country. You would just be walking in the street asking for directions and the minute they found out you were a foreigner, everyone would invite you for a tea. In our tradition, this is a sign of welcoming people and offering peace, to make you feel like you are in a safe country.

I felt very welcome in New York and especially the Lower East Side. You feel like no matter what your nationality is, your religion, you fit perfectly because it’s a melting pot. Here you look around and feel like a citizen of the world. I see all the nationalities, hear different languages everyday, which brings comfort. I wish people were living in harmony everywhere like they do on the Lower East Side because they just want to live. Do I feel welcomed in New York? Yes, I do. Did I have cases where I felt I’m not welcomed? Yes, I did, unfortunately.

Let’s go back to history, where are you from? America is a country of immigrants. That’s what made the United States the United States. That’s what made it the strongest country on the planet because they have people from different backgrounds, different minds, who opened up new opportunities. People, when they come here, they adapt so well because it’s a melting pot. The main source of power of the United States is being the nation of immigrants.

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