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Staff of the International Institute of the Bay Area Citizenship Workshop, photo credit ︱ Peter A Hess
Our Immigrant Heritage Stories
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The Missing "H"

"My father came to the U.S. from Taiwan for graduate school and my mother followed him here. Apparently, when my father was applying for graduate schools, he saw Pittsburg and thought, "Oh, great! The East Coast!" Unfortunately, he didn't pay close enough attention to the missing "h" or to the location of the school and that's how I ended up being born in Pittsburg, Kansas."

Amy Wang
Staff Attorney

Foreign Service Officers

"My father’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Russia/Rumania. They were fleeing an area of conflict due to the Russian Revolution. My grandfather had been imprisoned for distributing Socialist literature. He managed to escape, got word to my grandmother to meet him in Austria, and they left for the U.S.

My mother’s parents were German and were living in Paraguay. My grandfather was with the German Foreign Service and my father with the U.S. Foreign Service. My mom (16 years old) met my dad there. They married in Uruguay and he brought her to the U.S. (as an IR!)."

Jackie Raine
BIA Caseworker

Escaping Civil War

"My parents are from San Miguel, El Salvador. I was born in San Salvador, El Salvador. My parents immigrated to the United States in 1984 because they were running away from the civil war. My mother did not finish college due to the war. We were living in fear, it was a devastating time and the only hope was to survive. The reason why my parents chose California was because they had relatives already living there. I was reunited with my parents in the U.S. in 1994 when I was eleven years."

Xenia Martinez
Administrative Assistant

A Trip to Disneyland

"When I was seven years old, my parents, my 5 brothers, and I came to visit Disneyland. It was the best vacation of my life. It was the only time we could travel all together before my mother died a few years later. I promised myself that I was coming back to California when I grew up, and here I am, the first person in my family to immigrate from Mexico to US."

Rosa Uriarte
Citizenship Program Associate

William Penn

"My ancestor, Samuel John, left Haverfordwest, Wales in 1705. He was a Quaker and came to America seeking religious freedom. He was inspired by the ideals of William Penn, and so he and his family settled in Pennsylvania."

Catherine John
Administrative & Executive Assistant

The American Dream

"My dad immigrated to the U.S. from Michoacán, Mexico when he was 16, along with his mom and 2 older brothers in search of a better life. Two years later he met my mom, whose parents are also from Michoacán, Mexico. My Grandfather immigrated first in 1962 to work at a Flower shop. He was paid less than $1 per hour. Both families settled in Redwood City, CA. I am proud of my Mexican roots and even more that my dad and grandparents were able to achieve the American Dream."

Erika Hernandez
Administrative Manager

Political Asylee

"The year was 1990 when my mother and I left Nicaragua by land and arrived as political asylees. After spending 3 months in a detention facility in Texas, we were freed, and by a stroke of luck ended up in San Francisco. Since then this beautiful, foggy and ever-changing little city has become my home."

Dannhae Herrera-Wilson
BIA Caseworker

All Aboard

"My mom's side of the family came from Guanajuato, Mexico during the Mexican revolution to work on the railroads in Omaha, Nebraska. My great grandma always told the story about taking a train and getting off in San Antonio, Texas and asking where she could find Omaha. The train station attendant said you still have a long way to go!"

Caroline Keating
Staff Attorney

Irish Potato Famine

"My father's side of the family is Irish. They immigrated here in the 1800s during the potato famine. The story goes that my great great (great?) grandfather got a job off the boat blowing glass in a Macy's department store window. I don't know much of where my mother's side of the family is from, historically speaking."

John Carroll
Project Coordinator

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