German Veliz grew up in Cuba and left in 1994, for Florida. He lived and worked in Maimi for 14 years as a pipe fitter, welder and electrician, never needing to learn English in the large Cuban enclave, which included many former neighbors and friends. German and his brother came to Maine for a two week visit and he never left, feeling like he had finally arrived in America. German believes that we may be from different ethnic backgrounds but we are all one community, living and working together. He studied English through Portland Adult Education and has worked many different jobs in Maine, appreciating all the unique experiences and support he has received here.
Reza Jalali is Coordinator of Multicultural Student Affairs at the University of Southern Maine. He is also an esteemed teacher, writer, community organizer, and Muslim scholar. Originally from Iran, then educated in India, he has called Maine home for over twenty years now. During this interview he reads from his latest book Homesick Mosque about how subtly and profoundly relationships changed after 9/11 for Muslim members of our community. This book and his others, Moon Watchers: Shirin's Ramadan Miracle and New Mainers (author of the forward), are available at local bookstores as well as from booksellers on the web.
Abdi shares his stories about what it was like growing up in Maine in an immigrant family, what education means to his family, and some of his hopes for his future.
He also characterizes how he perceived Somalia when he visited there last summer with his family--a child of the diaspora sees third world Somalia with first world eyes.
Victoria Chicon was raised in Lima, Peru, the daughter of a Chinese father and Peruvian mother. She worked as a filmmaker, editor, and instructor before immigrating to the US in 1998. In Maine she has helped to raise her grandchildren, worked in hospitality, volunteered at community radio and community TV stations and teaches Spanish to elementary school students. Victoria passionately advocates for members of the Latin community in Portland, ME and can be heard weekly on WMPG (90.9FM) Sundays from 12:30-2PM on her Spanish music and information program called Cruz del Sur, or you can stream it live from www.wmpg.org.
To see her program "Nosotros, We The People" on community TV, visit www.ctn5.org.