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City workers share their stories for Immigrant Heritage Month 2017

Throughout the month of June, the City of Philadelphia celebrates Immigrant Heritage Month!

Immigrants play a vital role in our city, and the same is true in our local government. From the Water Department to the Mayor’s Office, we reached out to workers and asked them to reflect on their time in Philadelphia.

Here’s what they had to say!

Sonia moved to Philadelphia from El Salvador when she was 17. She worked various jobs from a factory worker to a nanny and a housekeeper. Today, she works at the Philadelphia Water Department as an Environmental Engineer III.

Her advice to new immigrants is to “Never stop dreaming,” and most importantly, “Believe that you are not alone, then the road to that dream will have no barriers.”

NinaNina is the Deputy Mayor of Public Engagement. She made Philadelphia her home when she moved from Bangladesh at the age of 21.

“I love Philadelphia and am very grateful for all the opportunities I have had available to me.” Not shy about her love for this city, she shares that she loves the people who are warm and welcoming. Nina felt the most welcomed in this city when she became a new mother, “Our neighbors welcomed our new baby home by decorating the house and being supportive to my husband and I as new parents.”

Maari moved here from New Zealand as an adult. She started working as the Recovery Officer for the City of Philadelphia. Currently she works as the Director Policy & Strategic Initiatives in the Managing Director’s Office.

Maari highlights Philadelphia’s block parties as one of the aspects she loves most about living and working in the City of Brotherly Love. “You can talk to people who you might not usually spend time with in a very open and welcoming environment.” The openness and the stories exchanged is “always interesting and helps build a connection.”

AnnaComing from the United Kingdom, Anna is the Budget Director in the Finance Department.

Philadelphia instantly made her feel right at home – “I felt welcome fairly quickly. Even ordering coffee when I first moved here made me feel special!”

Anna’s piece of advice for younger and new immigrants to help them adapt to a new city is to get a dog. “It’s a fantastic way to meet your neighbors, as you are walking them in your neighborhood.”

Samuel, a former US Army Veteran, moved from Nigeria at the age of 20. He now works in the City of Philadelphia at the Water Revenue Bureau as an accountant.

As an immigrant in Philadelphia, he loved the first-ever International Unity Cup held in the city last year. Not only did the Unity Cup greatly enhance diversity in the city, Samuel said, “it extended more welcoming hands to the immigrants in this city.”

The second Philadelphia International Unity Cup will begin later this year. Visit the Unity Cup’s website for information on upcoming games.

Be sure to follow the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on our work!


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