Welcome Home. We are ALL One.

Here is a collection of family immigrant stories from across our human experience.

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My Story

My dad came over from Italy he was an amazing musician , conductor and arranger a student of the famous La Scala Milan method. When they smuggled Igor Stravinsky’s score in from Russia on “Petrouska" he was given the assignment to copy all the parts. He was what they call an “autographer” in the day meaning his music handwriting had to be perfect because they made the plates for printing the music from his handwriting. I have so many stories and recently did a 10 hour DVD interview on my life for a library of congress project. In 1988 i did the 50th anniversary of the historic Benny Goodman 1938 concert first time ever jazz was in Carnegie Hall.

I sat in Harry James chair all night playing lead trumpet and jazz solos. Isaac Stern did the intermission he was very good friends with Benny and a jazz fan. Any one who was in the audience in 1938 enthralled teenagers at the time were allowed to sit on the stage that night it was one of the high points in my career. That 1938 concert is when swing music became the national music of the country lasting all through the war and being a huge inspiration to the effort. As i was playing that night I could see decades dropping off the faces of those sitting on stage in their 60s now as they relived that historic night. The power of music!

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My Story

I love “Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome,” and thoroughly enjoyed meeting Deepak Chopra who breathes a meditative uplifting vibe to this celestial music and inspiring poetry by all three amazing writers and artists Deepak Chopra, Kabir Sehgal and Paul Avgerinos. Hearing this album can teleport the listener to a different time and place. This album is a beacon for unity showing ultimately all of us or our ancestors are immigrants. This album does indeed imbibe Abraham Lincoln's belief to live "with malice toward none and charity for all."

As a cross-media artist of conscious music and other projects, I'm the first American on my mother's side as she was born in Canton, China. My dad is second generation American as his grandparents were born in Italy. My family originally thought I was 50% Chinese and 50% Italian but after a DNA test this year, we discovered I am almost 10% Italian, almost 20% Chinese with Native American heritage. My mixed lineage is confirmed to be 50% broadly Southern European and 50% southeast Asian including Native American ancestry. The reason I create music and I'm branching into other conscious media projects is to bring cultures together in an atmosphere of positivity and spirituality. All of my music is dedicated “to the Divine,” within each being. Devotion to our Creator, to me, means embracing and giving the magic of kindness to every living thing as a particle of the all. I believe each one of us is inter-connected, which is why my T-shirts and sweatshirts are emblazoned with: {The love in you is the same in me.} America is the land of opportunity and being free. It is home for me and all its citizens who's families have immigrated from other countries. Diversity makes our country beautiful and great giving its citizens the ability to create their own life with impact and joy.

HOME © 2004 By Diana “Dilee” Maher

All is home where ever I’m with you
Loving the hills of Carlsbad and the Alps of Zurich too
How beautiful is the Ojai Valley
And a piece of London as this year's finale
Impressive are the exotic grounds of Singapore
But life with just you is so much more
Calming energy of a Hawaiian waterfall
Hong Kong’s cool with its shops and mountains that stand tall
The turquoise of the Caribbean with its white, white sand
Without you, all would certainly be bland
How inspiring is India with its poverty and devotion
Love without desire there, is more than mere emotion
All is meaningless and empty without you
How I am in love with love and just being with you too
The lakes of Chicago are certainly nice
And the cilantro salsa from Mexico has the right spice
But home is where
My heart is there
With you
In everything I do
Just thinking of you and me
Makes my heart fly free
With ease I could reach the mountain top
And walk beside you I won’t stop
You are my home
And never will I have to roam

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My Story

Pierina Rosa
There is so much to say to you
A child born with little
Your love for her in view
Until she had come up tall
From your vine she grew
Without it
She would have never known
Theres not much she could not do
I owe everything to my grandmother, Pierina Rosa. She was born in the region of Ligure in the North of Italy. Her father, Nonno, grew up with very little. He once recalled that as a child, he was given one precious orange for Christmas. He carried that orange around and admired it, smelling its oil, savoring it until it began to go bad. He ate it slowly, and swore he’d grow up and have all the oranges he wanted, and his children would, too.
In 1920 he came to the United States and a year later called for his family, including my grandmother. He started out with $9 in his pocket and ended up purchasing slaughter houses, garbage collection companies, gravel pits and a trucking company in the San Joaquin Valley.
For a man who was used to working hard without much in return, this was an opportunity he utilized well.
Having connections in the slaughterhouse/beef industry, Alfredo got a commission with the War Department. He picked up and delivered several loads of meat daily, transporting the beef short distances from suppliers to the nearby armed forces facilities. Charging by the pound, Alfredo made over a thousand dollars a day for the last two years of WWII.
These people who raised me taught me much about the value of hard work and also of love, food, and of music.
But that is another story for another time.
Stef Mariani
With contributions by Anne Whitehurst

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My Story

My great-grandfather, Francesco, came to the US via Ellis Island and settled outside Boston, where he worked as a tailor. A few years ago, I traveled to his hometown in Italy - population 800. Even today, it's tiny and somewhat remote, in the earthquake-prone Abruzzo region. I can't imagine the courage it would take to make the journey to America in 1890, knowing it would be difficult, if not impossible, to return. Today, I write books about how to reinvent yourself. Immigration is the ultimate version.

My Story

She
stands,
torch
held high
rising from
the New York harbor.

She stands,
a symbol of all
who come to the shores
of this new land,
their hopes in their outstretched hands,
much as her torch reaches high.

She stands,
a symbol of all
who come to the shores
of this new land,
their hopes in their outstretched hands,
much as her torch reaches high.

We stand,
immigrants nearly all
at some point or another—
does it really matter when we arrived
or where we once were?

We come,
for a safer life,
for our children, for our future,
for a better world.
We work to make our new land
a better place.

We come.
We build.
We love.
We stay.

The Immigrants’ Song,
by Nanette McGuinness

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My Story

ALWAYS AT HOME

Knowing my home
Is wherever I am
I am never alone
I am always at Home

What I am is Being
All that Is
I am never alone
I am always at Home

Being Presence
Timeless – Now
I am never alone
I am always at Home

Knowing the World
Appears in Here
I am never alone
I am always at Home

In this placeless place
This eternal space
I am never alone
I am always at Home

Knowing my home
Is wherever I am
I am never alone
I am always at Home

Suzanne Doucet, 2017
Inspired by Deepak Chopra’s HOME project

History:
I grew up in Europe. Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. I had traveled the globe, including Asia and the USA by the age of 25. I always loved traveling and never felt like a stranger anywhere. When I came for the first time to California, I knew one day I would live here and so I moved to Los Angeles in 1983. It was music that brought me here and Love that kept me in California. I got married in 1984 and worked together with my husband James in the new age music community since. Consciousness, Awareness, Peace through music was our intention and is still mine…

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My Story

First we were afraid
We were terrified
Thought our world would never be the same
And oh we cried

But then we saw all this injustice
Thinking this is all so wrong
And we grew strong
And we learned to move on

And so we’re here
To take our place
Come on let’s march right out the door
Get ready for the race

We just cannot lose our faith
This is home for you and me
We dream and build together
This is the Land of The free
We dream and build together
This is the Land of The free

My Story

My parents were both born in Italy. They married in Italy and then came to the USA to start their family. Dad spoke only Italian. I was born in the USA and spent my Summers in Italy with my grandparents, cousins, extended family. The Italian landscape, culture and history shaped me into becoming an artist. I create “Sacred Art” and am filled with passion and soul. America gave me the practical opportunities needed to for my spiritual work. I would not want to live in one country without the other. Both are my home. The photo enclosed is my parents on their 50th wedding anniversary at the church in Italy where they initially got married. The same priest, and bridesmaids celebrated with us. My parents 15 “American” grandchildren were there as they attended with me and my 3 siblings ... the painting on the altar is a portrait of Saint Francis Of Assisi and Saint Clare which I created because my parents were married on the feast day of Saint Clare (August 11) and theygave birth to me three years later on the feast day of Saint Francis (October 4th). As everyone knows in Italian history these given two saints were married to one another yet lived separately to begin missions in the name of Christ for the healing of humanity: The Franciscans Brothers. the Clarrissan nuns. The story is a blessed one. A beautiful life of love and devotion. Namaste, Giuliana Francesca Falco

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My Story

My mother grew up in Nazi Germany. Her mother was taken away to a concentration camp. Her stepfather was imprisoned for not supporting the Nazi Regiem. Mom could 'pass' so she was allowed to go to school but her younger sister was not. My grandmother survived probably because she was a medical doctor. They came to America after the war where my mother married my father. He was a product of the depression era and there were many times they did not have enough to eat. So here I am a Jewish shiksa growing up a Catholic studying Buddhism and metaphysics! I married a man whose 7th Great grandfather fought in the American Revolution and another grandfather fought in the Cival War. I didn't find out about my Jewish heritage until I was in my teens. It was a family secret we were not supposed to share.

Kim

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My Story

My husband, children and I carry New Zealand passports, yet collectively we have lived in Cambodia, Denmark, the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. We no longer discern by color nor culture - just the content of character - and we feel blessed to call the Earth our hOMe.

Ben

My Story

My grandmother was an Olympic athlete in Germany but was unable to jump for her home country because of the Nazis. She found refuge in the US, and although she never made it to the Olympics for the U.S. team, she was allowed to pursue her doctoral degree in Dentistry. She was the only woman in her graduating class from Dental school. Plus, she was able to live a free life in the U.S. and had a family.

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My Story

May the wonder
of our living dreams
grow like songs that
little children sing
when they find out
just what sharing brings,
when they feel their first Spring

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My Story

WELCOME

Inspired by the Home CD Project (Kabir Sehgal, Deepak Chopra, Paul Avgerinos)

Part immigrant, part native, part slave, part overseer,
Mixed salad, mixed heritage, mixed intentions, mixed emotions,
Blended families, blended smoothies, blended democracy, blended liberties,
Old world, old ways, old customs, old culture,
Human rights, human beings, human empathy, human family,
What makes each of us special, makes us stronger together!
Let us live out our dreams of peace, diversity, inclusivity, and opportunity!
Americans inside, before your immaculate arrival,
There is a place for you here, prepared by kindred spirits,
Welcome

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My Story

Mama, the meaning of unconditional love.

Born in San Juan De Salado, in the heart of Mexico, my mother is the eldest of 18 siblings. At the age of 18 she decided to travel on her own to the United States to establish a foundation for her remaining family to follow. She had never traveled on her own, scared and excited at the same time, she boarded a bus that took her on her long journey. Arriving in Los Angeles Ca, she remembers being afraid seeing all of the “modern technology” as compared to where she was raised. While sitting awaiting her ride at the Bus station, she remembers watching people dropping paper into a large metal blue box located on the edge of the sidewalk. Her curiosity got the best of her, she slowly walked closer and waited behind someone dropping another piece of paper into this mysterious blue box. When this bystander walked off, she quickly pulled the handle and threw a napkin into the opening of this box, nothing happened. She sat confused and again waited as another person dropped off another piece of paper, this time with her broken English she asked what they were doing with this box and paper. Fortunately for her, this person responded in Spanish and explained what the “Mailbox” was for.

Fast forward to 1953, she had worked many jobs for four years and finally had enough money to move her family up from Mexico. She married four years later and moved further up North to Sacramento where she had three boys who eventually gave her six grandchildren.
She became a proud U.S. citizen in September of 1996 and has always had her home open to everyone, the neighborhood kids called her their second mom.

There are many other hilarious stories of her adventures, but her determination to be a part of this new world kept her motivated to finally make this her Home.

La Mama de todos – Everyone’s Mama.

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My Story

Preface

My mother, her sister and parents escaped Nazi Germany just after Crystal Night. As a 13 yr old, it was extremely upsetting to see her beloved teachers returning from having wrecked her home. This direct experience of violent destruction along with knowing about the toll of Nazism on Jews in Germany, had a profound effect on her, shaping her worldview, especially around issues of trust. 

When my mother was 84, shortly after 9/11, she confided to me that she had forgiven the Germans. She asked herself if she would have the strength of will, with three small children at her side, to intervene if the state should come to remove her Muslim neighbors. She thought not.
Witnessing the state’s immense power to foster and perpetuate hate towards Muslims made her rethink her attitudes and, through empathy, forgive the people of her country of birth; a country our family has a 600-year history with. So this poem is about the power and the journey of forgiveness.

Out of Germany

We are who we forgive
even in our darkest night
not a moment goes by
where this letting go
is done.

This constant movement
a slim red shoot
pushing through snow,
its wilting imminent
already mistaken
for the dim-lit end.

The melting snow,
after a crystalline night,
bare ground revealed
where now
we find ourselves

drawn together
like raked leaves
gathered
from the chaos
wind leaves
in its wake.

All this letting go
sown in stories
re-seeds the soil
and in the sprouting
forgives the farmer the tilling
the fire
the burning
of last year’s crop.

Steve Garber

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My Story

It has taken a lifetime to try to comprehend what my father must have gone through to start his life over again in America some 100 years ago. He never spoke about his life in Czechoslovakia. Was it because it was too painful? Perhaps, when he started a new life his past had to be put behind.

My father died when I was just 12, and though I do have some fond memories of him, there really aren’t enough. I wish I had known more about him and his background. I found that I had to google his name to find some clues as to who he was and to what his life was about.
My father was a structural engineer and architect that built many famous homes in Beverly Hills, including the house I grew up in.

I found this post on google in Beverly Hills Heritage, “In 1925, a young man of 23 years old set out to build a grand home on North Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills. A structural engineer hailing from Czechoslovakia, Francis Nils Dlouhy constructed his near 6,000 sq. ft. home on a 42,512 sq. ft. lot for an approximate cost of $25,000. His 15 room, 2.5 story home was built in Louis XV style and the beautiful hillside view from his backyard included the 13-year-old Beverly Hills Hotel.”

I know my father was a very smart man who went to college in his teens and graduated from college at the age of 17. He was very good in higher calculus. He was still a teen when he taught himself English and headed to Hollywood.

I try to imagine what it must have been like to leave his family and friends behind.

It has taken a long time to try to understand my father who was very withdrawn and not affectionate. I am still putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and I am grateful that I could reflect on his life and get perspective on it with this opportunity to share it with you.

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My Story

This story is one of 400 oral histories that were collected by African-American and immigrant children in Oakland, California. They were part of an oral history program created by Black Swan Arts & Media. 32 of the stories became the basis of a aerial/dance, music and multimedia performance, Heart of America: Stories from the New Ellis Island. http://blackswanarts.org/heart

Here is one of the stories.

La Migra/Sand

Fire

Sand

My mom was born in Guatemala
When she came here
She came in a truck

She passed through Tijuana

There were a lot of men
Called la migra

La migra came
To arrest my mom

So she went to jail

She said she was from Mexico

Then la migra let my mom out of jail
Then they sent my mom
Back to Tijuana

Those two men came
And took my mom

In the yellow desert
With no water, no trees

It was just filled with hot hot sand

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My Story

Hymn

The Mennonite stories I grew up with

Henry Brunk
my pacifist great-grandfather
refusing to take up arms
walked backwards in the snow to West Virginia to escape Confederate spies

Are like the hymns I know by heart

“Come o thou traveler, unknown…”

My great-grandmother Suzanna
fled the South

but the bridge at Harper’s Ferry was burning

so she plunged her spring wagon into the Shenandoah River
her baby in her arms

(hymn …whom still I hold but cannot see…)

My great-great grandfather Tennessee John was called
King of the Amish
because of the regal way he rode his horse

Even today
a universe away from
their plain coats
shaped-note singing
and white foreheads that only farmers have

I call up the stanzas of their lives
enfolding me as I fall asleep at church on Sunday evenings
my head on my mother’s lap

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My Story

The Heritage of Love
I am proud of my heritage. But I am not talking about Judaism.
I fell in love with a beautiful girl. So much in love, that I decided to ask her to marry me.
With all of her beauty and intelligence, her kindness and compassion, she was everything to me. Everything but Jewish.
Was I prepared to break the ancient chain of Jewish lineage?
Was I just a California dreamer, even worse...a musician, falling for a Shiksa?
One evening I got together with my family, and I told them that I wanted to ask Diana to marry me.
I expected to hear questions like,”Will she be converting?” or “Wouldn’t it be easier to be with a nice Jewish girl?”
My grandma Lil, the light of our family, asked the only question that matters: “Do you love her?”
My heritage is love.

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My Story

Let me start by saying, "I am SO fortunate - on SO many levels!"
My father was born in a small town in Mississippi. His ancestors arrived in America from England and Scotland some time in the 1600s. He was drafted and fought overseas in WWII. That experience likely gave him the desire, after he returned home, to see more of the world. He became a geophysicist and his work took him to Alberta, Canada, where he met and fell in love with my mother. Her father and mother were born in Moscow and Kiev, repectively. They were Germans living in Russia, and in 1928 were lucky to be approved to emigrate to Canada. At the train station in their village, everyone boarding the train to emigrate was required to pass a physical before being allowed to board the train.

My grandmother was sick - we suspect it was something akin to the flu. She, as well as my aunt, who was a 2-year old baby, was denied boarding. So, my grandfather got on the train alone, and went to a window seat next to the platform. The train platform was crowded with people trying to get on the train and being pushed and pulled off. In the rush of people toward the train as it departed, my grandmother lifted the baby through the window to my grandfather who reached out and grabbed her. With one arm around my aunt, my grandfather pulled my grandmother to him with the other. She clung to the train's window frame and he held on to her and pulled her into the train as it pulled away from the station. Of the others clinging to the train, some dropped off and some were pulled into cars. They made their way to a ship that took them to Southampton, UK, where they spent weeks in a detainment center before boarding the ship, Empress of Australia, for Quebec, Canada.

Although between them they spoke 7 languages, from German and Russian to Slavic dialects, neither spoke English. But, he found work as a carpenter for the railroad and she was a cook. They made their way across Canada to Saskatchewan, where my mother was born - delivered at home with my grandfather acting as midwife. Eventually, they moved to Alberta, where their third, and final child, another girl, was born. They worked hard and instilled in their three daughters a strong work ethic and the importance of education. My mother became a professional figure skater and performed in ice shows throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan, even after marrying my father! In fact, she taught figure skating until she was 78 years old!

My father's job took our family around the world; we lived in Madagascar, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Canada and all over the USA. Everywhere we lived my parents encouraged my sister and me to learn as much as possible about the local people and their culture. It was an unparalleled educational experience for which I am so grateful. My sister, my only sibling was born in Alberta, Canada. I was born in Mississippi. On my father's side, I come from generations of native-born Americans. But, on my mother's side, I'm the first-born generation American! As a final note to this story, my maternal grandparents were both musicians - she played the 7-string guitar, and he played the mandolin. This is a picture of them playing together on the plains of Saskatchewan with my mother sitting between them!

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My Story

It’s not me, it’s you

It's not my accordion that moves your feet aimlessly
It's your smile that makes me want to sing

It's not my rhythm that gives you permission
It's your welcoming of my drum

It's not my question
It's your answer
Not my song
But your open ears

Somewhere in you
there's an accent
and it begs to be unleashed

A melody that our grandfathers chanted round the fire
an urge to untame

Don't condemn my wrong-notes as I a stumble through this keyboard
I promise I won't stare at your two left feet

Remember,
It's not me being tired, poor or yearning to breath free

It's you making feel home

-Gregorio Uribe

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My Story

Until Kabir and Paul began on this project with Dr. Chopra, I hadn't thought much about my family's origins in the USA. But then I remembered "Bumpy," my great-grandfather who immigrated to the 'States from Flint, North Wales just over 100 years ago. He was a celebrated figure in our family and, as I am the only one who is a professional vocalist in the whole clan, we all give him the credit for passing down the famous Welsh singing ability. I never knew him, though. There is a hazy Super-8 movie of him holding baby-me, Christmas lights on the mantle behind him. I wish I had a memory that wasn't celluloid, but at least I have that.

His actual name was Joseph Hughes, a solidly Welsh name, and his town was actually spelled "Fflint," not just "Flint." (The Welsh love their consonants.) His saga is one of the proud stories in our family: chosen by Harrods Department Store (London) to create their display at the Arc de Triomphe for the 1890 World's Fair in Paris..this display is seen by merchant prince John Wanamaker...Wanamaker personally asks Joseph to come work at his famous Wanamaker's in Philadelphia...and, at the tender age of 21, Joseph comes to America. His window displays at Wanamaker's always drew rave reviews, including a notable Christmas display of the "Little Match Girl," which eventually had to be withdrawn because its poignancy had tears rolling down the customers' cheeks.

There are other stories of Bumpy: a bout with typhoid fever, singing in a men's quartet for charity events, moving to New York, moving to New Haven, CT, marrying my great-grandmother, who dies a half-century before him (he never remarries). He always emphasized he was "American" not a hyphenated "Welsh-American." I am told he rolled his "Rs" and dropped his "Hs." It would have been fun to have that Welsh accent to remember him by. I owe him so much. My family and I thank you for letting us post about our Bumpy -- he would be delighted and honored (and so are we).

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My Story

Dear Deepak,

“Home, where everyone is welcome” goes way beyond a project deserving of an award. It must become a forum, a whole organization whose mission is to decimate racial, political and economic barriers and bring together people from all walks of life to pursue one common goal, which, no matter how interpreted, returns to the same thing…the peaceful, civilized existence of all of our species.

My family’s story covers several generations. It is a story of love, repeatedly caught in the crossfire of socio-political climates, a love which in every instance, prevailed over war and hatred and transcended societal boundaries.

My aristocratic German Grandmother eloped with my poor common Grandfather…

My British Father, an RAF soldier (drafted to listen in to Russian communications) wrote to my German Mother for 5 years before finding and marrying her…

And on this past Inauguration Day (one which our family did not celebrate) I, a half British, half German American citizen married a Russian-American citizen. Ironic or what…?

England, Germany, Russia, America. Go Figure.

The way ‘home’ has been long and arduous for my mother. Our family story is best told from her perspective. In 1939 when my German mother was only two years old, her mother (Liesel, my Grandmother) said to my Grandfather “Hans, you must go. Something is not right in our country”. From being a young math teacher, he had been drafted into the Reich. They were not Jewish, they were not Russian, and despite radio propaganda knew nothing about what was really going on…but they knew in their hearts whatever Adolf Hitler was doing was wrong and leading to something even worse. So they implemented their own plan. Hans got himself captured and spent the rest of the war in a British prisoner of war camp, treated respectfully and at least kept alive. And Liesel bribed a soldier to take her and the 3 children over the border to escape the Russian occupation of eastern Germany. During this journey they tell of many stories…including my mother being briefly given to a single woman without proper papers as if she was her daughter, in order to save her from the worst fate.

An important note: This side story is another example of how children were the future back then…everyone’s best hope of survival and prosperity…just as they are now, in many ways…

Eventually my mother and her family reunited, settled back in Germany and shouldered the inevitable guilt born out of the atrocities that unbeknownst to them had been afflicted on so many.

We must always remember and be reminded of what happened in that time but there are many who by simply being born in Germany since then, have taken on the legacy responsibility for the rest of the world. To them I will always be grateful because they had nothing to do with it and to Angela Merkel I also say Thank You as she has opened her borders and provided tremendous economic support for the influx of refugees to Europe from the Middle East…to help them and to continue to prove that Germany is now a different nation. Proof that things can improve.

Next Generation
My British Father and German Mother married in 1963 after 5 years of writing letters. Europe was still healing after the WWII and wherever they decided to make their home, they knew it wouldn’t be easy with a mixed marriage. My mother spent the next 50 odd years trying to fit in in the UK and finally when old age was creeping up and family and friends were no longer alive in Britain they decided to immigrate to be with me and my family.
History had repeated itself…I immigrated to the US, just as my mother did to the UK…and now to the US, too!

I sponsored their immigration to the USA, which took 3 years, partly because of the woefully inadequate communication and administration process and partly because the process saved my mother’s life!! There are always two sides to every coin.

After a year long hiatus in the process, because my mother had no German birth certificate (they had to research deeply to find any record of her German birth), they reached the final stage of immigration that most people do not even need to have. A full medical. For aging folks in their then late 70’s this was daunting. How could they possibly pass with all their ailments? Everything looked great until the doc discovered a heart murmur in my mother. Apparently we would have lost her at any minute. Within six weeks she had undergone open heart surgery for a new bovine valve resulting in a long recovery period and another delay in their move.
During my Mother’s recovery they received their Green Cards and planned their immigration for later that year. Which was last year.

They have been with us (in the same town) since August of 2016 adjusting to the vastly different culture (yes, VASTLY different from the UK) but happy to be with me, their Grandchildren and Russian Son-In-Law, happy not to be alone in the UK without family or friends, happy to be in a community who provides spiritual, emotional and practical support.

There are so many stories that I could tell of my family and it’s adjustment to being out of their worlds, their country, their norm…my own immigration, my husband’s immigration, my parents immigration, my children who are the first generation to be born here. (now in college).I could write a book…Or…I can just be thankful that we are all HOME and I can open my heart to all those who are going through the same thing.

We need to think beyond boundaries, draw parallels with others and build bridges. Even though I’m a privileged English speaking white gal I have been shaped and weathered by my journey and I can truly relate.

Best Wishes,
Heidi Breyer-Volkov (Musician)

Mia

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My Story

Our Family:
We are Celts.
We are Danes.
We are Italians.
We are Greeks.
We are First Nations Mi'kmaq.
We are here in America.

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My Story

La Langue de La Mère

The tongue of the mother
The flesh of the earth that tenderly tethers you to your root
A nourishing nest where your soul forms, then rests, like a drop of dew in a tiare flower

Papeete, Tahiti: a glinting tiger’s eye set in the silver of the south Polynesian sea; a French father and French-Scottish mother, both grateful migrants on sacred land

On the 7th cresting wave, my nascent mouth inhales the mystery & my mother tongue, la langue de la mère, the language of the sea

Ce ne sont pas les mots, c'est la musique de l'esprit qui parle

Following the footsteps of our great grandmothers & fathers who danced in the wake of the caribou and medicine plants, sustenance and songlines lead us to western shores

A new tongue grows in my mouth

I will keep gentle hold of my mother's tongue
And of her mother's tongue, and back through the nesting dolls of my people until I realize…a time before words from where all beings rise - a silent totem, our collective backbone

Like our raven ancestors we fly above man-made borderlines
Propelled by the breath of our revolutionary mother
We spiral into our divine tribes

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My Story

Not unlike many immigrants, I only know pieces of my family's story, all from my Father's side.

My grandparents met in Kiev, Russia; married, then came to the United States in the early 1900's, settling in Philadelphia.

Part of a large immigrant and family based community, they settled in South Philadelphia, where my Grandparents made a living buying, repairing, and selling clothing "seconds" to the local factory workers and their families. Too poor to have a store, they did all of this via a stand on the corner; day after day, year after year, in the heat and cold, until the cousins grouped together to form a storefront.

I can still recall the piles of clothes in my Grandparents basement when I would visit them...and my Grandmother's sewing machine.

They had little, but they did have community and family. They did their best, raised three children, the oldest being my father, Bernie. Without the opportunities that the United States provided, their story, and mine, would be different.

Lyn

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My Story

With many thanks and sincere gratitude to Deepak and Kabir for encouraging me to create and share this poem, first presented at The Chopra WellBeing Center in Carlsbad California.

Wind of Life
by Lyn Stanley
www.lynstanley.com

Wind, oh wind,
where did you begin?
Do you have an end?
Do you just swirl the universe
knowing every bend?

Wind, were you there in the beginning?
Surrounding ancestors exploring new land?
Is your travel timeless and without end?
Do you swirl the universe knowing every bend?

Wind, I felt you as a child of ten
So vivid, so gentle—a good friend,
You comforted me with spirits of love
Wrapping me in calm during rough seas above.
How did you know I needed my universe help me bend?

Souls of my ancestors, family and friends
Our bodies hold keys that link us without end
Ground to sow; garment to stitch, songs to sing -
Threads of love and courage-a perfect blend.
But wind-do you really know every bend?

Wind of Life-
Swirl your love, hold me close and dear,
Help me bend more with each progressive year.

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My Story

They came to these shining shores
with dreams for their children
They came to these shining shores
Freedom beckoning, and distant

No strangers to hunger and hardship, they came
From Ireland, Nicaragua, England, and France
They voyaged the oceans on destiny's hand
Intrepid explorers, on ships and by chance

They came to these shining shores
With providence steering their way
They came to these shining shores
How I wish I could thank them today

© 2017 Kathy Sanborn

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My Story

For most of you your past is near
From one generation to the next
Passed down - written down
The details are mostly clear

But I'm a proud bastard
Adopted on day three
I've known nothing of heritage,
Birthright or legacy
Is there something wrong with me?

I hear people talk about family history and
I wonder if I'm missing out
Not wanting for who I am,
Where I come from or things about my health

I just don't know

Do I really need all that family?
I felt ok with just us three
No need for buying all those presents
For birthdays, holidays or whatever
I've felt no lack

My music is my legacy - both played and taught
I've passed on what I know to quite a lot
My heritage I share with many
It stretches back hundreds of years
It runs from Mozart to Copeland to MIles
And in everything I hear

So I build upon a foundation
made by mentors, colleagues and friends
They guided and shaped me
The person who I am

I thank them

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My Story

My family immigrated from Eastern Europe, mostly do to the Bolshevik revolution, WWI, and WWII and the Holocaust. They settled in the Boston and New York areas where my parents and my sisters and I were born. My wife immigrated from Indonesia. It was her dream as a child to live in America and she made that happen when she was 18. It took her 11 years to become a US citizen but her perseverance paid off. In between she miraculously survived a malignant brain tumor thanks to the amazing technology and medical care she received here in the US. I met her in 2000 and we married in 2003. Today we have three beautiful children and are living the American dream in Phoenix, Arizona!

My Story

Parallels

America the beautiful
built on blood and tears
we claim to own this stolen land
denying up and down
most of our ancestors were immigrants once
by force or of their own volition

many of them were chasing a dream
of something more
pushing people from their homes
laying claim to that which can never truly belong
to anyone
they made a melting pot
where some get burned
and others rise to the occasion

all they wanted was what they deserved, they said
a place to make a name for themselves
to be remembered how they wanted to be perceived
to spread their seed
and live freely
safely
without persecution
where they had the opportunity to grow
and write their own history

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My Story

Many African Americans do not consider ourselves "immigrants" in the US narrative. This term is about people immigrating from elsewhere in search of a better life. It implies choosing to be here. African slaves were brought here against their will and as property. With my maternal grandmother's family, her great grandmother Emily Latimer is listed on the 1860 Hancock County slave register as property. My grandmother's grandmother was also born a slave in 1859. My mother's father, born in 1910 may have been the first generation of his family born free. I'm just not sure when his father was born -- in the 1860s.

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My Story

My home is where you are.
The brave and the free.

I’ve worked hard to be among you,
Your spirit, your beliefs.

As a mass we huddled to reach you
and arrived on your great shores.
A family once forgotten,
we washed up at your door.

Your bustle warmed and grabbed me.
A job! To work I was thrown
with so many different cultures, all people,
so diverse, but we were one.

I love you America, my heart, you are my home.
Once all strangers amongst us,
together how strong we’ve grown.

Please let us remember not be be remiss,
how we are each others treasures, our differences are our gifts.
Our tapestry together is what makes our America strong
We’ve built this country in unison, this home where we belong.

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My Story

Christoph Dölker (1830-1899) is my great great grandfather! (grandfather of my grandfather) on my fathers side of the family. A composer and school teacher, who wrote "spiritual's" (Geistliche Lieder).The book we found, named "Dölker" is a collection of his compositions and the 7th edition in 1881. This song is inspired by a text from Fr. Hiller 1699-1769. His Brother George, also a musician, immigrated to the US in the mid 1840's. I found his record in the census in Albany NY including his ad for his Music Conservatory where he advertised piano and voice lessons. (see attachment)

Up till 4-5 years ago our entire family had no clue that we had one of our "members" immigrate to the US. We were all flabbergasted to say the least. For the full story please watch this very short clip on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WKLXTSmgSI

My Story

Sixteen years ago, my wife and I were flying home to New York from Guatemala with our newly adopted infant daughter. Many of the other passengers onboard were Guatemalans destined for Miami and a new life in the United States. They were leaving a country where a long succession of repressive regimes and a thirty-six year civil war had killed more than two-hundred thousand citizens, and where gang and drug related deaths and kidnappings were the new norm. We were a plane full of new immigrants to America.

As the plane passed over Havana Bay, less than one hour from Miami, the pilot’s voice came over the intercom telling us that, due to air traffic problems in Miami, we were being returned to Guatemala. For many of our fellow passengers, the fear was palpable. Were they going to be arrested in Guatemala? Or worse? For my wife and me, the rerouting made no sense as we knew we could have been flown to any number of alternate U.S. destinations. There were no further explanations offered from the crew.

The next two hours passed in stunned silence. When we disembarked through customs in Guatemala City, the airport televisions were tuned to CNN International where we watched the World Trade Towers burn and collapse.

On the day that a plane full of new immigrants had their dreams deferred, immigration took on new meaning in the U.S.; politically it played to fear, misunderstanding, and the need to rationalize the completely irrational. On a personal level, our daughter, rather than growing up in a forward-thinking culture, has had to cope with increasing xenophobia and white tribalism. Despite these circumstances, she and her younger sister (also adopted from Guatemala, in 2004) have grown, achieved and prospered as millions of immigrants before them have done. They are supported by the knowledge that we all came from somewhere else; none of us are immigrants if we are all immigrants.

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SON OF A NATIVE DAUGHTER
Written by: Dorie Pride
www.doriepride.com

Where the sky meets the soil
And the wind blows through time
Where seeds of life are sown
Through blood, tears and strife
Son of a Native daughter
Daughter of an African son
Both bloods run through my veins
One brought over in chains
They told me that one great grandma’s
Eyes were made of blue
But when I look in the mirror
No trace of that shines through
On the other side they said
She walked the Trail of Tears
With grace and strength and dignity
She held on through the years
Desolation and despair didn’t break them down
I feel their souls inside of me
I stand on sacred ground
Like the ancient sequoia tree
Whose branches touch the sky
My roots are deep and steep in pride
I know that I can fly!
When the fragile blade of grass sprouts forth
And yet there is no rain
I can hear the sound of my ancestors
Calling out my name!
Stand strong and let the winds die down
Remain in trust - listen to us
And you’ll see the sacred rain
Falling from the sky…
Our spirits never die…
Feel me in the rich black soil
See me in the big blue sky
Walk with us and heed our voice
In time you will know why!

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I'm proud to share that I am featured on Deepak Chopra's new album & book, Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome. I perform on a track titled "Survivor" that is inspired by William Jimeno, a Colombian American who was a first responder to the 9/11 attacks in NYC.

September 11 impacted me because of my experience a few days prior. My Mother and I had planned a trip to NY. I changed my mind because I had a horrific dream that I was crossing over on to a bridge and saw massive explosions. When I woke up, I tried to work out what it meant. I cancelled the trip and told my Mother. She thought I was crazy. I wrote a poem at the time, “Actions Unheard,” and placed it in my collection of poetry. I titled it “Actions Unheard” because it hadn’t happened at that time, but left such an experience in my heart that I couldn’t shake.

Years later, I performed on this track song “Survivor.” I interpreted the music as being in the mist of everything that encompasses that word. As I learned more about Mr. Jimeno, I realized that in performing this song, I was perhaps coming full circle, as 9/11 was integral to my life.

This project is personal. I am a 6th Grade Dual Language teacher, and I teach a class of 32 Mexican students. My students have hard-working parents with their own immigration stories. On February 16, 2017, the day of the “Day Without Immigrants” events (which included boycotts to show how immigrants are vital to our country), only twelve students were in attendance. On that day, I gained a deeper understanding of respect for my immigrant brothers and sisters.

I am a first-generation American. I never looked at it that way before. I always stated, “I am Puerto Rican,” because my Parents were Puerto Rican. When my Father, Susano Santiago “emigrated” to the United States, he was traveling to an unknown place. I use the word, “emigrated,” because on March 2, 1917 Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship when President Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act.

My Father had a second-grade education when he came to the US and worked hard to bring my Mother. My mother arrived in the US with a 6th grade education and my older Brother, Luis Santiago. She learned to speak English by watching “Sesame Street.” Both of my parents worked in the chicken plant and later my Mother worked in a sewing factory at $1.75 to support our family. I learned from an early age that I had to work hard, be respectful, and never take anything for granted. Although my parents did not understand my dream of higher education or music, they understood that I wanted to explore. My parents told me that our family had a lot of land in Puerto Rico with acres of fruits, vegetables, etc. in the mountains of Utuado. As the land was sold for pennies to a dollar, the newer generations turned to professions of education, counseling, healthcare, and music. Their favorite pastime was singing folklore music. My real Paternal Grandfather on my Mother’s side, played the “Cuatro” and sang around the island when he wasn’t making furniture. On my Father’s side, there was also a lot of music after working in the sugar cane and farming fields. I didn’t learn to play the “Cuatro,” but music found me. I learned that through music, I could write about my life, family, and different things that impacted my journey.

Every immigrant is a “Survivor.” In this family photo, there is a picture of me when I was younger. I remember how hard my father worked to get the money for my Mother to buy the fabric to make my yellow dress with the white brick-a-brack. I remember seeing my Mother making that dress and many of my other dresses as well. I wore that dress proudly on picture day and felt special. The other picture is of my Dad on the phone. I can only assume that he was calling our family in Puerto Rico and asking how they were doing. The other picture is of my two Brothers, my Mother, and me. (Luis Santiago, Edilia Santiago, me, and Ivan Santiago) The later picture is of my Father Susano Santiago and me walking in the mountains of Utuado, Puerto Rico as he talked about his life.

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My Story

I'm proud to serve as an engineer on Deepak Chopra's new age album, "Home - Where Everyone is Welcome"

I helped record Gregorio Uribe's vocals on the track "Border," which is inspired by Reyna Grande who is an acclaimed novelist from Mexico.

You can hear the track here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHPjQ3AXbmo

I'm from Medellin, Colombia. My dad dreamed of going to Italy to study to become a great painter, since that was his passion. His sister, my aunt Inés, had already immigrated to the United States. Since his sister lived in New York, he took the opportunity to come see a Picasso exposition. My dad's plans for Italy were changed when he found an opportunity to stay in the United States, where he remained. As he explained it, he “found God” at a church in Woodside, New York. He met Elizabeth at this church and re-married. After years of marriage, his immigration status was legalized through his spousal petition.

One of the members of the church found him a job at Kinray, where he worked distributing products to mom-and-pop pharmacies in various boroughs of New York. Throughout his life, he held different jobs, from auditor of the Ferrocarril de Antioquia railway system, to bartender at his family’s nightclub.

My mother, Hilda, who stayed in Colombia with my three siblings and their father, was the one who encouraged my musical interests from my earliest years by registering me in musical programs and playing much of the traditional music of South America. With my mother’s encouragement, I accepted my father’s invitation to the United States so that I could pursue a career in audio engineering. My passion for music and for helping people deliver their emotions through art led me to become a sound engineer.

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My Story

I'm proud to be featured on Deepak Chopra's new album & book: "Home - Where Everyone is Welcome." I perform the piano on the song "Infinity" inspired by Albert Einstein who moved to America from Germany when he was a teenager. Einstein did the extraordinary: He was a hard-working man who helped us see "beyond infinity," as his scientific discoveries illuminated how we must stretch to envision over and through our limitations and understandings. What's more, he has inspired legions of young scientists and artists with his creativity.

I came to America from Malaysia because I remarried and decided to have a fresh start for me and my three children. Before our journey to America, I met a wonderful, caring man unplanned at a train station in Kuala Lumpur. What an unbelievable place to meet; for we happened to be in the right place at the right time. More than 8,000 miles away from home, I put my trust in God as I was given the opportunity to start a new life and expand my piano career.

Immigrants are important to America because it creates diversity and unifies people of different cultures. Our country also allows us to learn, grow, and share experiences from each other. Additionally, America gives everyone of any ethnicity new beginnings and various education and career options. I’m proud to be an American because I have been given multiple opportunities to learn from other Americans and share my experiences to them. Also, I am proud because I have given my three children a great environment to be in and be educated in any career they would like to pursue.Here is a picture of me with my three children at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World

I'm delighted to be part of Home because I get to work with musicians who are immigrants and we are able to share our musical views and interpretation of our work. http://home-everyone-welcome.com/gallery/family-photos/ #hOMewelcomeI'm proud to be featured on Deepak Chopra's new album & book: "Home - Where Everyone is Welcome." I perform the piano on the song "Infinity" inspired by Albert Einstein who moved to America from Germany when he was a teenager. Einstein did the extraordinary: He was a hard-working man who helped us see "beyond infinity," as his scientific discoveries illuminated how we must stretch to envision over and through our limitations and understandings. What's more, he has inspired legions of young scientists and artists with his creativity.

I came to America from Malaysia because I remarried and decided to have a fresh start for me and my three children. Before our journey to America, I met a wonderful, caring man unplanned at a train station in Kuala Lumpur. What an unbelievable place to meet; for we happened to be in the right place at the right time. More than 8,000 miles away from home, I put my trust in God as I was given the opportunity to start a new life and expand my piano career.

Immigrants are important to America because it creates diversity and unifies people of different cultures. Our country also allows us to learn, grow, and share experiences from each other. Additionally, America gives everyone of any ethnicity new beginnings and various education and career options. I’m proud to be an American because I have been given multiple opportunities to learn from other Americans and share my experiences to them. Also, I am proud because I have given my three children a great environment to be in and be educated in any career they would like to pursue.Here is a picture of me with my three children at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World

I'm delighted to be part of Home because I get to work with musicians who are immigrants and we are able to share our musical views and interpretation of our work.

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My Story

I'm happy to be part of the production team of Deepak Chopra's album & book: “Home | Where Everyone is Welcome." I believe this project concept is of great relevance, reinforcing the idea of America as a place for dreams, welcoming diversity and being a fertile ground for the good.
I got to know Deepak Chopra and his work during the production of this project and it was an inspiring experience for me. His work is known all around the world and certainly inspired many other people during the years.

Being a scholar of music and culture, and having my doctoral dissertation about the importance of cross cultural influences in the development of art, I understand and respect very much efforts to break barriers and create positive connections.

I am extremely proud of my roots and my multi-cultural history. I’m a Brazilian, great-grandson of Italian immigrants, now building my adult history in the United States of America. I’m very thankful to Brazil for being a land of opportunities to my family, as well as to USA for its generosity to me all those past years.

This photo was from a special occasion, my graduation at University of Miami, where I had the honor to be on a full scholarship sponsored by Ginny Mancini (Henry Mancini's wife), be a teaching assistant and composer in residence. To my side is my mother, who came from Brazil for the occasion and always supported me in my endeavors!

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I'm proud to serve on the production team for Deepak Chopra's new album & book: Home | Where Everyone is Welcome," inspired by American immigrants. Every family has its unique story. Here is one from ours...

Poverty, prejudice, and political pogroms may drive the fictitious plot of Broadway's FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, but our grandmother, Anna Krinitz Bluestone, actually lived it. Born and raised in a Jewish village (much like Tevye's Anatevka) located on the border of Austria and Poland, Anna Krinitz sought America's promise of "freedom from fear" and "freedom from want." A young girl, she came alone and with nothing. She never looked back. She worked in Pittsburgh, saved money, and paid the ocean passage for her betrothed, Frank Bluestone, so he could join her in America. They married and started a family. Their young daughter died; their oldest son contracted polio. Frank suffered from severe asthma, and the doctor recommended he live by the sea. The family moved to Atlantic City and opened a tiny grocery store. Now, with a third son on the way, all lived in one room behind the store.

Our dad, Herman Bluestone, the youngest of the three boys and the sweet face in the picture, would know his own dad for just a short time. At thirty-eight, Frank suffered a fatal asthma attack. Only six, Herman began selling newspapers on the Boardwalk to help his mom with household expenses, while Anna woke each morning at 3 a.m. to start her walk to the farmers' market to buy fresh produce for the grocery store that day. She never complained. Even in her grief and in the depth of the Great Depression, Anna never stopped demonstrating to her children that with hard work, tenacity, faith, and imagination, all things are possible in America. Not long after his father's death, "six year old Herman," who found comfort by singing (in his beautiful bell-like voice) at the synagogue, insisted he must have a menorah to light his Hanukkah candles. Of course, there was no money to buy a traditional brass candle holder, but Anna did not disappoint her son. Grateful to live in a country where her children could celebrate their faith without repercussion, she took a potato and made a menorah to hold the candles.

That same little boy, who grew up essentially without a father in the roughest and poorest section of Atlantic City in the 1930’s, became very “street savvy,” but his life choices always reflected his mother’s core values from her Jewish roots. Indeed, our father worked his way through college and earned his pharmacy degree. During his adult career, Herman Bluestone would became one of the most admired pharmacists in Atlantic City's medical community. In fact, he and his beautiful Brooklyn-born wife, Rita (who had her own compelling family stories of those who came from Odessa, Russia and London, England ) were the official representatives for the Ventnor Foundation, truly a pioneer organization, bringing the global medical community together in a worldwide effort to heal the wounds after the atrocities of World War II. The very Europe that had ostracized and persecuted Anna Krinitz, now graciously opened its doors to her son and daughter-in-law. Hers was not an easy life, but Anna Krinitz Bluestone's resiliency, strength, and determination are the stuff of all stoic immigrants who help to make up the soul of America. May their work ethic and devotion to family always define the character of our nation. Today, our grandmother would be the first to stand up and cheer the making of HOME: Where Everyone Is Welcome.

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I am excited to be featured on Deepak Chopra's album "Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome." I perform on a track entitled "Border" inspired by Reyna Grande, an American immigrant from Mexico and acclaimed novelist. The song is about tearing down walls and building bridges between communities.

The photo was taken in Montevideo, Uruguay, on August 20th, 1994, a very special date I will never forget, a pivot point in my life, the day I left to America.

On the left side of the picture, my parents Adriana Ocampo and Juan Pedro Casenave, and on the right, my in-laws, Alicia Marchesoni and Santiago Barranguet. In the middle of the picture, myself with 22 years, leaving Uruguay, my family, friends and my girlfriend (now wife, artist Vicky Barranguet), as I was taking a plane for the first time in my life, to study music in America.

Without any tradition of musicians in the family, both of my parents worked with computers (the first computers!), my grandfather was a lawyer’s assistant, and the other one was a Uruguayan Consul, that traveled all the time. My grandmas were housewives. In 1977, my dad, that was playing accordion and a little bit of guitar, with no musical training whatsoever and an exceptional ability to play by ear, decided to buy an upright piano. The first week that the piano arrived home, the 5 kids in the house (2 brothers, 2 sisters and myself), were fighting all day for a spot at the piano, to get to know this new magical member of the family. On the third week, only my brother Gonzo and me, were still fighting for that precious time. After that, and for the last 40 years, I earned my spot, while Gonzo kept that piano and still plays as a hobby.

During my Uruguayan years, I was blessed to have full support on my decision and acknowledgement of being a musician for life, specially from my mother. Immersed in a Uruguayan society, where one gets used to the common comment: "it is great that you are a musician, but what what do you do?" There was never a doubt for me, on what I wanted to do for a living. I also acknowledge my dad's influence and guidance, as well as my father in law Santiago Barranguet and Alicia Marchesoni, who also helped me to focus my life into music, and lived with me the process of leaving Uruguay. But for sure, the most influential being in my musical/life journey, was and is Vicky Barranguet, whom after one year and a half after my departure, joined me in America, and became an immigrant herself. From inspiration, and every type of support, I owe her the world, and the possibility to live doing what I love.

I will never forget the feeling at the airport, the few seconds after long goodbyes, walking alone towards the gate. A mix of adrenaline, excitement, fear, commitment, anticipated nostalgia, and the strongest wish to expand my musical journey, with no boundaries or borders. That special day, my immigration to America started, not really knowing what was coming, nor what to expect, but with the assurance that my musical dream was being followed.

I believe that all immigrants share in their own way, this same feeling, allowing the creation of a moving, intense and dynamic society in search of a concrete goal, which deeply contributes to the American social development and growth.

I am truly honored to be part of this amazing album!

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I'm so proud to officially announce that I am featured on Deepak Chopra's new album “Home- Where Everyone is Welcome”. On this project I sing a track inspired by Celia Cruz, a singer whom I personally met, and whose energy on stage was an example for my career as a performer. This project makes an important point in a moment where political separatism and contrasting values seem to break this country apart. As an immigrant I always admired the great possibilities that the United States of America could offer and I was inspired by its constitutional values. I was just a teen ager when I moved here, and such journey made me grow up in many different ways. During that time of personal search I discovered that my diversity as an artist was not something to be tamed or denied, but a strength. I also discovered my resilience and determination day by day.

I came to United States from Italy and my ancestors are Italian and Brazilian. My mother is very proud of my achievements and still lives in Italy. For many years it was very difficult for her to accept my decision to become an immigrant. I am her only child and my father, who was a talented graphic designer from Naples, had passed away when I was only four years old. It was hard for me as well to leave everyone behind, and to create a new life in a foreign country without the support of my family. I did not have any financial needs in Italy that would justify my decision, however, I had the spiritual need to find new meanings for my music, and to challenge myself with new musical idioms.

I had a lot to learn in the process, however, while I was trying to figure out the “American way” I realized that there is not only one American way, but many ways to be an American. In the first year I was missing my country and I longed for the day that I could go back home again, but one particular day profoundly changed me and United States became home for me. On September 11th, 2001 I lived in New York, and I worked a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. During that tragic time everyone from every city, ethnicity or religion came together to help New Yorkers in their desperate search for missing people and missing hope, and humanity prevailed over politics. I observed how bridges were created among languages and faiths for a common goal of brotherhood and solidarity, and I understood what being an American really meant.

A few years ago I finally became a USA citizen. In one of this photos you can see me holding an American flag during that emotional moment during which I was surrounded by many people from so many countries, who had their own immigrant story to tell, and a common belief in the power of freedom and equality.

In the other photo you see me on my graduation day from UCLA with my family. That was another incredible moment in my journey as I could prove to my children that they can achieve anything if they really believe in themselves. The United States of America also gave me the gift of meeting my husband Leo who is a talented musician, and a naturalized Brazilian immigrant. The family that I created in this country has been my support and my inspiration during the years of sacrifice to obtain a Bachelor degree in jazz and ethnomusicology from one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Achieving such results and being accepted the following year with a full fellowship to UCLA African American studies graduate program still feels like a dream coming true.And it is even more unbelievable when I think that only a few years ago English was a language that I could barely speak! I hope that my achievement will inspire others and prove that the American dream is not on papers, but lives within us.The song “Queen” that I sing on this album with the amazing Deepak Chopra has the heartbeat of that dream.

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I’m proud to be featured on Deepak Chopra’s new album “Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome” which is inspired by Immigrants and their pursuit of the American Dream. For those people who are not familiar with Deepak he is a very spiritual and intellectual individual whose work is known all around the world, this is why for me it’s an extra special collaboration, I play on a track inspired by Celia Cruz titled “Queen”. Since I had many opportunities to perform and tour with Celia throughout my musical career this makes my performance on this recording very special, honoring her in my own way and also inspired me to write this little poem dedicated to the Queen titled “Eternal Voice”:

Eternal Voice:
Dedicated to Celia Cruz;

The eternal voice singing through your transparent soul is forever in our minds, the music that gave you life, lives within us. "Azucar" negra, la reina de la canción, vibrant and full of life and glory walking through the heavens chanting "Quimbara" for the universe to hear your power. long live the queen!
Wilson “Chembo” Corniel, Jr.

I am extremely proud of my Puerto Rican / American heritage and I’m honored to be part of this movement if you will, of awareness of the contributions of ALL immigrants to America. My father and mother came to the U.S. around the 1951 where he worked in a factory running huge knitting machines for the textile industry, my mother was a homemaker and took care of four children, I was born in New York City November of 1953. My mother was from a town in Puerto Rico named Los Indios, Guayanilla where her father (my grandfather) played accordion and my uncles played guitar and sang mostly playing ballads and typical trio music of Puerto Rico. Thank you for permitting me to add my little piece of grain to this wonderful project!

photo 1954:
left: Wilson "Wilson Chembo Corniel, center: Wilson Corniel, Sr., right: Olga Montalvo

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My Story

I am thrilled to announce that I will be part of an important movement inspired by the American legacy- I am excited to be featured on the opening and title track of Deepak Chopra's new project entitled “Home- Where Everyone is Welcome"- which is inspired by American Immigrants and their pursuit of the American Dream. My vocals on this track were inspired by the desire of every being to find “home” and all that encompasses that powerful word. And personally, I drew on the experiences of my immigrant father. As the 1st generation daughter of an immigrant I can deeply relate to the journey of trials and triumphs to find home.

This is a photo of my father with his family in India which was taken directly before he came to the United States in 1971- he continued to visit and help support his family back in New Delhi, but he never looked back. This man- Yudhishter Mohan Bhatnagar (pictured far left) - came to the United States educated in the field of medicine. He worked tirelessly through residencies and internships and overcame many obstacles to become a brilliant obstetrician/gynecologist, endocrinologist, infertility specialist, and surgeon. He fell in love and married my mother (a 2nd generation daughter of Irish immigrants) and together they built a life working and raising a family together. He became a self made man in this land of opportunity. He built a successful and much needed medical practice in a small rural town in Western Pennsylvania. He did not take his opportunities, freedoms and this democracy for granted. He eventually became an American citizen. Over the course of his 40+ year career as an OB/GYN he delivered over 4,000 babies bringing life and legacy into this world. He performed countless surgeries and treatments on many women which saved their lives and changed their lives for the better. And he always provided treatment to his patients even if they could not pay.

I'm extremely proud of my immigrant father, my immigrant relatives and all immigrants who helped build this country through hard work and perseverance. I feel immigrants infuse multiculturalism into societies by bringing and honing important trades and talents which support and contribute to the socio- economic system. Cultural ideas, traditions, cuisine, music- add a richness to the fabric of humanity and what I feel is deeply the American culture. I am proud to call myself a multi-cultural descendant of immigrants.

There is much polarization in the world currently. At this point in humanity, societal change seems to come at a heavy price and with it's share of growing pains. Individuals with integrity are just that no matter where they are born. I always endeavor to see both sides of the coin with social issues with empathy and understanding for people’s beliefs, and to also stand strong to my own. In America, I feel that I've had the freedom and the opportunity to choose many paths of fulfillment, passion, and purpose in both my professional and personal life, and I believe this is fundamentally the credo of the American Dream.

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My Story

I'm honored and inspired to be one (of the two) main producers of Deepak Chopra’s new album & book “HOME: Where Everyone Is Welcome.” It has been a pleasure working with the production team co-led by Jeff Oster, recording and listening to track mixes, and working with guest artists.

I was adopted by the Ackerman family when I was six days old and this was the only family I knew. I was lucky. My father was an English professor at Stanford. In 1959, when I was 10 years old, we traveled to Germany and to the small town of Berneburg in the state of Hesse within sight of Russian-controlled East Germany. It was rumored my father's family came from there.

We drove into the town and came along side of a huge wooden hay wagon being towed by two huge horses. My father asked the man holding the reins if there were any Ackerman's in town. The man laughed so hard the horses were startled. "I'm an Ackerman, the mayor's an Ackerman, the doctor's an Ackerman" he said through his laughter. It was somehow magical to me… Now I had more than a name, now I shared my father's family… A family who was overjoyed to meet a descendant of people they knew and loved. I too had come home. My father had made good in the new country, and the family was proud of him. And I belonged as a part of it.

Mine is but one of the stories that make up these United States of America. For me, it is the acceptance and openness to all, whether or not we know our ancestors, an acknowledgment that everyone that chooses to do so can add something good to our country.

My involvement in "HOME - Where Everyone is Welcome" is a way to contribute something positive and hopefully enrich our cultural conversation. We are, after all, at home in a nation of immigrants.

I have enjoyed helping to present the music and poetry of Deepak, Kabir Sehgal, and Paul Avgerinos, and thank everyone, including all of the fine musicians on this project for making this all possible. I am tagging many of you with whom I've had the pleasure of working with and learning from. I think of my friends as family, which means you!

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My Story

My ancestors came seeking freedom from religious persecution in England during the reign of King Charles II. Originally Quakers, they were pacifists, worshipping freely and opposing all forms of violence including war and slavery. Some were compelled to pick up arms when the threat to their newfound liberty became intolerable. Two individuals in particular, two generations apart, served our country in inspiring ways. My great, great, grandfather (upper left) was John Marshall Harlan who raised a militia in Kentucky during the Civil War and became a Colonel fighting for the Union Army. He went on to serve as an Associate Justice of United States Supreme Court from 1877-1911. He is most famously known for his “lone dissent” in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson in which he stated, “…Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law…” Most certainly a man of his times, he exemplifies to me, what it means to be an American; independent, courageous, passionate, principled, and vigorous in his critical thinking. At a time of great civil unrest, he held true to his convictions. He is considered one of the most important and influential justices in the history of American Jurisprudence.

The photo on the right is of my grandfather, John Marshall Harlan II who attended Princeton University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. During WWII, he volunteered and served as a Colonel in the Army Air Force. After the war, he practiced as a corporate lawyer and litigator and went on to serve as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1955-1971. He authored many important opinions for the Court involving The Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, Incorporation, The First Amendment, Criminal Procedure and Voting Rights. He was an exceptional person in all respects: kind, compassionate, and well-liked by all who knew him. A very good tennis player and golfer, he loved to joke around with me. He would ask, “What is your name?” I’d answer, “My name is Kate!” And, he’d say, “Well, I’m going to call you Kitten.”

My parents, Frank and Eve (Harlan) Dillingham were the most gracious and giving people I have ever known. Eve was a pianist and mother of five children, Frank, a piano technician and mechanical genius. Inspired by his son-in-law’s skill, my grandfather, known to us as "Gumpy" would say, “Someday, I am going to break everything in the house, put it in a pile on the floor, and watch Frank put it all back together again.” My parents encouraged my love for music and art and infused it with a wonderful sense of humor. I greatly admire the many accomplishments and contributions members of my family made for the betterment of our society and I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to continue their legacy through my study and performance of music. Mine is a journey filled with many trials, travails, and triumphs. What an honor it is to be featured on this album that celebrates our heritage, our freedom, and independence from tyranny. Our work is never done!

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My Story

It’s an honor to be featured in Deepak Chopra's new album & book: Home | Where Everyone is Welcome. I perform the ud on the track "Candle" inspired by Kahlil Gibran, who moved to America from the Middle East and, is a widely celebrated poet and scholar. Like Kahlil Gibran I came to the US from the Middle East, more specifically Turkey. I arrived in Boston in the late August of 1993 – at the time I was 18 years old – to study at Berklee College of Music.

Both of my parents were Turkish Cypriots who moved to Bursa, Turkey in 1975. My mother was a respected Western classical piano teacher and my father was a medical doctor who was a huge admirer of opera and Western choral music. While both of my parents were ethnically Turkish since they grew up on the island of Cyprus under the British, their cultural upbringing was more Western when compared to a lot of their colleagues in Bursa at the time. As a result, I was brought up as a secular Muslim, and in our house Western musics were far more admired than any kind of Turkish music. As a result, eventually, I came to play in progressive Rock bands as a teenager, which led to discovering Jazz and wanting to go and study at Berklee.

When I arrived in Boston I was a talented pianist who wanted to become a respected composer. During the past 24 years I certainly chased that dream relentlessly but, little did I know that there was going to be a major discovery in my life 7 years after I arrived in the US: I actually discovered Turkish music in the US! Shortly after entering 2000, completely by accident, I came to discover the beauty of the music and traditions of where I come from… I suppose as I entered the United States, I willingly left my Turkish cultural identity behind and immersed myself in Jazz but, I later found myself slowly ‘traveling’ back home; going back to my origins in a mosaic process of forging a more complete version of myself. I know for a fact that many immigrants go through a similar process.

In the end, had I stayed back in Turkey I would most likely have never been able to reconstruct my identity as I did between 2001-2011 here in the US. The distance and the freedom to explore were what enabled this transformation. Today, I am proud to call myself a Turkish-American man.
Finally, here is a picture (four years after my arrival in Boston) from my Berklee graduation with my mother. My mother always believed in me and, for that I can never thank her enough

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My Story

I'm extremely honored to be featured on Deepak Chopra's new album & book: HOME | Where Everyone is Welcome. I perform the clarinet on the track "Father" inspired by Deepak's father Krishan Chopra who was a medical doctor. And whose son became a preeminent physician in the United States.

HOME highlights the important point that we are ALL immigrants living together in America, which is so relevant to what's happening these days.

On April 9, 1978, my mother and father, with their five young kids, departed Seoul, Korea, and arrived at Chicago's O'Hare airport. My mother studied Korean literature in college and my father majored in economics. My father's real passion was playing the clarinet, but being a musician was an unrealistic career for boys to pursue during the post-war industrialization period in Korea. During the 70’s when many were immigrating to the U.S., my parents also looked to America to carve out a brighter future for their five children. After settling into the suburbs of Chicago - and working at various factories - my father eventually found time to play his clarinet once more. He taught me to love this wonderful instrument, and I will always cherish my fond childhood memories of listening to my father playing his favorite tune, "Danny Boy”.

I'm so grateful to be part of this project and thank you for allowing me to share a bit of my story.

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My Story

I'm thrilled to be featured on Deepak Chopra's album "Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome." I perform on a track entitled "Compass" that is inspired by Nigerian writer (and frequent American visitor) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The song is about how we are complex, and how we as immigrants may have multiple identities.

This picture of my parents and I was taken in Colombia in 1990. I’m a mix of Native American, on my Mom’s side of the family, and Afro Colombian on my Dad’s side. My father Hernando, is a retired singer who used to sing all the music of the Cuban icon Benny More. My lovely mom Miriam was a housewife and passed away 7 years ago.

I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from the Universidad del Valle and came to North America to continue my studies in 1999. The 90s was a very difficult time to live in Colombia as there was a lot of violence. Now days I feel very proud to be a part of one of the most prestigious Universities of the Afro Americans, Howard University, as an instructor in the World Languages department. I am also currently enrolled at Howard in a Ph.D. program for a Doctorate in Philosophy in African Studies.

Immigrants are important because they contribute to the development of the country. A country that has been built by immigrants needs those people with diverse backgrounds to foster its progress and evolution.

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My Story

I am elated and very proud to share that I am part of the production team for Deepak Chopra's new album & book, Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome.

The lovely lady with the glasses is Elsie Gertrude Weimann Tabbert. She came to America in 1925 from Fischhausen, Prussia, which is now Germany. She married my great grandfather Fred, they had two sons and a daughter on a farm in the county 15 miles south of Eckelson, North Dakota.
My great grandparents Laura Cazzerra Sabbatino and Anthony Sabbatino were married in April of 1927. Laura came to America to meet her sister in Lawrence, Massachusetts from Presenzano, Italy in 1925 when she was 25 years old. Anthony was brought to America by his adopted parents when he was two years old after his birth parents were eventually married and wanted him back. He enlisted in the 306th Field Artillery, part of the American Expeditionary Forces, to fight in World War I on March 28, 1918 while they were living in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

My great-great-great grandfather Heinrich Menke was born in 1838 and settled in Sheboyan, Wisconsin from Fitzusan, Oldenberg, Germany in 1851. He married Orilla Clarke in 1857, she is the small lady in black. My German-born great-great grandfather Friedrich Tabbert and Mary Menke Tabbert, Heinrich's daughter and son in law are also pictured.

The message of this beautiful project speaks to me very personally. My family had a place to come to. They were happy here and enjoyed long, wonderful lives with large families. Laura and Anthony have six children, one of whom lives with me and is my favorite member of the family.

Immigrants are the heart and soul of this country. Immigrants comprise our nation. I am very proud to be a descendant of immigrants.

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My Story

I’m thrilled and inspired to be one (of the two) main producers of Deepak Chopra’s new book & album “HOME: Where Everyone Is Welcome.” It is also an honor to perform the flugelhorn on several tracks including "Queen" inspired Celia Cruz, who I have long admired.

Here is a picture of my grandfather Abraham Oster who came to the United States from Lithuania and sold apples to survive during the Great Depression, then went on to sell cars in his hometown of Pawtucket Rhode Island. He and my grandmother raised two sons, one who became the Mayor of neighboring Lincoln, RI. I didn’t have a chance to meet my grandfather, but his work ethic, persistence, and resilience inspire me to this day.

The last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about our country. And I keep thinking about my grandfather Abraham and what he would think about what's going on with our country.
And I keep thinking about what country I’m going to leave behind for my children and their children.

The United States of America. What unites us? What do we have in common? What makes America great, and ALWAYS will? For me, it is the acceptance and openness to all, an acknowledgment that everyone that chooses to do so can add something good to our country. America, where everyone is welcome. This openness is what has made us great, and makes us great right now.

My involvement in "HOME - Where Everyone is Welcome" is a way to contribute something positive and hopefully enrich our cultural conversation. In helping to present the music and poetry of Deepak, Kabir Sehgal, and Paul Avgerinos, we’re creating in the spirit of another Abraham - Abraham Lincoln who said "with malice toward none and charity for all." It has been a pleasure working with the production team, recording and mixing tracks, and working with guest artists. THANK YOU to the entire team for your hard work and faith.

Warmly,
Jeff Oster

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My Story

I'm delighted to share that I am part of the production team for Deepak Chopra's new album & book: Home | Where Everyone Is Welcome. Put simply, Deepak Chopra is a gift to be shared.

This is a project about Immigration which encourages communal learning and growth through music and sharing personal immigration stories to lend to the human tapestry. I would like to share my own.
My parents’ migration to England was filled with promise. My father would study Economics and later develop local and international businesses. His phrase was Be Cosmopolitan (long before the magazine). My mother would study as a nurse before delivering the long line of wailing babies as a midwife and served later as a Matron for seniors. Taking care of business, life at its inception and its end, must have left an impression on them and the four children they would both nurture. For England is a country crafted in a polite class system. Only back then, when they arrived, it was more in your face. On seeking accommodation they were greeted by the sign: No Irish, No Dogs, No Coloreds- in that order. As immigrants, with so much to offer and willingness to build a better place, there must have been disappointments. Yet my parents had deep affection for Britain, and perhaps even more importantly, perseverance was their personal code. Their marriage was quite a love story that has survived the transition of my father. Like music, the depths of hardships and rise above struggles created a love not perfect, but supreme.

As a result of all this, I saw both extremes of life and the pretender of success. However it wasn't until the passing of my father that, for me, music came alive. I learned from my mother of my father’s deep love for Jazz, Opera, Afrobeat, Highlife and all forms of music, which he put aside when he became a father. I learnt of his childhood friendship with Fela. He, like my maternal grandfather could chart music. I see my own migration to America as connected to that West Side East Side Story. I should mention that my siblings got a head start due to their natural abilities with piano, saxophone, guitar and languages, in addition to their graduate professions. I was the late bloomer. As a student of music, I see music as more than sound. It has a depth of energetic messages and meaning which connects the universe in such a cosmopolitan way. When we hear a beautiful song, it acts like a compass and we can remember where home is. Home is home. It's where we feel most welcome. We have a seat at the table. We innately feel when are welcome, and know when we are unwelcome. There is an immense Cosmopolitan potential to merge together like the poetic movement of flocking birds to recreate a better dream. Like America, Music always asks for more. Let's celebrate each other and this very human project to make a better home out of spiritual and physical immigration.

For Immigration gives birth to Innovation.

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My Story

I came to America from Havana, Cuba in 1996 looking for the opportunity to better myself and to give back to the community. That's why I love being a music producer. Music is the universal language, and it also has healing powers. As artists, I feel it’s our responsibility to evoke feelings and emotions and to raise social awareness.

Here is a #TBT picture of me as a newborn. On the left is my father who died in 1970 in Cuba. He was an air force pilot and believed in the principles of freedom, social justice, and independence. On the right is my mother, who moved to the US and established herself in this country thanks to her brightness and her very strong work ethic. I am very proud of my heritage because I come from a humble and loving family. I'm also proud of my husband, Oscar Autie, who shares my values: peace, freedom, equality, and love for everyone!

XOXO
Kenya Autie

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My Story

I came to America from Cuba in 1992 to have more opportunities for advancement. My ancestors were farmers and owned many acres of land until the revolution started and Castro confiscated everything, so they moved to Havana, where I was born.

Here is a picture of my grandparents on my father's side. On my mother’s side, all my cousins played music as a hobby. I used to play with them since I was about six years old. When we got together, there was only one guitar, so I had to learn to play the guitar as a right-handed, even though I am left-handed. Later on, at the National School of Arts in Havana, I continued playing right-handed and still do today.

I have been working as an Engineer since my early 20’s. Engineering is a passion for me. I love music and being an Engineer allows me to be part of many interesting and meaningful music projects, such as Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome - even a Cuban immigrant like me!

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My Story

My father, Raghbir, was born in Moradabad, India. Wanting to receive a better education and not having the means, my mother sold her jewelry to pay his airfare to the West when he was seventeen (the original plan was to travel by boat, but the Suez Canal was blockaded at the time). When my father arrived at Palam Airport, in New Delhi, his suitcase was eighteen pounds overweight. He couldn’t afford to pay the fee for the extra weight, so he went into the airport bathroom and put on eighteen pounds of clothes! When the plane stopped for refueling and cleaning in Khartoum, Sudan, where it was 118 degrees Fahrenheit, all the passengers were ordered off the plane. The flight attendant advised my father that he could take off the extra clothes, and he quickly obliged. He finally arrived in Birmingham, England, and worked as a machinist at a Goodyear tire factory. His supervisor instructed him to ensure that no manufacturing scraps remained on the floor after his shift, so my father organized his fellow workers into a team that kept the factory clean. They earned the factory’s “good housekeeping award,” a recognition that he treasures to this day.

My father saved his money and bought a ticket aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth, which was headed to New York City, where he arrived in 1960. From there he took a Greyhound bus to Birmingham, Alabama, to enroll at the institution that became Auburn University. He showed up as a brown man with a funny accent in the segregated South. Yet Americans made him feel welcome, and he was honored to have a new home. He proudly became an American citizen in the early 1970s. He traveled back to India to marry his wife, Surishtha, and they returned to the United States to start a new life. He began working at a small engineering company, and he eventually became its CEO, turning the firm into an international organization with sixty offices in the United States and additional offices in nineteen countries. He later served as the commissioner of industry, trade, and tourism for the state of Georgia. My mother Surishtha began her career by teaching psychology at a community college and later at a large university in Atlanta. She now writes children’s books about Indian culture. She became a US citizen in the early 1990s. I know that America gave my parents the opportunity of a lifetime as well as new lives. They are proud Americans and so am I.

Warmly,
Kabir Sehgal

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My Story

I have to tell you a secret: my father was an illegal immigrant!

His story and resilience is why I’m proud to be a part of “Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome,” a book of poems and an album of music which celebrates American immigrants, with the spirit of inclusion, welcoming, and oneness. It is a privilege working with my co-creators Deepak Chopra and Kabir Sehgal, as well as our two producers (which includes Jeff Oster), engineering team, and talented guest artists.

My dear father, Constantinos Avgerinos, grew up on the Greek island of Kefalonia, in the Ionian Sea between Greece and Italy. Born in 1914, the oldest son in a large family of eight children, he was nicknamed “Costas.” Tradition had him working full time by the age of 13 helping to care for his sisters and younger brother, a responsibility he carried throughout his long life.

The rugged landscape and breathtaking beauty informed his character and discipline, while the stories of Homer’s Odyssey and its hero king Ulysses would inspire his dreams and aspirations. Kefalonia is the island kingdom that Ulysses rules and returns to after his epic adventures, and my father’s village of Valeriano is not far from Ithaca, the legendary home of that man skilled in all ways of contending.

With a great aptitude and passion for mechanical engineering, Costas made his way to Athens at the age of 16 where he worked days as a mechanic and attended school at night. In 1938 he received his diploma in mechanical engineering and was accepted to work and study further in Sunderland, England. At 25, he was hired to work on the freighter Nickolas D.L. that was voyaging to Portland, Oregon.

As fate would have it, my father developed Appendicitis as the vessel was passing through the Panama Canal. Fearing that he would lose his new engineer, the captain refused to let Costas receive medical attention on land. Fortunately, my father made it to Portland on September 2, 1939 just as World War II was starting. He jumped ship and fled to the protection of his sister who lived in Oakland CA where my father received the medical attention that he needed. Amazingly, a German submarine sank the freighter Nickolas D.L. on its way back to London!

In his new found home, Costas began working, learning English and earning the US versions of his Mechanical and Civil Engineering degrees while continuing to support his family back in Greece. He said that he was most amazed by the huge buildings and cities of the U.S. and by how nicely the people treated him.

America’s involvement in WW II was fast approaching and so my father joined the burgeoning defense industries in Rhode Island and Connecticut. He helped to defeat the fascist terrors of Hitler and Tojo.

Outside a movie theater in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, he met my mother Juliana Peripoli. My mother’s family had themselves fled Northern Italy before World War I, just one generation earlier.

My father later went on to run several successful businesses employing dozens of Americans and securing multiple engineering patents.

My existence is a testament of gratitude to the welcoming spirit of this great country, the United States of America.

Sincerely,
Paul Avgerinos

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My Story

Immigration is deeply personal to me. I was born in New Delhi, India, in 1946 and moved to the United States in July of 1970 to pursue advanced medical training. At the time, the United States was still in the throes of the Vietnam War. The country was experiencing a shortage of doctors, so its hospitals and medical facilities were actively hiring foreign-born physicians. Yet India didn’t want its best and brightest leaving the country, so it prohibited its citizens from taking the test required of foreign doctors by American institutions. To circumvent this prohibition, I traveled to Sri Lanka to take the exam, which I passed. Because India limited the amount of money that could be taken outside the country, I left my homeland with just eight dollars in my pocket.

With the help of an American charitable organization that recruited foreign doctors for regional hospitals, I ended up as an emergency-room intern at Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey, where I worked with every type of patient, including those who had sustained gunshot wounds.

In 1971, my wife Rita and I moved to the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, where I began my residency in endocrinology and internal medicine at the Lahey Clinic. To supplement my income, I also worked in the emergency room of a local medical facility for four dollars an hour. I later worked at the Boston VA hospital, where hours stretched over long days and nights. Despite these difficult circumstances, Rita and I wanted to be in America because it’s a place where people can be free.

When Rita became pregnant, we couldn’t afford to have the baby in Boston, because her pregnancy was deemed a preexisting condition by our insurance company, so she traveled to India, where our baby was delivered, and I remained in the United States where I continued to work long hours to provide resources to my family.

In 1984 I became an American citizen and, with our family, moved back to Boston, where I served as the chief of staff at New England Memorial Hospital. In the mid-1980s, I left that position to blaze my own trail, first as a representative of the Transcendental Meditation movement and later, in 1993, as the founder, with Dr. David Simon, of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Since 1986, I have written more than eighty- five books with numerous New York Times Bestsellers.

I am grateful for America and believe that it isn’t just a country—it’s also an idea. We can’t lose faith in this idea, because then, like a flame, it will flicker and burn out for all of us. People can climb the ladder here and succeed beyond anything they could have imagined, but immigration is what makes this idea sustainable. If we turn against immigrants, we turn against each other and against America itself.

I like to tell people that I am Indian by birth, American by choice and a global resident.

Love,
Deepak Chopra