Author Archives: Elliot Margolies

A 15 Year Old Makes Her Passage By Boat (Vietnam)

              It was a spring afternoon in 1985. I had turned fifteen a few of months earlier and I had just entered the house after a day at high school. Food was on my mind; I’d skipped breakfast as usual. Mom was sitting on the bed in the corner, whispering to a woman I’d ... Read More »

Mayra’s Story – Environmentalist Thanks to Great Grandmother (Mexico)

            Mayra Pelagio was one of the storytellers during Welcome Week in San Jose. Her story begins in a village of 800 in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. Surrounded by nature and unpaved roads, streams and birds, Mayra pursued environmental studies in the US. Currently she works for an immigrant rights agency. Read More »

Vietnamese Refugee Parents and 2nd Generation Identity

              Tracy Nguyen was born and raised in San Jose. Growing up with refugee parents from Vietnam largely defines who she is today: a driven community organizer with a creative, entrepreneurial spirit. Tracy received a B.A. in Media Studies and Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. Tracy’s story grapples with the meaning of the war ... Read More »

An Artist From Iran Takes Her Shot in the US

            Sameh Khalatbari is a San Francisco Bay Area based Artist, born in Tehran Iran in January 1980.  Sameh is a Contemporary Surrealist painter, teacher and entrepreneur.   Her art reveals her life experience and thoughts often incorporating familiar Persian traditional symbols. Here she tells the story of why she decided to stay in the US as ... Read More »

Dr. Lynn Ngo Story As Boat Person and Refugee

        Dr Lynn Ngo is a clinical assistant professor at Stanford medical school, practicing internal medicine. She considers herself a melting pot of Vietnamese, Chinese and American. Her story includes an escape for Vietnam and over a year in a refugee camp before coming to the US. She spoke at a Welcome Week event in September 2019 ... Read More »

Educated & Independent (India)

My mother, Vinaya Kavathekar, grew up in Pune, India. Unlike my own experience growing up in America, her culture and the traditional values of India were instilled into almost every part of her daily life. Yet, she had surprisingly little attachment to them. Vinaya always resented the way she saw women treated where she came from, despising the way she ... Read More »

The Long Reach of Cambodia’s Tragic Killing Fields

Tiffany Tran tells a painful and riveting story with its roots in the “killing fields” of Cambodia under Pol Pot’s rule when millions of people were murdered. Her parents somehow survived the genocide and made it to the US. Tiffany speaks of being embarrassed of them as uneducated immigrants when she was growing up. Not until she grew up and ... Read More »

War Bride from Algeria

My great grandma’s name is Paule Lucienne Zahara Kalfon she is from Algeria her and her family were Sephardic Jews and lived there during the holocaust. I interviewed my dad about my great grandma (she goes by nana, it’s what she wanted to be called after I was born). She is my dad’s grandmother. I interviewed my Dad about her ... Read More »

Safer in the US (Russia)

It was a cold winter night in St Petersburg 2008, Tatiana (name changed) was around 30 and had 2 children, still working her night shift in her pharmacy to earn enough to pay for all the life necessities during the cold Russian winter. She then received a interesting phone call. It came from her father residing in the United States. ... Read More »

A Storied Life (Japan)

Only a few short months off his ninety-first birthday, sitting cross-legged in a recliner that he had owned long before my birth, my grandfather told me, “My life isn’t all that exciting.” My grandfather is a private and simple man. He is the type that would much rather spend an evening watching a baseball game with a hearty homemade dinner ... Read More »

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