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Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships  Every week a different Fellow takes over our IG account to share their New American story. #immigrants #NewAmericans #immigrantkid


Yakir Reshef here. I'm a 2016 PD Soros Fellow looking forward to sharing with you all this week. This photo is of me (right) and my older brother (left), circa 1989. It was taken in Mevaseret, Israel, where we were born.

"A not so lonely walk" - In sharing anecdotes about immigration and its hardship, it is often too easy to assume that the journey was always strenuous and lonely. The truth is that there were in fact very low moments - but in-between them were high ones too. High moments where strangers assisted with momentary help, and when barely made friends stepped up and volunteered their home and their food, where teachers stayed after school on their own dime to assist with my assignments, where parents of friends pooled money together to pay my band fees so that I could afford to stay in the program. These and countless of other moments like these can never be forgotten and were the catalyst to all I am today. Thank you to all who have contributed to my life by simply being there - Friends, teachers, mentors, colleagues, role models, and my family. Thank you to the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans for your continued support and for bringing awareness to all the positive contributions made by immigrants to this great country. Thank you for representing us as an equal and necessary part of society, your work and support have proven invaluable to my professional development and I am forever grateful for your continued support. "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL" - handing the Instagram account over to 2015 Fellow Yakir Reshef! Thanks - Joseph Gumaraes, 2017 #PDSoros Fellow / #iamanimmigrant #immigrad #immigration #family #friends #kindnessofstrangers #USA #America

The moon - At what point does the foreign become familiar? does an unknown dialect become distinguishable and later understood? do we embrace a new culture, and its people? Any immigrant will likely say that their first steps in America can just the same be compared to Neal Armstrong's first steps on the moon - foreign, scary, sterile and lonely. At first, the unknown is exciting and terrifying at the same time, and for a short while we really do feel like we are alien. The law declares all undocumented immigrants as aliens, but the feeling does go away much before any legalizing process has concluded. With time we begin to make new friends, learn enough of the new language to share challenging but meaningful conversations, and to build a home. BEFORE WE KNOW IT, WE ARE AMERICANS - not in any legal sense of the word, but in our hearts and in our spirit. Long before I was granted American citizenship I identified myself as an American - even as a young child I was able to sense the change in my family's lifestyle and happiness as a result of America's unwavering generosity to all whom inhabit it. I am now 28 and have lived in America since 1998, this is the place where I have made lifelong friends, this is the place where I saw my family become one, this is the place where I learned to be a man, this is the place where I studied, this is the place where I met and later became engaged to the love of my life Nicole Kukieza - THIS IS THE PLACE I CALL HOME. - Joseph Guimaraes, 2017 #PDSoros Fellow / #iamanimmigrant #home #immigrant #immigration #family #America #citizenship

Life's "not so little" bumps...
Immigrant or not, life is always filled with trials and tribulations. These past couple of years have been filled with welcomed triumphs - but they weren't by chance. Every challenge that I've faced throughout my life has been viewed through - as Carol Dweck puts it, a growth mindset point of view. Failures are nothing more than a snapshot in time, they are NOT a determinant of one's future potential. Upon landing in the United States back in 1998 I was viewed as the son of poor immigrant parents, by all accounts my potential was questioned and tried. My father worked at Papa Johns Pizza as a delivery man (a job he still holds today) and my mom worked at a drapery store - what could I possibly amount to? My parents did in fact work these blue collar jobs, but they were exactly that - just jobs. At home my parents valued education and respect and taught me that even while earning minimum wage that we could still have a beautiful home and a healthy family. Through their example I was able to overcome my own challenges and ultimately be admitted into @Yale University. Pretty cool right! ... flashback six years and you would have found me working full time at a slightly above minimum wage job after having dropped out of college. Life happens, time happens - there is nothing wrong with failure - welcome it! As it is only through momentary discomfort that we learn our true strengths. - Joseph Guimaraes, 2017 #PDSoros Fellow #immigrants #immigrad #NewAmericans #Brazil #brazilianamerican #failure #work #jobs #AmericanDream #lifelessons #education #success

Why music? - One of my fondest memories growing up in Brazil was that of my grandmother and I listening to classical in her living room on her wooden rocking chair. She would say "close your eyes, it's almost as if we are there" - from a young age classical music was more than an acoustic phenomenon, it was a group activity. Whether it was my grandmother and I in her living room or a multitude of people dancing to it during the infamous Brazilian carnaval, through the presence of music people always seemed to be sharing something beyond the confines of spoken dialogue. Music was communication that went much further into the human condition - emotion. Naturally, with my limited ability to speak English I searched out for other means of communication. At first I joined chorus, figuring that even if I didn't know what I was saying I could in the very least read the words from the pages, and a couple of years later band. Immediately upon joining these arts organizations I began to communicate - ALL people yearn to communicate as much as we require food and water. American, Brazilian, Ethiopian, Chinese ... we all have a story to share. I dare you to listen. - Joseph Guimaraes, 2017 Fellow #music #Brazil #classicalmusic #language

Home sick -
The Pacific Music Festival orchestra is concertizing and touring throughout Japan for one month. I've been here for just over two weeks and I'm honestly ready to come home - America. The new language, cultural expectations, traditions, cultural customs, food... the list goes on and on is really a bit of a sensory overload. In feeling this, I can only imagine the overbearing feeling new immigrants must feel upon entering America, or any other new country for the first few years. I was only nine years old when my family immigrated into the United States and this made my own assimilation into "the new" quite smooth, or in the very least smooth enough for me to not recall much of it. My parents each obtained two jobs just a few days after landing in South Florida and without any cultural or linguistic familiarity they began to "make things work". How!? Here in Japan, I find myself randomly pointing at menu items just to get dinner. I can't even began to imagine what it must have been like for them to cope with all of this unknown and have to make it work, to not have the ability to fail because this is already plan B. I would like to thank not only my family, but also the families of countless others that have made it work because there just wasn't another option - your work, strength, determination and bravery is an integral part of the American fabric. WE ARE ONE PEOPLE. - Joseph A. Guimaraes, 2016 #PDSoros Fellow #immigrant #immigration #NewAmericans #travel #homesick #iamanimmigrant

This picture was taken at my grandmother's house in Recife, Brazil likely a few years before my family immigrated to the United States. This picture means a lot to me and it is a constant reminder of the sacrifices that my parents made in order to ensure that my sister and I were always blissfully unaware of the difficult reality of our situation. Both of parents worked full-time jobs and even so relied heavily on assistance from my grandmother and grandfather. Social classes in Brazil are especially difficult to shatter - the rich stay rich or fall, and the poor stay poor. What was America to us? without being cliché, America was hope. America was our chance to live free from constraints and imposed limitations. As a musician I am fortunate enough to travel quite often - and America is still viewed by many in the same way we first saw it back in 1998. It is important to always remember this, as a new immigrant, a natural born America citizen or a naturalized citizen - we are all drinking from the same fountain of opportunity. Look past someone's differences and embrace what we have in common - our perpetual pursuit of happiness. - Joseph Guimaraes (2016 Fellow)

Hello! This is 2017 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Joseph Guimaraes and I'm taking over the #PDSoros Instagram account this week. I'm an immigrant from Brazil and I'm studying Tuba Performance at Yale. I'm writing to you from Sapporo, Japan where I have been performing with the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra for the last two weeks. It is not uncommon for the tuba parts in large symphonic repertoire to be quite sparse - play a note here and there with a lot of time off in-between. During one of these rehearsals, I began to think of a theme for my weeklong takeover of the Paul and Daisy Soros Instagram account. Harmony - the picture you see is comprised of myself on tuba; a Brazilian, a Chinese, a Dutch, an American and a Dane - No, this is not the start of a joke. Upon arriving in Sapporo, musicians from all around the world sat together in a room and listened. Yes, we all played the music that was on the page, but more than that we listened. At first, there was a multitude of sounds, interpretations, articulation and other subtleties - each beautiful in its own right. It wasn't before long, that through listening, we all placed our egos aside and began to harmonize as one. The realization of a common goal and the maturity to be malleable allows for even the most apparently dissimilar ensembles to create the most unimaginably beautiful music - harmony.

I feel very privileged in having received the Stanford Social Innovation Fellowship from the Stanford Center of Social Innovation. This will support my work in building out my organization, Impact Experience (www.impact-experience.com). The goal of Impact Experience is to build bridges between investors, companies, innovators and marginalized communities. In addition I will be given the support of Stanford mentors and facilities over the coming year. This photo shows the current dean of Stanford Business School, Jon Levin and former Dean Arjay Miller and one of my wonderful classmates. Thank you Stanford and thank you PD Soros! Now over to 2017 Fellow Joseph Guimaraes. - Jenna Nicholas, 2016 #PDSoros Fellow

My graduation day from Stanford Business School was a very special occasion. My two years at graduate school would not have been possible without the generous support of the PD Soros Foundation. The Stanford Business School motto is “Change lives, Change organizations, Change the world”. This is very much in line with my own aspirations in life. One of the elements I appreciated most about my experience at Stanford was the emphasis on interpersonal skills and development, tools I hope to carry with me for life. - Jenna Nicholas, 2016 #PDSoros Fellow cc @stanfordbusiness

This photo is of my two roommates and I at Stanford Business School during our last year. Having attended Stanford University for both my undergraduate and graduate studies, I feel blessed to have developed lifelong friendships with some exceptional human beings. I am sure in the coming years these relationships will grow ever stronger. - Jenna Nicholas, #PDSoros Fellow

This is a picture of my close family members (from right to left - my mother, myself, my grand mother and my aunt). We rented the Oscar Wilde Room at Magdalen College, Oxford for my twenty first birthday celebration during my studies there. These women have all contributed significantly towards my upbringing and outlook on the world. I am forever grateful for their daily inspiration and guidance. - Jenna Nicholas, 2016 #PDSoros Fellow

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