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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


Growing up, my mother worked long hours as a housekeeper and was rarely home before 8 pm. As the oldest of three, I was expected to take care of my younger sisters. Between her job and my own responsibilities at home, the only one-on-one time I ever got to spend with my mother was when she helped me with my homework. Since she had received the rough equivalent of an elementary school education, grammar homework quickly became something I had to manage on my own. However, my mother has always had a knack for numbers and could help me with math until I was in 8th grade. Because the subject represented an opportunity to spend time with my mother, math quickly became my favorite subject and I excelled in it. Thus began my obsession with STEM fields. (Picture 1: my mom and I when I was a baby. Picture 2: my sisters Luisa [left] and Laura [right], my mother and I at the beach. I'm the kid with missing teeth in the middle.) #BrownGirlsDoingScience #STEM #IGetItFromMyMama #Family #Thankful #MassachusettsInstituteOfTechnology #HarvardMed #NewAmerican

[Continued from last post]
Serving people during their most vulnerable moments, my mother always demonstrated the utmost respect to patients and their families, teaching me how to provide care without being patronizing. Today, I remember the sense of awe and admiration I felt for my mother in those moments. I thought she was magical. After she was done and we were headed home, I would ask her, “Why don’t you just become a nurse ma! You love it so much and you’re so good at it!” to which she would promptly reply, “Mija, I have no opportunities here. Even if I do have papeles (a green card) now I don’t speak the language and I have no time. I have to work. I have you and your sisters to worry about. But it’s okay! Don’t worry. As long as I am healthy enough and have work, I’m happy knowing that you and your sisters are taken care of and have a better chance at getting ahead.” I remember feeling heartbroken for her. My mother’s inability to pursue her passion has taught me to take complete advantage of every opportunity that I am granted and has imprinted on me the added responsibility to work even harder in order to achieve success on behalf of both of us – on behalf of our entire family. Without my family’s sacrifices, I would never have been able to graduate from high school, be the first in my family to attend and graduate college, and have the privilege of attending two of the best schools in the world. I still think about the advice my mother would give me on our drives back home from her patients’ houses, “You know, you and your sisters are very lucky. You have opportunities here. Go out there and chose your future, mija. Don’t let life choose it for you.” The picture above is of me and my mama, taken on the day Harvard Medical School gave me my first white coat. I thank God every day that they gave me such a strong, loving mother. Without her sacrifice, none of this would have been possible.
#Education #Medicine #MDPhD #Mexico #Mama #Opportunity #Thankful #Sacrifice #HarvardMed #MassachusettsInstituteOfTechnology #NewAmerican

[This post is split up into 2 parts. See next picture for the second part]
My mom came to the US at the age of 20, leaving everything and everyone she knew behind in the hopes of providing a better life for her and her family. Being one of the younger children in her family (kid 9 of 11), my mom was able to attend school until the 5th grade, much longer than most of her other siblings, and she truly loved it. At the age of 16, she was offered an opportunity to train as a nurse in a vocational training program in a small neighboring city. “You have to understand. Your grandfather was the head of our family and he was not the type to invest in his children’s education. When I was growing up, school was irrelevant. You needed to grow up quickly so that you could help with the crops and animals.” Despite her family’s reservations, my mother pursued her dream of becoming a nurse. “When I came to the US just a few years later, I knew I was giving up that dream. After all, I was undocumented and didn’t speak English. I wish I could be re-born. In another life, I could have kept going. The things they were teaching us—the anatomy, the physiology, just how the body works! I found that so amazingly interesting!” When my mom arrived in the US, she traded her nurse’s bag for a bucket of cleaning supplies and since then, my mom has been cleaning houses (uncontrolled rheumatoid arthritis and all) to support our family. The picture above is of my mamá working at the age of 21. Though housekeeping became my mother’s main job, word quickly spread that my mother had trained as a nurse and as such, people in our immigrant neighborhood (all of whom did not have health insurance) came to her for help when they were ill. As a young girl, I would watch as she carefully loaded sterile needles with penicilina that my relatives had bought from Tijuana pharmacies, prescribed by doctores who looked like us, talked like us, and explained our ailments in a way nosotros Latinos understood. [Continued on next post]
#Education #Medicine #Mexico #Mama #Opportunity #Thankful #sacrifice #ChildOfImmigrants #HarvardMed #MassachusettsInstituteOfTechnology #NewAmerican

Hello everyone! My name is Azucena (Susy) Ramos and I am a 2014 #PDSoros fellow currently pursuing an M.D. Ph.D. at Harvard and MIT. This week I will be sharing images of my journey as a #NewAmerican. My story begins with one of the most important people in my life, my grandmother, or my wita (short for “abuelita”). My wita was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. Amazingly, even with only a first-grade education and limited mobility in her right arm (a donkey threw her off of its back when she was a child and medical attention was a privilege reserved for those residing in cities, not rural pueblos like our own), she still managed to raise 11 children while also working in crop fields to support her family. The health inequalities she faced in Mexico continued when she immigrated to America and when I was 7, she almost died of pneumonia. Without health insurance, legal immigration status, or a steady income, my family had little choice but to wait and hope for the best. Even to 7-year-old me, this seemed callused and grossly unjust. This early experience is what first drove me to pursue medicine and today I remain committed to the idea of serving our most vulnerable populations. Though I now spend my time thinking about medicine, cell lines, and science at Harvard and MIT, I will never forget all of the lessons in humility that my grandmother taught me. I can only hope that this helps me become a better doctor and scientist, and that in the future, I have the opportunity to help narrow the health inequity chasm that almost prematurely took my wita from us. (Pictured above, from left to right: my abuelita, me, and my abuelito)
#Family #Mexico #Abuelita #Education #Medicine #NewAmerican #HealthInequity #harvardmed #massachusettsinstituteoftechnology

Throughout my life, I’ve lived in six different places – soon to be seven. The concept of home and family constantly changes for me. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to realize that the only constant in my life is my growing curiosity for natural science. People often ask me why I like science or why I’m pursuing graduate school to study it. That’s not an easy question to answer on the spot, but let me attempt to do so here. Simply put, I’m drawn towards science because of its universality. This is the notion that there is some observable phenomenon waiting to be discovered if we are sufficiently cunning. Importantly, what we learn from that discovery is independent of the scientist whom discovered it. People often bring up Einstein as an almost god-like figure in the scientific community. But Einstein the person is hardly the point. Relativity theory would have been formulated by another person if he hadn’t bothered. Sure, it may have been formulated differently using entirely different mathematics, but its predictions would turn out correct, because scientific theories are judged solely on their correspondence to empirical data, and are thus non-unique. Anyone can discover something. In a world cluttered with warring ideologies and noisy politics, it brings me tremendous comfort to know that we are all, in the end, subject to the inescapable laws of thermodynamics.
The photo shown is of the Graduate College in Princeton, which will be my home for the next five years as I continue to pursue scientific research. I’m extremely thankful to the #PDSoros fellowship for supporting this work and introducing me to a wonderful community of New Americans. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my story! – Bernardo Gouveia, 2017 #PDSoros Fellow. #science #education #travel #einstein #discovery

Growing up in America, my family and I always celebrated Thanksgiving, and continued doing so even when we moved back to Brazil. However, when I moved to Berkeley for college the trip all the way to Rio and back for the short Thanksgiving break became unfeasible. Thus the Friendsgiving tradition was born! Every year during my time in Berkeley, my roommate and I hosted a potluck for all of our friends that were staying in town during the break. Many of them had families abroad like myself. These were some of the most fun and memorable times I had in college. Eating copious amounts of food in a janky apartment with great friends is something I will never forget. Immigrants and their children have the unique opportunity to make the culture of their host country a part of their own, and that brings with it incredible experiences. In my case, one thing is certain; I learned how to cook a mean turkey! – Bernardo Gouveia, 2017 #PDSoros Fellow

I have always enjoyed teaching. It’s a very rewarding experience to be able to successfully impart knowledge onto someone else in a way that’s engaging and fun for them. The top photo was taken when I was attending high school at the Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro. We had a program called Rocinha After School Activities (RASA) where teens from the neighboring Rocinha favela could come take free English classes taught by us students twice a week. It was a great way to get to know the Rocinha community while also giving them a valuable resource that they would have not otherwise had access to. The image shows a typical classroom exercise that I facilitated. The bottom photo was taken when I was at the University of California, Berkeley. Through Berkeley Engineers and Mentors (BEAM), I taught hands-on science and engineering lessons once a week at either an elementary or middle school in the Bay Area. We designed these lessons to be fun and to spark curiosity about science in our students. The image shows a group experiment meant to illustrate the wacky response of a certain non-Newtonian fluid to different acoustic frequencies. The opportunity to continue teaching science is a large part of why I chose to pursue graduate school. – Bernardo Gouveia, 2017 #PDSoros Fellow. #education #teaching #student #teacher #NewAmerican

This image shows me giving what was probably a corny valedictorian address at the graduation proceedings of Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro. I had spent my final two years of high school in Rio completing the International Baccalaureate program, the difficulty of which many of my fellow immigrants whom attended international schools can attest too. It was an adventure filled with long science experiments, endless literature papers, and a mathematics course that one could easily mistake for Defense against the Dark Arts. On top of that, I was a competitive swimmer for the Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, which was the most physically demanding experience of my life. All of this, however grueling, prepared me extremely well for the even crazier adventures (and misadventures) I would come to know at the University of California, Berkeley. Throughout the toughest times in my life so far, I am always reminded of the words my old swim coach, Nandao, used to say: “learn to take strength from where there is none.” – Bernardo Gouveia, 2017 #PDSoros Fellow

This photo is of me and my sister during one of our annual visits to Rio de Janeiro. If you couldn’t tell, I’m attempting to elegantly imitate the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, which can be seen in the background of this photo atop Corcovado Mountain. Also seen in the background, of course, is the vibrant city of Rio where I spent a significant portion of my childhood. Rio is a unique city that manages to interweave natural beauty with urban modernity. I have fond memories of riding my bike around Lagoa to get to swim practice and going to Ipanema or Copacabana, two of the most beautiful urban beaches in the world. Of course, the city is not without its problems, and after just recently hosting the World Cup and the Olympics, its messy politics have made it into the global public’s eye. Visiting Rio is an entirely different experience from living in it, as was made apparent to me when I moved there for high school. I faced many challenges, both cultural and personal, but I emerged a better person because of them. The experience taught me the importance of getting out of your comfort zone, which I consider to be the most valuable lesson I have ever learned. – Bernardo Gouveia, 2017 #PDSoros Fellow #Brazil #Rio #travel #cities #immigrant #NewAmerican

This photo is one that spans four generations: my great grandmother, my mother, and myself. It was taken in my great grandmother’s apartment in Botafogo, a neighborhood within the larger city of Rio de Janeiro. Every summer, my family and I would visit Rio to stay with our relatives, all of whom lived there since our family was the first to ever emigrate from Brazil.
My great grandmother was a person I truly admired. She lived to be a whopping 98 years of age, sadly passing away last year. How did she manage to live that long? By drinking beer and eating chocolate every day of her life. Go figure. It’s crazy to think that in her lifetime she was witness to both World Wars, and most importantly for a Brazilian, every single World Cup. Since both my parents were always working, she would come visit us in America every year for six months at a time to help them raise me and my sister. She cooked for us, helped with many of the house chores, and taught me a fair bit of the Portuguese I know today. She worked as a teacher for most of her professional life, and that training reflected in the calm and collected way she always handled the problems that naturally occur when a working family raises two kids. She was a wonderfully friendly person with a kind spirit, and I would not be the person I am today if it were not for her. – Bernardo Gouveia, 2017 #PDSoros Fellow

Hello all! My name is Bernardo Gouveia, and I’m a 2017 #PDSoros fellow. Throughout this week I’ll be sharing images that detail my experience as the son of Brazilian immigrants and beyond. Hope you enjoy!
This first image is of my parents and yours truly. If you couldn’t tell, I’m the smaller human rocking the onesie. My parents moved from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Golden, Colorado when they were still in their twenties. Both were coming to America in pursuit of an advanced education. They certainly didn’t come with the intentions of having a baby right away, but there I was at my mother’s graduation for her Masters Degree in Architecture. Such is life. While in Golden, we lived in the graduate family housing offered by the Colorado School of Mines, where my dad was pursuing his PhD in Geophysics. It was a beautiful town, bordered everywhere by the Rocky Mountains, a scenery in stark contrast to the urban beaches my parents grew up next to. My parents’ story is certainly one of resilience, as many #immigrant stories are. To come to an unfamiliar place in the hopes of something better, however risky. They have imparted on me the importance of #education and being able to adapt to new surroundings. As I begin graduate school this fall, just like they did all those years ago, I will always view their story as a guiding light. Well, minus the baby – definitely not ready for that yet! – Bernardo Gouveia, 2017 #PDSoros Fellow // #NewAmericans #BrazilianAmerican #Brazil #gradschool #Brazilian #education #parents

In this photo, I am standing in front of Fine Hall, the building that houses the Princeton University Mathematics Department. The building was named after Henry Burchard Fine, a mathematician who played an important role in the early development of Princeton's mathematics program by encouraging many talented American and European mathematicians to join the faculty during his tenure as department chairman from 1904 to 1928. As a result of Fine's efforts, Princeton's mathematics department had become a powerhouse by the 1930s, when the faculty consisted of such stalwarts as Lefschetz, von Neumann, Wigner, and Steenrod. An entirely different Fine Hall from the one pictured was constructed in 1931, when the department was quite a ways smaller than it is today; in addition to housing the mathematics department, the old Fine Hall also served as a home for Einstein, Weyl, and other faculty members of the Institute for Advanced Study. The current Fine Hall was built in 1968 to accommodate an increasing population of professors and graduate students, and the old building was renamed as Jones Hall. The tower of the new hall is 13 stories high, and at ~183 feet, it is the tallest building on the Princeton University campus.

I am very excited to begin my pursuit of a Ph.D. in mathematics at Princeton in just under two weeks' time! As a first-year, my office will be somewhere in the basement, but if fortune is on my side, I might one day get bumped up to a higher floor, whence I will be able to enjoy the beautiful of view of Princeton and the surrounding countryside while I work.

I'm very grateful to have had this unique opportunity to share my story as a child of Indian immigrants on Instagram. Many thanks are due to the #PDSoros Fellowship for supporting my graduate work; it is indeed a great privilege to be a member of this community of passionate, thoughtful, and accomplished new Americans. I'm now handing things over to 2017 #PDSoros Fellow Bernardo Gouveia. -
Ashvin Swaminathan, 2017 #PDSoros Fellow

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