NOON AND PATRICIA
RESPONDING WITH THE HEART
When Richard Moore was walking home from primary school in Derry, Ireland, one afternoon, he was caught in the middle of a violent riot. A British soldier’s rubber bullet struck the 10-year-old, and Moore was permanently blinded.
Moore could have grown up angry, resentful, and bitter about the incident in his childhood. It made sense to hate the soldier who blinded him. Instead, Moore forgave him. He tracked down the soldier years later, and the two began a lasting friendship. Moore responded to the violence in his life not with his rational
intellect, but with his human heart.
The IIIC was fortunate to receive a visit from Moore in 2015. He spoke at one of our community sessions about the need to “educate the heart as much as we educate the head.” After the event, one of our students, an Afghani refugee, approached Moore. She shared her story of being shot by the Taliban, and they were able to connect over this common, tragic experience. Another student introduced her daughter, a 6-year-old from the Dominican Republic who, like Richard, is blind. They bonded over their dislike of reading Braille.
Moore’s talk touched so many at the IIIC because his message of compassion resonates with people across all countries and cultures. We should remember, when our brains start to respond with fear or anger, to use our human hearts, instead.
Find more information on Moore’s organization, Children in Crossfire, at http://www.childrenincrossfire.org/
Together for Hope — One Woman’s Story
My boyfriend back in Ireland died by suicide over 15 years ago. In the aftermath of that, I moved to the United States and buried my feelings around his death for many years. When two close friends of mine in Boston also died due to suicide a few years ago, all of the feelings I’d been suppressing came to the surface.
I went to the community meetings following my friends’ deaths and realized that other people had all of the same feelings I had been trying to ignore for the past 15 years. I found support and hope in these meetings and doing the Together for Hope walk last year was an amazing experience.
Suicide is something that people just do not like to talk about. We are left with unanswered questions and yet suicide is never discussed properly – people just make comments like “Why did they have to do that?”
Participating in IIIC’s walk put it out there, got people into discussions, and helped us all to realize that it is often the end result of depression and not our fault. Talking about suicide openly and getting it out there gave me and other people courage to confront suppressed emotions. After all this time; I am finally reaching some closure. Each time I do a walk like Together for Hope, I feel as if a bit of what I’ve been suffering for years, is being lifted out of me.
FINDING A PATH TO CITIZENSHIP
When she was 2, Shauna was diagnosed with severe autism. She cannot speak, read or write in any language, and will act out in rooms full of strangers. When she was 8, Shauna, her sister and their mother left Ireland and came to the U.S. so Shauna could attend a special school for autistic children. Over time, Shauna’s mother and sister became naturalized U.S. citizens, but not Shauna.
The family could not figure out how to get Shauna through the citizenship process, and so they turned to the IIIC for help. The IIIC was able to file Shauna’s citizenship application, and to help the family navigate the process in a way that took into account Shauna’s unique needs. Thanks to the IIIC, Shauna was able to get her fingerprints taken without having to sit in a waiting room, underwent her interview at home – where she was more comfortable – and had the oath ceremony waived. Today, Shauna has joined her mother and sister as a proud U.S. citizen.
BUILDING A FUTURE LEADER
Three years ago, Mark travelled to Boston on the J-1 Irish Work and Travel visa as part of his university course. IIIC was his sponsor, helping him understand the visa process and make the most of his time in the U.S. Mark’s exchange program experience helped him develop personally and professionally. When he got back to Ireland he was determined to graduate and achieve good grades, and he ended up with one of the highest marks in his class.
Once he left university and started looking for a graduate position, Mark’s international work experience helped him stand out from the crowd. Today, Mark is participant in a
prestigious graduate program run by Enterprise Ireland, studying for a Post Graduate Diploma in International Business while also working as a Market Research Analyst.
REUNITING A FAMILY
When Marta’s husband was killed in her native Colombia, she feared for her life and fled to the U.S. While she was able to bring her older son with her, Marta had to leave her younger son Danis with her mother. A few years ago, Marta met and fell in love with Jorge, who is a U.S. citizen. In 2011 Jorge and Marta were married, and they came to the IIIC for help bringing their family together. Marta hadn’t seen Danis in 7 years.
IIIC helped file petitions for both Marta and Danis to become Legal Permanent Residents. Marta’s petition was approved in March 2013, allowing her to make her first trip back to Colombia since she left in 2005. In October 2013, Danis’ green card visa was approved, and he was able to travel to Boston with his mom in January 2014 to meet his new stepfather. Jorge, Marta, and Danis are now all living together in Massachusetts, and Danis was excited to start high school recently.
PURSUING DREAMS THAT WERE ONCE ON HOLD
Marine and Vana (pictured here with their sister, Meghete) are sisters from Aleppo, Syria where they lived with their parents and other siblings. Marine was an economist and Vana was a pharmacist. In 2012, they were forced to flee Syria due to the violence there. They and their family were specifically targeted by a rebel group because of their Armenian heritage and their Christian religion, and many of their friends had already been killed.
A few months after arriving in the U.S., Marine and Vana approached the IIIC for assistance with their immigration case, as it would be extremely dangerous for them to return to Syria. The IIIC prepared their applications for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and within a few months, they had received employment authorization and their TPS applications were granted. Vana and Marine are looking forward to returning to school to be able to pursue the dreams that they lost in Syria.
SPEAKING OF OPPORTUNITY…
On one cool day in November, Mohammed, a former student at the Irish International Immigrant Center, came into the Center with his sister. Mohammed, who is from Morocco, has lived in Boston for almost five years and studied English at the Center in 2010. He remembered his experience studying here so fondly that he recommended our program to his sister, who arrived in Boston just last month.
Mohammed was pleased to share that he is now a student at Bunker Hill Community College, studying to be a Medical Laboratory Technician. He credits his experience studying English to helping him get to where he is today. “When I came here, I didn’t speak English. [My teacher] Diana Crane was really helpful; even though my English wasn’t clear, she gave me advice on what I needed to work on. I remember working on pronunciation, writing, and grammar.”
Mohammed currently works two part-time jobs, in addition to studying. He said that he sees a lot of opportunity and is very positive about the future. He hopes to get a job in his field after graduating in 2016. “I really appreciate the IIIC. I remember speaking with people from other countries. English was our only common language, and Diana encouraged (us to) speak.”
His sister, who learned English in Morocco by watching movies, has similarly high hopes. “If you study hard and work hard, you have more opportunity here.” We at the IIIC share this philosophy, and we’re so glad Mohammed returned several years later to share his good news and introduce his sister to our programs.
CARING FOR STRANGERS AND VISITING HOME
Originally from Ireland, Iris has been living in the United States for the past 13 years. She was the victim of an armed robbery while in the U.S., which led to her receiving a special visa. But with this visa, she would be unable to visit Ireland.
After the robbery, Iris decided that she wanted a job helping people in need, so she went back to school and currently works for Massachusetts General Hospital as a Patient Care Associate in the burn unit. Iris is cares for those in need every day, and in 2013 she assisted victims of the Boston Marathon bombing who suffered from severe burns. She loves her job and her new home, but she misses her family in Ireland.
It has been 12 years since Iris has been able to travel home, and she has missed out on weddings, funerals, births, and other major family events. But in the fall of 2013, IIIC helped Iris file to become a Legal Permanent Resident of the United States, and in February of 2014 she received her green card at last. Iris surprised her family with a trip back to Ireland in May 2014, and while there she began planning her wedding. She is now able to enjoy her life in the U.S. and to see her loved ones back home.