I have a special place in my heart for all immigrants. Anyone who has left their country, by choice or by force, legally or illegally. Because for 5 years, I have been the immigrant. As an American, I am a cool immigrant, but still, my accent never ceases to be a conversation starter. I remember within the first month of my arrival, having a stranger spit in the vicinity of my shoes after I said I was an American. He said he didn't have anything against me, just my president (whatever.) Yet most of the time, I've been welcomed, questioned enthusiastically and helped. And that's not always the case. Being away from home is hard enough without the society and the government making it harder. I'm thinking of the hours I stood in line while pregnant or with a toddler, waiting to get my yearly visa renewed. However, I wasn't at risk for being sent home or anything, like many are today.
A young friend of my recently pointed my attention to the story of an Irish girl named Annie Moore. She was the first immigrant to be registered at Ellis Island, on December 31st, 1891. It was also Annie's fifteenth birthday. She had come with her two little brothers to rejoin their parents who were already settled in New York. There is now a statue of her both at the point of her departure and at her arrival on Ellis Island.
As I prepare for a move to the USA, I imagine a little Irish girl doing the same. What were her 12 days at sea like? I imagine her mothering her brothers, still frightened herself, yet thrilling to the adventure they were living. I imagine her telling them stories of Ireland, stories of their American dream. I love the inspiration of a strong, spunky, young girl following her dreams across the ocean.
What were your dreams as a fifteen year-old? Did you realize them?