Dear Stavroula: On Immigration to the U.S.

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Dear Stavroula,

I’m writing to you from Greece. I am a biologist, a mother of two, with a very nice family, but we are suffering like all of Greece. I will not tire you with descriptions. Just imagine the situation of a family when both parents have lost their jobs and for five years have not managed to find another. I simply point out to you that the reality can be more overwhelming than anything you can imagine. If there is a chance that you can in any way help us by offering us a chance for a better future, I can send you CVs and whatever other documents you need.

Iphigenia K.

Dear Iphigenia,

I fully understand what your family is going through and I wish I could help you, but I cannot. What I can do is to inform you with all honesty about the situation here for someone who does not at least have a work visa and to advise you to contact a lawyer for more details.

You write to me that you are a biologist, so to be able to come to America legally, you need to find work in either a school or a research center. I would advise you to look for jobs that interest you and send resumes. But know that they will hardly prefer to hire someone who is not an American citizen or who does not have a green card for two reasons. First, because it is expensive and they have no reason to pay a higher price because they can find workers who already have their papers, unless the candidate has special qualifications and training. Secondly, because the employer has to prove that the prospective employee has qualifications that an American candidate does not have, which is also difficult.

Under no circumstances would I advise you to come to America illegally. Apart from the fact that it is legally dangerous and you are constantly confronted with the fear of expulsion, it is very difficult to survive. The cost of living in America is very high. that in order to rent a one room apartment in New York City that is in good condition and in a safe area, you need around $2,000. Also, medical care is very expensive. For example, treating a simple fracture can cost around $4,000 to $5,000.

America is indeed the country that offers many opportunities to skilled people and those who are determined to work very hard. However, it is no longer easy to come as an immigrant.

Dear Stavroula,

I recently came to New York from California and I work in Manhattan. I’m divorced with a seven-year old son and I have no relatives or friends here. How can I get in touch with Greek community and meet mothers with children my son’s age?

Aikaterini

Dear Aikaterini,

Welcome to New York, it’s a bit difficult at first to adjust, but I’m sure you’ll get used to it quickly and you’ll love this city that is not look like any other.

You do not tell me whether your son is attending a Greek-American or American school. In the first case, I would advise you to volunteer for the PTA (Parent-Teachers’ Association) to help organize events or whatever else they need. That way, you will meet many parents with children your son’s age and help your child adapt more easily.

If your child goes to an American school, I would advise you to enroll him in a Greek afternoon school. There he will meet children of Greek descent and will make friends with whom he will share common experiences through participation in celebrations and events.

Also in New York there are many Greek associations. You can be registered with the association of your region of origin, for example the Peloponnesian or Cretan society, and participate in their events. You will definitely connect with people there.

Finally, you can sign your child up for afterschool activities, for example in sports. There are sports leagues and competitions organized by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and its youth organization known as GOYA.