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LENOX — Alexandra Tyer’s father did not like dictators. And so they did not like him.Gustavo Avila got jailed by Cuba’s Fidel Castro when Alexandra was 7 years old. He was released several months later, on the condition that he take his family on the first flight out to Panama. That country granted the Cuban family asylum because Alexandra’s mother…
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GREAT BARRINGTON — Andres Huertas didn’t speak any English when his parents moved from Bogota, Colombia, to the Berkshires. It took a drawing of a soccer ball for him to realize that he might be able to communicate in his new country after all. Another 10-year old boy at Undermountain School in Sheffield drew that picture and showed it to Andres as…
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PITTSFIELD — Paulino Aguilar survived an encounter with El Salvador’s notorious death squads in the 1980’s. Aguilar taught high school students in gang-ridden San Salvador until he moved to Pittsfield in 2002. He lived on North Street and started work at 3 in the morning at the former Morningside Bakery on Tyler Street. Read more at http://tinyurl.…
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Tanea Lavalle lives a long way from Moldova. But so do most of her former classmates and friends from this small Eastern European country, landlocked in between Romania and Ukraine.Lavalle estimates “maybe 80 percent” of her classmates and friends have left this former Soviet republic. The ones left behind might just be biding their time until they…
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NORTH ADAMS — Had Paul de Jong’s Holocaust surviving father decided to accept the job offer in New York, this immigrant’s tale would not have been told. Vrin de Jong, a schoolmate of Anne Frank in Amsterdam, survived the murderous Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, where most Dutch Jews did not. On his first trip to the United States, by boat, in …
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Bintou Kanyi told her family in the West African country of The Gambia that she just had some errands to run at the village market. She did not tell them about the airplane ticket to New York.“I ran away,” Kanyi says. “Because if I had told them that I was travelling, there were so many things they could do to stop me.” Kanyi now works as a certifi…
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PITTSFIELD — Veronica Torres Martin had an accent in her own country before she had one in the United States. Torres Martin, now 44, is from Chile, but she was born in Germany and lived in Algeria before her parents felt safe enough to return to what was then Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship. She was 7 years old. “That’s when I got introduc…
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MONTEREY — Sandboarding down the dunes to the pristine beaches, then surfing the ocean waves or fishing or snorkeling in the azure blue waters. Living in Cabo Frio, Brazil, sounds like living in paradise."Read more at http://berkhshireeagle.comThe Berkshire Eagle tarafından oluşturuldu
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GREAT BARRINGTON — Growing up in Leningrad had to be pretty bleak, right? Surely, escaping the Soviet Union for America must have been most Russians’ dream.“No,” says Natalia Smirnova, laughing. “Growing up in the Soviet Union was great. We had a very nice childhood. Now, being an adult, I understand the value of the free day care facilities for ki…
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Read the story: http://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/meet-arsema-abegaz-education-is-a-lifelong-pursuit-for-this-williams-grad,513686Born in Ethiopia, raised in Botswana and steeped in the very different cultures and languages of those disparate African countries, Arsema Abegaz speaks American English without even a trace of an accent. “Being youn…
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PITTSFIELD — They fell in love through their letters; old-fashioned, handwritten envelope-with-stamp snail mail letters. But it took 14 years before the internet sealed the deal.Alan Franco, from Mexico City, and Melissa Schermerhorn, from the Berkshires hilltown of Peru, met in 1994 in the Cozumel tourist resort where he worked. Franco was an ente…
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PITTSFIELD — Ahmed Ismail’s bride, Michela, had tears in her eyes, but not necessarily because of wedding emotions. Tear gas and worse filled the streets of Cairo when they got married.Ismail, from Giza, Egypt, and Michela Tagliapietra, from Lenox, met in 2010 when Michela and her mother toured Egypt’s archaeological treasures. Mom and daughter sta…
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Her colleagues at Housatonic Curtains stopped sewing when the news broke about the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Gloria Escobar-Huertas could sense her co-workers' fear. But she didn’t understand.“At that time I didn’t speak English and nobody around me could explain the situation,” Escobar recalls. “So I didn’t know…
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PITTSFIELD — Paul Saldana would have been a pilot if joining the Ecuadorian Air Force hadn’t been beyond his means.OK, sure, as a boy in Azogues, Ecuador, young Paul’s real dream was to become a midfield star of his country’s most illustrious soccer team: Barcelona.But next to the many hours of fútbol practice and pick-up games — “My happiest child…
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WEST STOCKBRIDGE — As a child in Indonesia, I’in Purwanti was the ringleader of a band of pint-sized private investigators. “My childhood was very adventurous,” Purwanti says. “I wanted to be a detective. I read a lot of detective books so I would tell my friends every Sunday, ‘hey we need to go solve a mystery!’ “And then we would go out and find …
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PITTSFIELD — Baffour Tontoh already has the name, investors and a business plan for the intercity bus company he wants to start back home in Ghana. Roots of that enterprise – Impulse Transportation – will be in Pittsfield, where he has lived for the last six years.“I came here for a reason,” Tontoh says, “and when that is accomplished I will go bac…
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WEST STOCKBRIDGE — Talk to Flavio Lichtenthal about his Argentinian childhood and soccer comes up a lot. On the streets of Buenos Aires that’s what boys play.“I was actually a totally mediocre soccer player but when I came to the States I was one of the stars of my high school team,” Lichtenthal says. “Because I could actually kick the ball and mak…
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PITTSFIELD — Elegant Stitches, the customized embroidery shop now located at 237 First Street, started in Vivian Enchill’s basement in Pittsfield. Vivian had left Ghana to join her husband Alfred, who had already made the move to the Berkshires. Designing clothes was both her trade and her passion in her home country. So, setting up shop and market…
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Viktória Seavey used to hide on Easter Monday to avoid getting a bucket of water dumped over her. OTIS — In their home in Otis, Seavey’s American husband Adam sometimes jokes about restoring the Hungarian Easter tradition of dousing young women. But for the former Viktória Horváth from the small Hungarian town of Kapuvár, the “watering” of girls an…
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German Vargas does not like to hear people say bad things about Colombia. “No, Colombia is not dangerous at all,” he says emphatically. “Let me tell you, the best answer to get if you want to know if my country is dangerous or not is to see for yourself.” Vargas moved from Colombia’s capital Bogotá to the Berkshires in 1991. Now 53, he is a barber …
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Getting your throat slashed while doing your job as a bus driver in San Salvador makes you appreciate Pittsfield all the more. Surviving an ambush by the same gang members shooting at you for disobeying their demands makes you sleep really well in your Morningside apartment.“It’s everything about security,” Josue Diaz says in comparing his life now…
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