Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Valentino Achak Deng

Country of origin: Sudan

Valentino Achak Deng, co-founder, was born in Southern Sudan, in the village of Marial Bai. He fled Sudan in the late 1980’s during civil war, when his village was destroyed by murahaleen—the same type of militia that currently terrorize Darfur. Deng spent nine years in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, where he worked for the UNHCR as a social advocate and reproductive health educator. In 2001 he resettled to Atlanta. Deng has toured the country speaking about his life in Sudan, his experience as a refugee, and his collaboration with author Dave Eggers on What Is the What, the novelized version of Deng’s life story. As a leader in the Sudanese diaspora, Deng advocates for the universal right to education and the freedom of his people in Sudan. In 2006, Deng and Eggers established the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation to help rebuild Sudanese communities by increasing access to educational opportunities. The Foundation’s first major initiative is to create a viable and community-driven educational center in Marial Bai.

This is from the The Valentino Achak Deng Foundation website, which is "a nonprofit organization working to increase access to education in post-conflict Southern Sudan by building schools, libraries, teacher-training institutes, and community centers."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Jhumpa Lahiri

Country of origin: England

Jhumpa Lahiri (Bengali: ঝুম্পা লাহিড়ী; born on July 11, 1967) is an Indian American author. Lahiri's debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies (1999), won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into the popular film of the same name. She was born Nilanjana Sudeshna, which she says are both "good names", but goes by her nickname Jhumpa. Lahiri is a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama.


* 1993 – TransAtlantic Award from the Henfield Foundation
* 1999 – O. Henry Award for short story "Interpreter of Maladies"
* 1999 – PEN/Hemingway Award (Best Fiction Debut of the Year) for Interpreter of Maladies
* 1999 – "Interpreter of Maladies" selected as one of Best American Short Stories
* 2000 – Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
* 2000 – "The Third and Final Continent" selected as one of Best American Short Stories
* 2000 – The New Yorker's Best Debut of the Year for "Interpreter of Maladies"
* 2000 – Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her debut Interpreter of Maladies
* 2000 – James Beard Foundation's M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for "Indian Takeout" in Food & Wine Magazine
* 2002 – Guggenheim Fellowship
* 2002 – "Nobody's Business" selected as one of Best American Short Stories
* 2008 – Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award for Unaccustomed Earth
* 2009 – Asian American Literary Award for Unaccustomed Earth

To learn more about Jhumpa Lahiri, visit her page on Wikipedia.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Patrick Ewing

Country of origin: Jamaica

Patrick Ewing was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1962. His father, Carl, was a mechanic at the time, and his mother, Dorothy, was a homemaker. Dorothy conceived of a better life for her children in the United States, and she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1971 to pave the way for a family move there. She took a job as a kitchen worker in a hospital, and brought her family over one by one. In 1975, at twelve years of age, Patrick Ewing joined his mother and four of his siblings who had immigrated before him. His father eventually found work in a rubber hose factory.

Ewing had never even seen a basketball before his arrival in the United States, much less played the game that was later to make him famous. Soccer is the sport most played in Jamaica, and that was the game he played as a youngster. But he became fascinated by basketball only weeks into his new life as an American. Walking past a playground where other children played basketball, he would often stop and watch. One day, he was asked by the other kids if he wanted to join a game, and he began what was to become a career. Playing basketball did not come easily for the future superstar. "I knew that it was something I'd have to work at," he later told Roy S. Johnson in the New York Times.

Patrick Ewing - Born In Jamaica.

In addition to being part of the Olympic gold medal winning basketball team, Patrick Ewing has supported the Children's Health Fund and is a proponent of organ donation, including offering to donate his own kidney to friend and rival Alonzo Mourning back in 2000.

More sources of information for Patrick Ewing can be found at these links:


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nora Stanton Blatch Barney

Country of origin: England

Nora Stanton Blatch Barney (September 30, 1883 – January 18, 1971) was an American civil engineer, architect, and suffragist.

To read more about Nora Stanton Blatch Barney, visit her page on Wikipedia, or read about her in The First American Women Architects by Sarah Allaback.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sophia Hayden Bennett

Country of origin: Chile

Her Wikipedia article is as follows:

Sophia Hayden Bennett (October 17, 1868 – February 3, 1953) was the first American woman to receive an architecture degree.

Bennett was born in Santiago, Chile. She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1890 with a degree in architecture. She is best known for designing the Woman's Building at the World's Columbian Exposition, designing the building when she was just 21. She received $1,000 at the time for the design, when male architects earned ten times as much. Bennett died in 1953 in Winthrop, Massachusetts.

For more information about Sophia Hayden Bennett, see this link, or you can read about her in The First American Women Architects by Sarah Allaback.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nana Gbewonyo

Country of origin: Ghana

His page on Wikipedia states:

Nana Gbewonyo (born December 11, 1980) is an actor who played the role of Junior Battle in the film Coach Carter that was released in January 2005. He was born in Accra, Ghana, but moved to California when he was three with his parents. He played college basketball for Washburn University in Kansas and Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

His movie credits include Gran Torino, ER, and Coach Carter. To read more about Nana Gbewonyo, visit this biography page.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Victor S. Wahby

Country of origin: Egypt

Victor S. Wahby, MD, PhD, FACP, is an Egyptian-American physician, born 1945 in Alexandria; Egypt’s northern outpost on the Mediterranean.


He subsequently was recruited to the faculty at the Yale, Chicago and George Washington Medical Schools respectively, and held various leadership positions at the VA Medical System. He is currently a senior physician at the Veterans Health Administration in Washington, DC, where he is leading its veteran’s health communications outreach. He also produced the award-winning “VATV”, a health program for veterans and the public on PBS Television and the Internet. Dr. Wahby is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP).

Dr. Wahby is a champion of veterans causes, as well as of the provision of charitable care to the uninsured and underserved. A Renaissance man, he is also a musician and is the founder of the VA-National Medical Musical Group (VA-NMMG), now the premier medical musical group in America.

To read more about Victor S. Wahby, visit his page at the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations website.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob Hope

Country of origin: England

Sir Bob Hope, KBE, KCSG, KSS (born Leslie Townes Hope; May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was a British-born American comedian and actor who appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in radio, television and movies. He was also noted for his work with the US Armed Forces and his numerous USO shows entertaining American military personnel. Throughout his career, he was honored for his humanitarian work. In 1996, the U.S. Congress honored Bob Hope by declaring him the "first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces." Bob Hope appeared in or hosted 199 known USO shows.

His list of awards and accomplishments can be found on his page at Wikipedia.

Below is a quote from Ellis Island interviews : in their own words:

We were only at Ellis Island for a few hours. But I do remember standing with my mother and five brothers on the boat as it entered New York Harbor for the first time, and seeing the lights and the Statue of Liberty. It was early morning. I was wearing knickers and a cap, and it was cold. My nose was running. I was just a kid. I didn't know what was going on. And I remember looking up at my mother after we passed through inspection. We smiled and kissed and hugged each other because we had achieved this great thing, this rite of passage...

Years later, after I made it in show business, vaudeville, I guess I was in my late twenties. I was doing some sort of publicity thing in New York---down near the harbor. I just remember staring out over the water to Ellis Island and the statue, and remember feeling very grateful, very lucky, and saying to myself, "Thank you." Thanks for the memory. That was the first song I sang in the movies with Shirley Ross and it was such a hit, I just kept doing it. But emotionally, when I hear it, I think of that day we arrived at Ellis Island. I don't think, in all my years, I ever told anyone that...

To find out more, you can also visit this page or this page.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ahmed Zewail

Country of origin: Egypt

Ahmed Hassan Zewail (Arabic: أحمد حسن زويل‎) (born February 26, 1946 in Damanhour, Egypt) is an Egyptian-American scientist, and the winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on femtochemistry. He is the Linus Pauling Chair Professor Chemistry and Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology.

To read more about Ahmed Zewail, visit his page on Wikipedia, or the Nobel Prize website, or perhaps his page at Caltech.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Samuel Goldwyn

Country of origin: Poland (Russian empire)

Samuel Goldwyn (c. July 1879 – January 31, 1974) was an American film producer, and founding contributor executive of several motion picture studios.

Goldwyn was born Schmuel Gelbfisz in Warsaw, Congress Poland, Russian Empire to a Hasidic, Polish Jewish family. At an early age, he left Warsaw on foot and penniless. He made his way to Birmingham, England, where he remained with relatives for a few years using the name Samuel Goldfish. In 1898, he emigrated to the United States, but fearing refusal of entry, he got off the boat in Nova Scotia, Canada, before moving on to New York in January 1899. He found work in upstate Gloversville, New York, in the bustling garment business. Soon his innate marketing skills made him a very successful salesman. After four years, as vice-president for sales, he moved back to New York City.


For more than three decades, Goldwyn made numerous successful films and received Best Picture Oscar nominations for Arrowsmith (1931), Dodsworth (1936), Dead End (1937), Wuthering Heights (1939), and The Little Foxes (1941). The leading actors in several of Goldwyn films were also Oscar-nominated for their performances.


* In 1957, Goldwyn was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes.

* On March 27, 1971, Goldwyn was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon.

To read more about Samuel Goldwyn, visit his page on Wikipedia.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Henry E. Steinway

Country of origin: Germany

Henry E. Steinway (February 15, 1797 – February 7, 1871) made pianos in Germany and the United States. He was the founder of the piano company Steinway & Sons.


Because of the unstable political climate following the revolutions of 1848 in the German states, Steinweg decided to leave the country. He emigrated from Braunschweig to New York City in 1851 with four of his sons, but before leaving he gave the company to his son, Christian Friedrich Theodor Steinweg. Later in New York, he anglicized his name to Henry E. Steinway upon advise from friends, who concluded, that the German surname Steinweg would be disadvantageous for doing business. Steinway and his sons worked for other piano companies until they could establish their own production under the name of Steinway & Sons in 1853.

The overstrung scale in a square piano earned the Steinway Piano first prize at the New York Industrial Fair of 1855. In 1862 they gained the first prize in London in competition with the most eminent makers in Europe; and this victory was followed in 1867 by a similar success at the Universal exposition in Paris. According to Franz Liszt, Anton Rubinstein, and other high authorities, the Steinways have done more to advance the durability, action, and tone-quality of their instruments than any other makers of Europe or America.

To read the fascinating story of Henry E. Steinway, see his page on Wikipedia, as well as the page about the company he founded.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Firoozeh Dumas

Country of origin: Iran

Firoozeh Dumas was born in Abadan, Iran and moved to Whittier, California at the age of seven. After a two-year stay, she and her family moved back to Iran and lived in Ahvaz and Tehran. Two years later, they moved back to Whittier, then to Newport Beach. Firoozeh then attended UC Berkeley where she met and married a Frenchman.

Firoozeh grew up listening to her father, a former Fulbright Scholar, recount the many colorful stories of his life. In 2001, with no prior writing experience, Firoozeh decided to write her stories as a gift for her children. Random House published these stories in 2003. Funny in Farsi was on the SF Chronicle and LA Times bestseller lists and was a finalist for the PEN/USA award in 2004 and a finalist in 2005 for an Audie Award for best audio book. She lost to Bob Dylan. She was also a finalist for the prestigious Thurber Prize for American Humor, the first Middle Eastern woman ever to receive this honor. Unfortunately, she lost that one to Jon Stewart. Even though, as Firoozeh’s dad likes to point out, Jon Stewart wrote his book with a team of writers, while Firoozeh wrote hers, alone, before her children woke up for school.

To read more about Firoozeh Dumas, see her biography on her website. Also there is a lengthy video interview here.

I'm currently reading her book Funny in Farsi, an amusing and insightful memoir of a young Iranian girl in America, right at the time the average American's response to Iran was changing from, "where is that?" to the negative climate brought on by the hostage crisis.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Louis B. Mayer

Country of origin: Russia

Louis Burt Mayer (July 12, 1884[1] – October 29, 1957) born Lazar Meir (Russian: Лазарь Меир) was an American film producer. He is generally cited as the creator of the "star system" within Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in its golden years. Known always as Louis B. Mayer and often simply as "L.B.", he believed in wholesome entertainment and went to great lengths so that MGM had "more stars than there are in the heavens".


As a studio boss, Louis B. Mayer built MGM into the most financially successful motion picture studio in the world and the only one to pay dividends throughout the Great Depression of the 1930s.

To read more about Louis B. Mayer, see his page on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kitaw Ejigu

Country of origin: Ethiopia

Upon completion of his studies and researches in the late 1970s, he started working for NASA as a system engineer and space research scientist. He collaborated with other scientists on the space shuttle and other rocketry projects. Kitaw Ejigu was Ethiopia's first aerospace scientist. The only Ethiopian in the field, Kitaw also worked for Rockwell International and Boeing.

Apart from his work as an aerospace scientist, he was also known for his efforts to bring about political change in Ethiopia. He publicly denounced the regime in Ethiopia and its actions and policies. Even though he was ambitious about using his knowledge, experience and high-status to help his homeland Ethiopia , he repeatedly said he was not made welcome by the regime. In 2002, he founded a political party, the Ethiopian National United Front, to help overthrow Meles Zenawi's regime

The full Wikipedia article can be found here. In addition, a short biography can be found here. Below is an article posted to the Ethiopian National United Front, which he founded:

Scientist Kitaw Ejigu Dies at Age 58
January 13, 2006

The former NASA Chief of Spacecraft and Satellite Systems engineer
and Ethiopian patriot, Kitaw Ejigu died an hour past midnight on January
13, 2005 four days after he underwent surgery at North Austin Medical Center in Austin Texas.

Engineer Kitaw, a long time resident of California traveled to Austin to visit with his extended family over the Ethiopian Christmas holiday on January 7, 2006. A devout Christian and family man, Kitaw was having fun with children when he fell and hurt himself. A team of neurosurgeons were unable to stop the internal brain hemorrhage, according to family and friends who were by his side when he passed away.

Kitaw was born in Bonga, Keffa, Ethiopia on April 23, 1948 and, attended the Miazia 27th High School in Jimma province. He then went to Bahr Dar Polytechnic Institute and received his diploma in 1966 as a top student in mechanical engineering with specialization in Agricultural Technology. After graduating from the Institute, Kitaw worked at the Ethiopian Automotive Services and Sales Company (EASSCO) as Chief Technical Advisor and Assistant Manager for two years.

In 1972 he won a scholarship from the Japanese Overseas Technical Association and traveled to Japan, where he studied automotive engineering at Hiroshima University and language and Japanese economics at Osaka University. He later moved to the United States and began his intensive research and training, and earned an MS/MBA in business administration in 1979 and doctorate in space vehicle systems engineering from Northrop University in California.

Kitaw subsequently became interested in space technology. While pursuing his academic studies, he worked for different aerospace companies, such as Garret Air Research and Advanced Bonding Technology Labs. In 1977 he was hired by the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) of California Institute of Technology (a NASA research center) in Pasadena, California and achieved recognition for becoming Chief Spacecraft Systems Design Engineer.

Engineer Kitaw invented two aerospace mechanisms for JPL/NASA, which were patented under NASA’s new technology; Kitaw’s brilliant career also included working as Space Technology and Systems Research scientist at Boeing, Rockwell International, and Loral Corp. In that position, he was responsible for the definition, design, development, integration, test and launching of advanced planetary mission spacecrafts and earth-orbiting satellite systems. As a systems design engineer at JPL, Kitaw also managed a joint NASA/ESA (European Space Agency) International Solar Polar Mission Spacecraft Systems Interface.

In 1978, Kitaw invented two aerospace mechanisms (patented under NASA's new technologies programs) while working with other NASA scientists and the Apollo astronaut Buz Aldrin, second man to walk on the Moon. In several related advanced technology application research effort on Mars missions, Kitaw managed Martin Marietta's research team and produced outstanding scientific results.

Kitaw joined Rockwell International (builder of the space shuttle orbiter), Space Systems Division in 1986. He became a Principal Investigator/Chief Research Engineer for several advanced space systems projects at Rockwell. He worked as a Project Manager in the Advanced Programs Engineering Department. He oversaw the development of advanced technologies for Kinetic Energy Weapons Systems in support of the SDI and related programs (ASAT, GBI, E2I, TMD). Kitaw was also a program manager for a Lunar/Mars Micro-Rover research and development effort in support of NASA's future exploration missions.

Kitaw then turned his attention to Africa and his beloved Ethiopia hoping to introduce and advance technology based development. He and colleagues established global technologies service systems - TransTech International, a privately owned satellite and related systems engineering company and Kitaw served as President/CEO until he passed away.

In 2001 Kitaw visited with former Ethiopian university students who, were dismissed from the national university and took refuge in Kenya, and founded the Ethiopian National United Front (ENUF) at the urging of the students. He was incensed at the loss of young talent and brain drain menacing African states. He attempted and succeeded in enrolling and supporting some students at the University of Nairobi. Others chose to join him in the struggle for freedom and democracy and a political organization was borne. Because of his deep concern and love for his motherland Ethiopia and her people, he dedicated most of his latter years serving as a visionary leader of this major opposition party -The Ethiopian National United Front.

Among Ethiopians in and out the country, he was known for his determination to build a democratic nation by first removing the current tyrannical ethnocentric regime through multi-pronged strategies. He had earned the respect on millions of followers due to his visionary leadership, generosity, exemplary personal achievements, and serving as a mentor and inspiration for young scientists. Members and supporters of the Ethiopian National United Front are determined and sworn to dedicate their energies to complete the mission that he envisioned and defended so vigorously. He will be truly missed.

He will be most missed by his spouse and ardent supporter Stella Ejgu and his three children Sarah Abigail, Benyam and Yared and the extended families and friends that he dearly embraced.

The above is from a pdf located here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hyman G. Rickover

Country of origin: Poland

Hyman George Rickover (January 27, 1900 – July 8, 1986) was a four-star admiral in the United States Navy who directed the original development of naval nuclear propulsion and controlled its operations for three decades as director of Naval Reactors. In addition, he oversaw the development of the Shippingport Atomic Power Station, the world's first commercial pressurized water reactor used for generating electricity.

Rickover is known as the "Father of the Nuclear Navy", which as of July 2007 had produced 200 nuclear-powered submarines, and 23 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and cruisers, though many of these U.S. vessels are now decommissioned and others under construction.

With his unique personality, political connections, responsibilities, and depth of knowledge regarding naval nuclear propulsion, Rickover became the longest-serving naval officer in U.S. history with 63 years active duty.

Rickover's substantial legacy of technical achievements includes the United States Navy's continuing record of zero reactor accidents, as defined by the uncontrolled release of fission products subsequent to reactor core damage.


As quoted by President Jimmy Carter during his 1984 interview with Diane Sawyer:

"One of the most remarkable things that he ever told me was when we were together on the submarine and he said that he wished that a nuclear explosive had never been evolved. And then he said, 'I wish that nuclear power had never been discovered.' And I said, 'Admiral, this is your life.' He said, 'I would forego all the accomplishments of my life, and I would be willing to forego all the advantages of nuclear power to propel ships, for medical research and for every other purpose of generating electric power, if we could have avoided the evolution of atomic explosives.'"

To read more about Hyman G. Rickover, read his page on Wikipedia.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My cable guy Tony

Country of origin: Sweden

He has been here in the United States for 12 years. He came to America to explore someplace new and ended up getting his degree here (a Bachelors in telecommunications in San Francisco). While in San Francisco he met his wife (who is an American). He and his wife eventually want to go back to Sweden.

He and I talked about attitudes towards immigrants (he was curious about my blog when I mentioned it). Apparently there has been a huge recent influx of immigrants into Sweden, with a corresponding backlash from the native Swedish people. While the situation in Sweden is significantly different from the US (with "Nearly a quarter of Sweden’s population is now foreign born or has a foreign-born parent."), there are many lessons that can be learned from examining what Sweden is currently going through that I think we as a country would find helpful to examine. For example:

Prof. Jan Ekberg, an economist at Linnaeus University, questions the policies that allowed so many refugees to settle far from jobs. “They are depending on the public sector now as never before,” he said. “That was a policy mistake.”

The rest of the above article is insightful and well worth reading. Also of interest along these lines is an article about Hanif Bali, who is an Iranian refugee elected to the Swedish parliament.

In conclusion, I'd like to thank my cable guy for letting me grill him while he installed my new Internet connection (he did a great job btw) and include this little snippet about previous Swedish immigration to the United States:

During the Swedish emigration to the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries, about 1.3 million Swedes left Sweden for the United States of America. While the land of the U.S. frontier was a magnet for poor all over Europe, some factors especially encouraged Swedish emigration. There was widespread resentment against the religious repression practiced by the Swedish Lutheran State Church and the social conservatism and class snobbery of the Swedish monarchy. Population growth and crop failures made conditions in the Swedish countryside increasingly bleak. By contrast, reports from early Swedish emigrants painted the American Midwest as an earthly paradise, and praised American religious and political freedom and undreamed-of opportunities.


Immigration rose again at the turn of the 20th century, reaching a new peak of about 35,000 Swedes in 1903. Figures remained high until World War I, alarming both conservative Swedes, who saw emigration as a challenge to national solidarity, and liberals, who feared the disappearance of the labor force necessary for economic development. One-fifth of all Swedes had made the United States their home, and a broad national consensus mandated that a Parliamentary Emigration Commission study the problem in 1907. Approaching the task with what Barton calls "characteristic Swedish thoroughness", the Commission published its findings and proposals in 21 large volumes. The Commission rejected conservative proposals for legal restrictions on emigration and in the end supported the liberal line of "bringing the best sides of America to Sweden" through social and economic reform. Topping the list of urgent reforms were universal male suffrage, better housing, and general economic development. The Commission especially hoped that broader popular education would counteract "class and caste differences."

To read the rest of the fascinating history of Swedes immigrating to the United States, see the corresponding article on Wikipedia.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tarthang Tulku

Country of origin: Tibet

Tarthang Tulku (born 1934) is a Tibetan teacher (lama) in the Nyingma tradition who lives in America, where he works to preserve the art and culture of Tibet. He oversees various projects including Dharma Publishing, Yeshe-De, Tibetan Aid Project, and the construction of the Odiyan Copper Mountain Mandala. Tarthang Tulku introduced Kum Nye into the West.

As one of the last remaining lamas to have received a complete Buddhist education in pre-1959 Tibet, Tarthang Tulku left Tibet and taught in Benares, India, until emigrating to America in 1969 with his wife, the poet Nazli Nour. After settling in Berkeley, CA they established the Tibetan Aid Project (TAP) which serves the needs of the Tibetan refugee community.

To read more about Tarthang Tulku see his page on Wikipedia (particularly the links at the bottom of the page) to find out more about him and the plight of the Tibetan people.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Greta Garbo

Country of origin: Sweden

Greta Lovisa Gustafsson (18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990), better known as Greta Garbo, was a noted Swedish actress and recluse. She was a major star in the United States during the silent film era and the Golden Age of Hollywood. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Garbo fifth on their list of greatest female stars of all time, after Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman.

To read more about Greta Garbo, visit her page on Wikipedia.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Country of origin: Cuba

As the 100th immigrant featured in my blog, I present Raul Ramos y Sanchez:

Cuban-born Raul Ramos y Sanchez grew up in Miami’s cultural stew before becoming a long-time resident of the U.S. Midwest. After a successful career in advertising that included founding an ad agency with offices in Ohio and California, Ramos turned to more personally significant work. This began with developing a documentary for public television, Two Americas: The Legacy of our Hemisphere and also creating MyIimmigrationStory.com — an online forum for the U.S. immigrant community.

To see the rest of his biography, check out his website here. Also, you may find the following interviews of interest:

audio interview

CNN interview (in Spanish with English subtitles)

And of course, last but not least his immigrant blog can be found here, with the following description:

Statistics do not tell the story of immigration. People do. Since its inception, this nation has been continually infused with the energy of newcomers. Yet their assimilation has seldom been smooth. The challenges we face today are not new. Only the stories are.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dalip Singh Saund

Country of origin: India

Dalip Singh Saund (Punjabi: ਦਲੀਪ ਸਿੰਘ ਸਾਓੁਂਦ) (September 20, 1899–April 22, 1973) was a member of the United States House of Representatives. He served the 29th District of California from January 3, 1957–January 3, 1963. He was the first Asian American, Indian American and Sikh member of the United States Congress. He is to date the only Sikh to have served in Congress, though Congressman Martin Hoke (R-OH) lived as a Sikh for a period of time in the 1970s.

To read more about Dalip Singh Saund, visit his page on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Emmy Noether

Country of origin: Germany

Amalie Emmy Noether, German pronunciation: [ˈnøːtɐ], (23 March 1882 – 14 April 1935) was an influential German mathematician known for her groundbreaking contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics. Described by David Hilbert, Albert Einstein and others as the most important woman in the history of mathematics, she revolutionized the theories of rings, fields, and algebras. In physics, Noether's theorem explains the fundamental connection between symmetry and conservation laws.

To read more about Emmy Noether, visit her page on Wikipedia.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Antonio Banderas

Country of origin: Spain

José Antonio Domínguez Bandera (born August 10, 1960), better known as Antonio Banderas, is a Spanish film actor, film director, film producer and singer. He began his acting career at age 19 with a series of films by director Pedro Almodóvar and then appeared in high-profile Hollywood films including Assassins, Evita, Interview with the Vampire, Philadelphia, Desperado, The Mask of Zorro, Spy Kids and the Shrek sequels.

To find out more about Antonio Banderas, visit his page on Wikipedia. You can also see a list of charities and causes that he supports here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Country of origin: Switzerland

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. (July 8, 1926 – August 24, 2004) was a Swiss-born psychiatrist, a pioneer in Near-death studies and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969), where she first discussed what is now known as the Kübler-Ross model.

She is a 2007 inductee into the National Women's Hall of Fame. She was the recipient of twenty honorary degrees and by July 1982 had taught, in her estimation, 125,000 students in death and dying courses in colleges, seminaries, medical schools, hospitals, and social-work institutions. In 1970, she delivered the The Ingersoll Lectures on Human Immortality at Harvard University, on the theme, On Death and Dying.


Her extensive work with the dying led to the book On Death and Dying in 1969. In this work she proposed the now famous Five Stages of Grief as a pattern of adjustment. These five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In general, individuals experience most of these stages, though in no defined sequence, after being faced with the reality of their impending death. The five stages have since been adopted by many as applying to the survivors of a loved one's death, as well.

To read more about Elisabeth Kübler-Ross visit her page on wikipedia. You may also wish to visit The Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation as well.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Charlie Chaplin

Country of origin: England

Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor, film director and composer best-known for his work during the silent film era. He became one of the most famous film stars in the world before the end of World War I.


Chaplin was one of the most creative and influential personalities of the silent-film era. He was influenced by his predecessor, the French silent film comedian Max Linder, to whom he dedicated one of his films. His working life in entertainment spanned over 75 years, from the Victorian stage and the Music Hall in the United Kingdom as a child performer, until close to his death at the age of 88. His high-profile public and private life encompassed both adulation and controversy. Chaplin's identification with the left ultimately forced him to resettle in Europe during the McCarthy era in the early 1950s.


Although Chaplin had his major successes in the United States and was a resident from 1914 to 1953, he always maintained a neutral nationalistic stance. During the era of McCarthyism, Chaplin was accused of "un-American activities" as a suspected communist and J. Edgar Hoover, who had instructed the FBI to keep extensive secret files on him, tried to end his United States residency. FBI pressure on Chaplin grew after his 1942 campaign for a second European front in the war and reached a critical level in the late 1940s, when Congressional figures threatened to call him as a witness in hearings. This was never done, probably from fear of Chaplin's ability to lampoon the investigators.

In 1952, Chaplin left the US for what was intended as a brief trip home to the United Kingdom for the London premiere of Limelight. Hoover learned of the trip and negotiated with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to revoke Chaplin's re-entry permit, exiling Chaplin so he could not return for his alleged political leanings. Chaplin decided not to re-enter the United States, writing: "Since the end of the last world war, I have been the object of lies and propaganda by powerful reactionary groups who, by their influence and by the aid of America's yellow press, have created an unhealthy atmosphere in which liberal-minded individuals can be singled out and persecuted. Under these conditions I find it virtually impossible to continue my motion-picture work, and I have therefore given up my residence in the United States."

To learn more about Charlie Chaplin and the depths to which our country sank during the McCarthy era, visit Charlie Chaplin's link on Wikipedia. There is also extensive information about Charlie Chaplin here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Silvestre S. Herrera

Country of origin: Mexico

Private First Class Silvestre S. Herrera (July 17, 1917 – November 26, 2007) was a member of the United States Army of Hispanic heritage who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during World War II in Mertzwiller, France. His one-man charge on an enemy stronghold resulted in his single-handed capture of eight enemy soldiers. At the time of his death he was the only living person authorized to wear both the Medal of Honor and Mexico's Order of Military Merit (first class). The City of Phoenix officially renamed the portion of 3rd Street that runs from Indian School Road North into the park, "S. Herrera Way". Silvestre Herrera was an Arizona "legend".

Herrera was born in the Mexican city of Camargo, Chihuahua, and not, as he once believed, in El Paso, Texas. His parents died when he was only a year old, and the man he had always thought was his father was really an uncle who had brought the 18-month old Herrera to El Paso to provide him with a better way of life in the United States. This fact was unknown to him until he was 27 years old. Herrera worked as a farm hand in El Paso. He soon moved to Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Ramona and three children, Mary, Elva, Silvestre, Jr. and the uncle he believed to be his father. Herrera was a member of the Texas National Guard, 36th Division. When the United States entered World War II, his unit was to be one of the first to land in Europe. When he broke the news to his family, he was told the truth about his parents' death and his place of birth.


Herrera became the first resident from Arizona to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II. Arizona Governor Sidney P. Osborn declared August 14, 1945 to be "Herrera Day" and welcomed home Pfc. Silvestre S. Herrera with a hero's parade. A drive to bestow upon him citizenship of the only country he knew was started and as a result he was granted United States Citizenship. The citizens of Arizona raised $14,000 to provide him and his growing family with a new home.

Valle Del Sol, Inc. recognized him with a Special Recognition Award in 1994, and with a Hall of Fame award in 1999. On March 13, 1996, Herrera was honored by the United States House of Representatives upon recommendation of Congressman Ed Pastor. An elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona — the Silvestre S Herrera School — bears his name.

To read more about Silvestre S. Herrera, visit his page on Wikipedia.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Emilie Boon

Country of origin: Netherlands

Emilie Boon is an American children's author and illustrator. She was born in the Netherlands and has studied at the Royal Academy of Art at The Hague. Her books include Belinda's Balloon and the Peterkin series. She currently lives in Newton, Massachusetts. Her books have been published in English, Dutch, Finnish, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish, and Spanish.

To read more about Emilie Boon, visit her page on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Marlene Dietrich

Country of origin: Germany

Marlene Dietrich (German pronunciation: [maɐˈleːnə ˈdiːtʁɪç]; 27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992) was a German born American actress and singer.

Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself, professionally and characteristically. In the Berlin of the 1920s, she acted on the stage and in silent films. Her performance as Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel, directed by Josef von Sternberg, brought her international fame and provided her a contract with Paramount Pictures in the US. Hollywood films such as Shanghai Express and Desire capitalised on her glamour and exotic looks, cementing her stardom and making her one of the highest paid actresses of the era. Dietrich became a US citizen in 1937, and throughout World War II she was a high-profile frontline entertainer. Although she still made occasional films in the post-war years, Dietrich spent most of the 1950s to the 1970s touring the world as a successful show performer.

In 1999, the American Film Institute named Dietrich the ninth greatest female star of all time.

To read more about Marlene Dietrich, visit her page on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sara Seager

Country of origin: Canada

Sara Seager (born 1971) is a Canadian-American astronomer who is currently a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and known for her work on extrasolar planets. She was born in Toronto, Canada. In 1994, she earned the degree of Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Toronto. In 1999, Seager was granted a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University. Her doctoral thesis explored atmospheres on extrasolar planets.

Sara Seager used the term "Gas Dwarf" for a high mass super earth type planet composed mainly of Hydrogen and Helium in an animation of one model of the exoplanet Gliese 581 c. The term "gas dwarf" has also been used to refer to planets smaller than gas giants, with thick hydrogen and helium atmospheres. NASA's PlanetQuest referred to her as "an astronomical Indiana Jones".

For more information about Sara Seager, see a description of her work here or visit her Wikipedia page for links to other sites with information about her.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gerda Weissmann Klein

Country of origin: Poland

Gerda Weissmann Klein (born May 8, 1924) is an author, humanitarian, historian, inspirational speaker, naturalized citizen and Holocaust survivor. For over six decades she has captivated audiences worldwide with her powerful message of hope, inspiration, love and humanity. In her speeches and books, she draws from her wealth of life experiences: from surviving the Holocaust and meeting her future husband on the day of her liberation, to her journey to the United States, accepting an Academy Award and Emmy for a documentary based on her life, and her constant fight to promote tolerance, encourage community service and combat hunger.

To find out more about Gerda Weissmann Klein, visit her page on Wikipedia, or her personal history here.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Khalil Gibran

Country of origin: Ottoman Syria (modern day Lebanon)

Khalil Gibran (born Gubran Khalil Gubran; Arabic جبران خليل جبران , January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931) also known as Kahlil Gibran was a Lebanese American artist, poet, and writer. Born in the town of Bsharri in modern-day Lebanon (then part of the Ottoman Mount Lebanon mutasarrifate), as a young man he emigrated with his family to the United States where he studied art and began his literary career. He is chiefly known in the English speaking world for his 1923 book The Prophet, an early example of inspirational fiction including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose. The book sold well despite a cool critical reception, and became extremely popular in the 1960s counterculture. Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.

To learn more about this amazing writer, visit his page on Wikipedia, or read one of his man wonderful published works.