Silvia Austerlic - Define American

Silvia Austerlic

Soquel, CA

I was born and grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina within an immigrant Jewish family. I left my homeland because, by my early thirties, I knew my future was not there. I came to the USA with the dream of finding a community with whom to share my gifts and talents. I spent many years as a full-time college student, until I started working as a Latino Community Liaison for a local hospice. I got permanent residency thanks to being bilingual bicultural. Personally, it was very healing and rewarding to find a niche where I could make a difference providing access to culturally sensitive services to the Latino community in Santa Cruz County. In the process of becoming a USA citizen (May 2014), learning about the Pilgrims, my dream is changing… not “having to prove my worth”– but the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. The immigrant journey is challenging in many ways. For some, it’s more the choice to leave behind adverse circumstances such as poverty, unemployment, violence, violation of human rights—than “fulfilling one’s destiny.” For me it has been about healing old wounds and re-writing my story, witnessing and learning about racism, meeting subtle and open forms of exclusion … while making my home in this wonderful town of Santa Cruz, discovering a resiliency I did not know I had, claiming the right to have a voice, and envisioning new horizons for belonging, participation and contribution.

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