Commemorated annually in June, National Immigrant Heritage Month honors the rich historical, societail, and cultural contributions of immigrants to American history. The vibrant identity of the United States is formed by the courageous individuals who come from diverse corners of the globe in search of refuge and prosperity. Immigrants have woven their sacrifices into the fabric of our nation, and the American dream of limitless possibilities has been fostered and propelled forward by these visionary newcomers. Listen to and share stories from our collection that celebrates their profound influence.
In 2006, Luis Paulino immigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic. He was a child and didn’t speak any English, so he struggled during his first year in school. Four years later — then a senior in high school — he’d meet Angel Gonzalez, who reminded him of his younger self. Angel was also a transfer student from the Dominican Republic, and he was facing challenges that Luis could understand.
Growing up in Bakersfield, California, Randy Villegas and his older brother Angel lived under the same roof, but in separate realities: Randy was a U.S. citizen, but Angel was undocumented. The two siblings came to StoryCorps in 2020, when they were in their twenties, to talk for the first time about the moment Angel realized he was undocumented, and how that affected their relationship.
Lessons from Lourdes
Lourdes Villanueva grew up a daughter of migrant workers. Her family was constantly on the move, which prevented Lourdes from receiving her high school diploma. Despite the odds stacked against her, Lourdes was determined to complete her education all while balancing working in the fields and parenting her children. At StoryCorps, Lourdes sits down with her son Roger, who reflects on how his mother’s dedication inspired him.
Just Like Yesterday
In 1989, Tabinda was working in a Manhattan hotel as a housekeeper. She had just immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic and one day at work, she caught the eye of a fellow employee who was working behind the hotel’s front desk—Tariq Sheikh.
Tariq was also a recent immigrant, but from Pakistan, and he remembers that the first time he saw her, Tabinda was hard at work. She was still in her yellow gloves and neither spoke English too well, but after a few clumsy love notes, a relationship was born.
Tariq and Tabinda have now been married for 25 years and have a 20-year-old son, Madani Sheikh. They live in Jersey City, New Jersey, not far from the park bench they were sharing the first time Tariq realized he had fallen in love with Tabinda.
They came to StoryCorps to share the story of how they met.