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    May 4 @ 1:00 am - 3:00 pm
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    May 11 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm


This month’s featured thought leader is Faratiana, a new American citizen from Madagascar. She is a member of New AP’s Forward program cohort, working toward a job in her field of IT. She volunteers for her church, her son’s school and for the New AP Civic Engagement program. This is her story. 

“God is with us and we move step by step. Not as we like, but step by step, always moving forward.”

Moving Forward through Service

As a recent new citizen, Faratiana started volunteering with New AP to help other brand-new citizens register to vote, just down the street from our office at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. “It’s easy,” she shares. “It’s a way to connect people and lead to your passion.”

Faratiana likes going back to USCIS where she and her husband were sworn in just last year. When people go through their naturalization ceremony, it’s a happy moment. She likes to greet them with the voter’s registration sign to congratulate them and help them register.

She believes that it’s really important for people to vote. “You can make a decision to vote for something. That’s why I was interested in helping people and I think it’s a good thing to give back to the United States.”  She sees that every volunteer opportunity offers not only a way to give back but also a chance to grow her network and gain transferrable skills.

Faratiana and her husband’s journey to the U.S. began over a decade ago. She met her husband Tsiry when they were studying Engineering at the private university Institut Superieur Polytechynique de Madagascar (ISPM) in their home country of Madagascar. While she was studying in the software program, he was studying in the hardware program. After they met (and possibly because they met), Tsiry switched to the software program. They interned together at an airline company, soon after completed their Bachelor’s degrees and Faratiana immediately found work in her field at a software company.

According to Faratiana, Madagascar is a beautiful country, but it is a poor country and there is a lot of corruption in government. Many Malagasy natives seek opportunities elsewhere. In 2008 she and her (now) husband applied for a diversity visa through the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program. During the two years of processing required, they had a son. They were thrilled to be approved for the program, and all three made their journey to the United States in 2010.  Faratiana and Tsiry anticipated bringing their specialized skills to America, where there is high demand for IT talent.

There are few people from Madagascar in Georgia – Faratiana estimates 16 to 20 as she has connected them all by coordinating a social media group. (She says that people she meets often know her country only by the Disney movie of the same name. She has even been asked if people there live in trees!)

She and Tsiry found that getting work in the IT field here is not the same as back home. Language for them has been the greatest barrier. While the native language of Madagascar is Malagasy, French is the official language for education and business. Even though Faratiana and Tsiry also learned English back home – and her English is very good – they have found that the barrier when English is not your first language is still significant.

Knowing that an IT job may be challenging upon arrival, they both immediately sought lower skilled work to start paying their way. Tsiry found a part-time job and Faratiana worked as a nanny. After a year, Tsiry enrolled at Georgia Perimeter College and was able to pay in-state tuition.

Their family has grown to four: their daughter will soon turn three. Child care led to additional hardship in finding work. A member of Faratiana’s church recommended that she seek help with vocational counseling, and she ultimately found our Forward program. Faratiana says that she and her husband work very hard to achieve their goals. While there continue to be challenges, they see progress and never give up.

She has just completed her first month in Forward and is now anticipating being matched with a mentor in her field. About overcoming barriers, she says: “God is with us and we move step by step. Not as we like, but step by step, always moving forward.” Most of their family is still in Madagascar, and they do what they can to help them, too.

Some people say to me, ‘focus on this [software] because you need to make money’. I am a religious Christian person, and I think that God sent me to do the things he thinks I will do well. Even if I do it without money, God sent me to do it and I will do it.”

If you are interested in becoming a voter’s registration volunteer, sign up for our next volunteer orientation. You can witness the happy moment when new Americans become new American citizens, and then help them take the next step.

Archived Thought Leadership Stories

March 2019: The Opportunity of an Open Door by Zinah

February 2019: My Life’s Purpose by Thien

December 2018: Thank You, America! by Nawroz

November 2018: A vote for Resettlement is a Vote for Democracy by Ashley

September 2018: Greetings from MODA! by Laura Flusche

August 2018: The Ideal Candidate by Justine Okello

July 2018: My Role in Welcoming, and Being Welcomed by Mary Martha Myette

June 2018: A Reflection on a Year of Service by Laurel

April 2018: Why I Serve with Refugees by Minji Kim

February 2018: Where are the Refugees? by Stephanie Jackson Ali

January 2018: Sharing Riches Through Mentorship by Kelsey Smith

December 2017: Thoughts on Doing Good This Season by Andrew Leba

October/November 2017: Thoughts on Thankfulness by Paedia Mixon

September 2017: Undocumented and Unafraid: My Parents, My Heroes by Raymond Partolan

August 2017: Building PathDriver: My Path to Drive an Impact by Robin Deutsch Edwards

July 2017: Civic Engagement Regardless of Citizenship by Maria del Rosario Palacios

June 2017: Celebrating World Refugee Day by Rabbi Peter S. Berg

May 2017: Love>Fear: And It’s Good For Business by Bonnie Kallenberg

April 2017:Talking with Babies Makes Their Brains Smarter by Nitza Vega-Lahr, Ph.D.

March 2017: It’s All About Student Support by Terry Segovis

February 2017: Clarkston, Georgia: An Ever-Changing Town by Awet Eyasu

January 2017: Reclaiming Georgia’s Legacy of Love by Paedia Mixon

December 2016: Reflections on Welcoming Communities Trip to Germany by Alicia Phillip

November 2016: Thanksgiving in America by Bishop Robert Wright

October 2016: Voting: The Real American Dream by Elizabeth Poythress

August/September 2016: From the Road: das Willkommen by Paedia Mixon

July 2016: My Life In AmeriCorps by Lauren Mertens

June 2016: Reflecting On World Refugee Day

May 2016: A Gift for my Parents by Bee Nguyen

April 2016: The Ripple Effect by Breauna Hagen

March 2016: Lessons I’ve Learned Tutoring a Refugee by Ashley Hager

February 2016: For the Love of Humanity by Safia Jama

January 2016: 4D Service Learning at The Galloway School by Scotti Belfi

November and December 2015: A Case for Syrian Resettlement by Paedia Mixon

October 2015: Creating a Welcoming Atlanta Interview with Luisa Cardona

September 2015: Third-Annual Red, White and NEW Event Exceeds Fundraising and Advocacy Goals by Kelley Lugo

August 2015: Patti Garrett – August 2015 Food for Thought by Patti Garrett

July 2015: Engaging International Families in Parent Groups by Patti Ghezzi

June 2015: Reflecting on the Fourth of July by Kevin Abel

May 2015: Looking Back on Iraq by Whitney Kweskin

April 2015: All Hail Hall by Spencer Hall

March 2015: Honoring our Volunteers by Adriana Varela

February 2015: Celebrating New Americans by Charles Barnwell and Bob Glick

January 2015: What Refugees Leave Behind by Wendy Cheeks

December 2014: Welcoming Week in Atlanta by Emily Pelton

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