Celebrating New Americans

July Thought Leader

My name is Yotin Srivanjarean and I was born and raised in a small town close to the floating market area called Paktho in the city of Ratchaburi, Thailand. I started helping my family’s business selling food when I was 10 years old. For a better education, I had an opportunity to attend high school near Bangkok. I went to college in Bangkok and got an undergraduate degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. During my college years, I worked as a server and a cashier to earn income. Once I graduated, I started working at a newspaper as a reporter and columnist. While traveling and covering a variety of stories as a journalist, I discovered a passion for non-profit and community-based organizations.

I came to the U.S. for school, hoping to improve my language skills. I wound up attending graduate school to fulfill my dream of working at a non-profit organization. I’ve lived in the U.S. for 25 years, but I became a citizen in 2012. Fortunately the process was smooth for me due to my employment status and additional help from my attorney. However, like many other immigrants and refugees I went through a very lengthy process. There was a background check, health screening, language skills test, and a citizenship test.

Despite the rigorous process, it was important to me to become a citizen because it gave me a sense of belonging. Plus, being a citizen gave me a variety of privileges that were important to me and improved my life. I have loved participating in democratic elections to vote for my candidate of choice in local, state, and federal elections. Another privelege I enjoy is not having any travel restrictions (travel time during a given year is restricted for non-citizens) and now I can seek help and protection from U.S. embassies and consulates abroad when I travel. I still feel a strong connection to Thailand, my country of origin. But U.S. citizenship doesn’t mean losing your heritage. In fact, many countries even allow dual citizenship so that you can maintain your status both in your home country and the U.S.

As an immigrant, working at New AP has been a dream come true. New American Pathways has continued to rise and fulfill the mission of Helping Refugees and Georgia Thrive. I admire the philosophy around the mission. New AP helps refugees and immigrants in metro Atlanta to become successful, contributing, and welcomed members of Georgia’s communities by providing services to support them on their individual pathways from arrival through citizenship. They do this with programs that focus on four key milestones along the pathway – Safety & Stability, Self-Sufficiency, Success, and Service. The best part about working here is the amazing staff I get to collaborate with every day. They are passionate about helping people in need and finding opportunities for refugees and immigrants to succeed. When I became a citizen I wanted to do my best to contribute to society and give back to my community. I feel that my work at New AP allows me to contribute in the most meaningful way possible.