a new home

What does “home” mean to you? Was there a moment when the US began to feel like home?

Visitor Voices

  1. My great grandparents arrived in the United States from Russia in the late 1800’s. They were escaping the deadly Russian pogroms that were coming close to town. Once they arrived in the US, they began to sell objects they found on the street. Their business actually took off and they became rich enough to open a store and start a good life!


  2. My wife’s father – Werner ‘Tom’ Angress – is part of the exhibit. He escaped Germany in the nick of time before the terrible atrocities unfolded in the late 1930s. He was blessed to receive help to come to Virginia and work on a farm with other refugees. After that he joined the US military and served with great distinction as a special intelligence officer in the 82nd Airborne. He parachuted in on D-Day and was temporarily lost and captured by the enemy. Through amazing cirumstances he survived and endured to the end of the war – when he miraculously found his mother and two brothers – still alive after hiding in Holland. We are so proud of Tom – and grateful for all he did. His family today has many children and spouses (like me) who cherish his memory when we get together every year for reunions. Tom’s great spirit and humor endures and we remember him in our hearts with tremendous love.

    David MacWilliams

  3. I was born in this country. My grandparents were immigrants from Poland. They came here before the World War. I had heard stories from many immigrants, but this exhibit was incredibly moving. I think it was the first time that I felt incredible gratitude for their choice to come to America. It is because of them that I have had the incredible good fortune to live in this country – a country that people all over the world through so many years dreamed of moving to.

    Ronda Kahn

  4. I came from China, and to me, USA was a new home. It was a place of hardships and such but it was a new home, a new opportunity. My family had been cheated of their land from where I came from and after years, we finally gathered enough money to come here. I feel what I had to go through was the same for many others. The new language, the different people, unfamiliar places. But in the end, we made it. This is a new home, and a place to start a new life. I came here when I was very young but my parents passed me their stories of how we are where we are today. Though we have our ups and downs even now, it is only because life isn’t perfect. But to me, those ups and downs are worth it. This new home gave me the opportunity to have a life my parents always wanted. They do not force me to do things I don’t want to, but instead, they encourage me to live life to the fullest. This was something they did not do. My dad was one of the first people who came to USA among my family. He came here and got some money and soon, little by little, our family was able to make it here. America is a blessed country and I’m glad we came here. This is a place I can proudly call a home, a place I belong to.

    Phemie Chan

  5. My dad was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He grew up in the then impoverished city of Guayanilla. He yearned for education ,dedication, and a future he believed in. He joined the Army in the 1960’s and went to college to become a teacher. He appreciated everything that “Uncle Sam” had given him for his hard work. A future. Finances for college. A home. A career in teaching. And most proud of all, a family. He dedicated his life to teaching children and defending this great country. He’s retired now but he is forever greatful for what America did for him. He is proud to call America his home.

    Roberto Nieves

  6. I’m American and I don’t recommend doing all those things they tell you to do like eating at McDonalds, having guns, and acting dumb. That is not what America is about! These people are just telling you that to get entertainment out of it. It is about being able to be yourself and pursue whatever goals you wanna pursue in life. For example, if you come from a poor family and you have the dream of becoming a successful scientist one day, then you can! Also we share a lot of cultures here.


  7. I have been in New York City just for two weeks. I came to New York because of learning English here. I come form Hong Kong. I will go back to Hong Kong after 5 weeks later. I believed that New York is a great and exciting city. There are a lot of museums and attractions. You can go shopping everyday. I am so busy in New York City. However, I still miss my home and really want to go back to Hong Kong. I believe that home is necessary for everyone. You will feel safe, comfortable and relaxing in your home. Moreover, the most important thing is your family and friends are in your home. There is the love. I really hope everyone in the world could have a home and enjoy the love.

    Yeeling Cheung

  8. Home was my heart.The place where I lived and was cherished until Stalin took it away from me.!!!!!! But then we went to a new place, America.


  9. The word “home” means a lot to me. I was born in China and came to the United States of America at the age of 3. Therefore, I had to adjust to the whole new environment. It took me a couple of years to get used to the new land I was now living in. These first years gave me an undescribably rewarding experience. After these years, America finally felt like a new home for me to be in and live in. Furthermore, I have been here for almost 16 years already.

    Rong Jie (Jacky) Zheng

  10. American born, Connecticut

    My grandfather left southern Italy at age 16 because his mother felt there was nothing for him in Italy except La Cosa Nostra. He never saw his mother again.
    He travelled in steerage for 3 weeks to come to NYC in 1920 where he was welcomed by his brother who had emigrated and settled in Waterbury, CT to work in the factories.

    He married and had 3 daughters. While his children learned Italian, he insisted they speak English, even at home. He studied hard to become an American citizen and demanded his children be Americans because of all the freedom and opportunities the USA gave him.


  11. My mother immigrated here from Colombia in 1983. The amount of obstacles she encountered were unbareable. However, reaching the “American Dream” was all she cared for. She endured 14 days and nights of famine, without a single complaint just so long that she reached America. She passed through countries like Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico on rafts across rivers & oceans or packed in buses with hundreds of other immigrants who shared the same dream. If it was not for her strong will & determination, I would never be where I am today or have the things I am blessed with. Thank you Mom…God Bless.

    Karina Orozco

  12. My parents immigrated here in 1990 from Russia and I talk to them all the time about Russia. They say that it was the worst place in the world and they don’t even like to visit, and the only reason why they do is because of family. Back when they lived there, it was still the Soviet Union. Everyone was communist and you barely had any freedom. My mother once went to the supermarket with my brother and my brother was only 7 years old. The security officers there wanted to recruit him for the army when he was that young. They said he was old enough to begin training and my mom was so close to losing her only son We all live in Kentucky now, and my parents and I are so grateful to be living in America, because truthfully, if they still lived in Russia, a lot of worse things could happen.

    Sonya Kaidanov

  13. In 1912 Michoel Glayzel arrived at Ellis Island, confused and alone.
    His trip took him from a small Shtetl in Ukraine, Zwantchik, via Rumania and Hamburg. Here he no longer was Michoel but Murray Glassman.
    He brought with him a few tools; and as a carpenter in Brooklyn he stood on street corners, trying to earn a living . His is a story repeated many times by Jews from all over. His was a success story that was only possible in the land with “gold in the streets.”

    Morris Glassman

  14. I was not an immigrant coming from Europe or Asia, but having family members who did come in through Ellis Island it is very inspiring and emotional to hear. These people are true heroes and should not be forgotten and this is a great way to remember them!
    In addition, the view from this room is SO beautiful and really helps you connect.

    Logan Grossman

  15. My father arrived here from Russia when he was one and a half. He had no memories of Ellis Island, but he remembers that the day he left. He went on a train with his grandmother. They were on their way to Palatka, Florida to relatives. Both of them had tags attached to their clothing. My father remembered playing with the tags and he thought it was funny that no one understood them! He arrived in America in 1921.

    Sharon Taksler

  16. My father arrived here from Russia when he was one and a half. He had no memories of Ellis Island, but he remembers that the day he left he went on a train with his grandmother. They were on their way to Palatka, Florida to relatives. Both of them had tags attached to their clothing. My father remembered playing with the tags and he thought it was funny that no one understood them!

    Sharon Taksler

  17. We finally found a new home!!!


  18. When my paternal grandparents came to this country, there was no Statue of Liberty. It was 1883 and they came from Odessa, Russia. I greatly appreciate the hardship they endured.

    Susan Morse Ressel

  19. I am very greatful my parents came to this country to enjoy our freedoms and opportunities. God Bless America!

    Leonard Ressel

  20. It’s the journey that gets me to this place today, I am the sum of all my parts….my past, my present and even, to some degree, my future. As I write this…all I think about are my children. I love them and I pray for them.

    Kim Waters

  21. I was born in Germany in 1935. My father was arrested on Kristallnacht and was put into Dachau. When he was released we escaped to Brazil and then to the United States in 1941. It was a terrible time for my family.

    ruth may kissel

  22. I was born in Germany in 1935. My father was arrested on Kristallnacht and was put into Dachau. When he was released we escaped to Brazil and then to the United States. It was a terrible time for my family.

    Ruth May Kissel

  23. New York City has always meant opportunities. I grew up in New Jersey and I could look across the Hudson River from Jersey City and see the skyline. It always drew me in. The beauty and the diversity. There’s never a dull moment in this city.My parents always told me of their arrivals at Ellis Island and to me New York City has always been a second home. Now I live in New York and I couldn’t picture living anywhere else. It will always have my heart and soul.


  24. It was very hard for me to move to a new place. I was 8 years old when I arrived to New York. The year was 2004. I only came with my Dad and my Step Mom. We came to New York because we were having a hard time in Dominican Republic. Our family didn’t have a lot of money. He came over here expecting a better life. Its better because I have more friends and more family.

    Jose Andres Rodriguez, Dominican Republic, 2004

  25. My family from Transylvania came to the US in the 70s after passing through Israel, and Chile. And now here we are in the best country in the world with our children and ourselves contributing to this great country of ours.

    Ivan Schuller

  26. Today would have been my mother’s 80th birthday.

    At age 14, she was taken from her home in Tachova (Hungary) and forcibly transported to Auschwitz. She was there for several months and then “lucky” to be moved to the Reichenbach workcamp, she made radio transmitters to support the German war effort. My mother, Rachel, was eventually liberated from the camps, and then created her first home in Palestine. In 1961, she landed in New York, and eventually called Philadelphia home.

    Despite the unimaginable horrors they faced, my mother and father created a home for our family replete with love and hope and opportunity.

    Jeannette Ickovics
    b. 1963, Philadelphia, PA

    Jeannette Ickovics, Philadelphia, PA

  27. My mother and father were immigrants from Mexico. They were 18 years old and had no job. My mother was pregnant with my older sister Maribel.


  28. I was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, where my great-grandmother was born also. When I was 4 or 5 years old, I moved with my grandmother to New York City on 129th street between Lenox and 5th Avenue. Until my mother found a place to live, I stayed with my grandmother for a long time. When I came to New York City, I was so shocked that New York wasn’t like Virginia. They were really different from each other. Now, I miss Virginia. I think it’s better than New York.

    Jariah Johnson

  29. When my Mom got married, my Mom and Dad came to New York. The first time she saw the Statue of Liberty was when she was 21 years old and she started to cry because she never thought that she would be in New York.


  30. My mother’s grandmother was from Poland. She came to the U.S. to visit her brother who was living in Chicago. It was only supposed to be a short trip, but while she was here, World War I broke out and she couldn’t leave. The U.S. became an accidental new home.

    Sarah Gorney, United States

  31. My mother’s grandfather was born in Russia. When his mother died and after his father remarried, his step-mother kicked him out. He found his way to America where he settled in Buffalo, New York. His brother Jack had gone to a small town in Oklahoma, Stonewall, to escape his debts. But when Jack was called up for service in World War I, someone needed to take over his store. So my great-grandfather took his wife to Stonewall, where they were the only Jews, and they lived there for 30 years.

    Sarah Gorney, United States

  32. When my Russian grandfather, Harry Lifshitz, came to this country at the turn of the twentieth century, he traveled to Rochester, New York to work. He rented a room in a boarding house in a neighborhood where many eastern European Jews resided. He was shown his room in a boarding house by the landlady. After she left he went to put his meager possessions away. As he looked in either the closet or under the bed, (I am not sure which) he found a paper bag. Upon opening the bag he discovered U.S. currency. He immediately went downstairs and handed the bag to the proprietor and explained that this was not his and must have been left behind by the previous boarder.

    The landlady was so impressed by his honesty that she told her neighbor, who happened to have had a lovely young Polish woman renting a room. They felt that these two people would make a proper couple and introduced them to each other.

    And this is how my grandfather Harry Lifshitz, met his bride-to-be, my grandmother, Fannie Goldman Lifshitz.


    Beverly Farber, United States

  33. My father had emigrated three years earlier to prepare the way. When he had saved up enough money, he got an apartment and purchased our plane tickets. The boundaries of my new world were comprised by First to Fifth Avenues one way and Sixty-Fifth to Thirty-Ninth Streets in the other, in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. Beyond those limits I usually did not go, there lived unknown people: Norwegians, Italians and Jews a few avenues up towards Thirteenth Avenue where we sometimes went to shop.

    PS 2 (gone now, replaced by PS1) on Forty-Seventh Streets between Third and Fourth avenues was a beacon pointing out the way I would travel, it represented the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise of New York.


    Jose G. Correa, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1952

  34. My grandparents on my mother’s side came from Poland and Russia. I lived with them for awhile. All I know is that when they came over they swore they would never speak another language other than English. They immediately went to night school and learned English. My grandfather even became a proof reader (in English of course) and a printer. I lived with them for several years and never heard one single word of Russian or Polish. It is sad that I do not know anything about their past. No one ever spoke of it, although my maternal grandmother did say something about the Russian pogroms. Other than that…nothing…nothing about coming here…

    Barbara Rikon Nichols, United States

  35. Whenever, I return from a trip to Israel and I am greeted by immigration officers at JFK saying, “Welcome home” I really do feel at home. Today this is where I live, where I raise my children, and where I work. America is a blessed country and that’s what makes it a special place.

    Dganit Katz-Yefet, Rehovot, Israel, Arrived US 1985

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