The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

January 17, 2014

Sharing immigrant stories

What prompts an individual or family to leave their native country?

In Fulton, a focus for many years has been on the Dutch immigration that peaked in the late 1800s and continued until the mid-1950s. Now, the opportunity to learn about other immigrants’ personal experiences is presented.

The first three programs for 2014 will feature six immigrants (two each month) who reside in our community. Did you know that there are Fulton citizens who have emigrated from Africa, Egypt, India, China, Denmark, and Macedonia? Beginning the series on Sunday, Jan. 19, are Anni (Larsen) Johnson and Arzija (Zia) Zendeli.

The Transatlantic crossing in October 1953 almost ended the Larsen family’s venture to attain the American Dream. As the Oslofjord steamship sailed south of Greenland on the way to New York, a hurricane tossed the ship about so violently that its list was within a few degrees of sinking the ship.

Anni (Larsen) Johnson will be a speaker at the Martin House Museum at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, to tell of her family’s experiences as new residents in the United States. She will speak about the sacrifices that immigrants must undergo, and the reasons why Western Europeans decided to strike out and leave family and security for the unknown in the “New World”.

Immigration isn’t always a matter of leaving an oppressive country. For the Larsens, they had woeful memories of the Nazi occupation of their country for five years and wanted to strike out and have the adventure of a lifetime. New jobs, schools, language, foods, and culture awaited the four members of the family. This talk will emphasize the child’s perspective of following the parents’ expectations.

‘Zia’ was born in Kicevo, Macedonia. on June 17, 1970. Her family moved to Austria when she was a small child, but many of her relatives remained in Macedonia. She will share the cultural differences, such as food and multi-generational family living arrangements, experiences in Austria and Macedonia and the adjustments to a new lifestyle in the America. Photos will also be included.

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