“Coming to America, Then and Now” with Marjan Kamali
December 9th, 2017
CARY HALL • SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9TH, 2017 AT 8:00 PM
Note: Tickets are no longer required for admission into lectures.
America has always been a nation of immigrants, but how has the immigrant experience changed over the past fifty years? How can we as a community engage in honest and effective dialogue about the enrichment and estrangement inherent in living in a town with such a breadth of cultural backgrounds? Our panelists of Chinese, German, Indian, Iranian, Japanese, Korean, and Russian heritage will speak to their experience of assimilation, with the goal of showing the many commonalities across all cultures, and how we can learn from one another’s challenges and successes. Author Marjan Kamali will moderate the panel featuring area residents Sunny Chandra , Tatyana Finkelstein, Larry Ho, Susie Lee-Snell, Heidi Singh, and Margie Yamamoto.
Marjan Kamali was born in Turkey to Iranian parents. She holds an MFA in creative writing from New York University and an MBA from Columbia University. Her debut novel, Together Tea, is a 2014 finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award and a Must Read for the Commonwealth. Her work has also been a top finalist in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open and the Asian American Short Story Contest.
Additional Speakers On This Panel:
Margaret Yamamoto is co-president of the New England Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, a national human rights and educational organization. She was born in Los Angeles, California, just three months after the outbreak of World War II. Her father was from Japan and came into the United States illegally during the time of the Asian Exclusion Act. Her mother was born in Hawaii of Japanese immigrant parents. Margie was two months old when her family was removed from their home in California and incarcerated by the Executive Order issued by President Roosevelt that forced 117,000 people of Japanese descent, 2/3 of whom were native born U.S. citizens, into “relocation centers” in remote and desolate areas of California, Idaho, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas. Margie is retired after more than 40 years in the communications and public relations fields. She has worked for WGBH (the Boston PBS television station), Walt Disney Productions, General Electric, and a number of education and healthcare organizations in New York, California and Massachusetts.
Yu-Chi (Larry) Ho came to the US at age 16 from China, alone and without family and friends. He received his undergraduate and graduate education from MIT and Harvard respectively. For over forty years he taught and did research on the Harvard engineering faculty. He is active professionally in numerous capacities, and recipient of numerous awards, including being elected a Life fellow of IEEE, an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and an elected foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Since October 2001, Ho has served as part time chief scientist and chaired professor of the Center of Intelligent and Networked Systems at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He has lived in Lexington for over 50 years and is married to Sophia Ho since 1959. They have three grown children and six grandchildren.
Susie Lee-Snell was born in Seoul, Korea. She first came to the United States at the age of three with her family and then moved back to Korea when she was seven. Two years later she returned to California where she received the rest of her education. Susie ventured to Boston to attend college and remained in the area. She currently lives in Lexington with her husband and three children. Susie is an Allergy Release Technique practitioner, helping people with their allergies. She is also the co-founder and president of the Korean-American Organization of Lexington, KOLex, and a board member of Lexington Youth and Family Services as well as Generations Incorporated.
Tatyana Finkelstein was born in Leningrad, known today as St. Petersburg, Russia, where she taught mathematics for a decade. In 1991, when Russia allowed its citizens to emigrate, she and her mother, the driving force behind the move, arrived in Lynn, MA, where they shared an apartment with her brother who had left Russia earlier. She worked initially for Foundation Health, a contractor for Medicaid in MA, before being hired by Diamond Middle School in Lexington, MA, to teach mathematics, her first teaching position in the United States. Her rigorous approach to teaching math has ignited and nurtured math talent in many students who have gone on to excel in STEM fields. She has remained at Diamond to this day, earning the Mathematical Association of America’s Edyth May Sliffe award for Distinguished Teaching, and serving on the advisory board of the MIT PRIMES program and a counselor in the PROMSYS for Teachers program at Boston University, a summer immersion program for secondary mathematics teachers.
Shaliesh (Sunny) Chandra was born in India, where he completed his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering before immigrating to the United States for graduate studies at Dartmouth in engineering and business. Over the past 20+ years, Sunny has worked in the high tech industry, including executive positions at Cisco, Evidian-Groupe Bull, and Mercer Management Consulting/Oliver Wyman. He currently is a Senior Director at Salesforce, and has lived in Lexington for over 22 years with his wife and two children, and was elected to the Town Meeting in 2017.
Heidi Singh was born in Schwerin in the former East Germany near Hamburg. After graduating from high school, she studied Russian and English at the University of Greifswald, Germany, to become a teacher of foreign languages, completing her studies the same year as the unification of Germany in 1990. She went on to earn a PhD from the University of Greifswald in foreign language teaching methodology. During the second year of her graduate studies, she spent a year at the University of Maryland, College Park where she met her future husband, Harmeet, from India, who was completing his PhD. They decided to build their lives together in the United States, eventually settling in Acton, MA, where they have two children, Meera and Rohan. Today, Heidi is an instructor of German at Boston University and at Showa University Boston. On Saturdays, she also teaches German at the German Saturday School Boston.