At The Welcoming Center, we celebrate immigrants every day and we are excited to commemorate Immigrant Heritage Month this June. Immigrant Heritage Month is an opportunity to showcase immigrant stories, recognize the contributions of immigrants, and celebrate the strength that diversity brings to the U.S. In honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, The Welcoming Center is highlighting the stories of two participants who have been involved in our programs: Yesid and Stephanie.
Originally from China, Stephanie has been in the U.S. for almost four years. In the past, Stephanie was a participant in Let’s Talk Philly, which was originally an action project created by graduates of The Welcoming Center’s Immigrant Leadership Institute (ILI). Let’s Talk Philly is an organization that provides immigrants from many different backgrounds the opportunity to come together and build community engagement through Conversation Circles, guest speaker events, and more. Additionally, Stephanie has attended other seminars and workshops organized by the Welcoming Center such as Leading Through Your Language and Citizen Immigrant Rights.
Stephanie was motivated to participate in these programs not only as a way to improve her English, but also to build confidence, learn more about immigrant rights, and make friends.
“The Welcoming Center has allowed me to meet new people while I am improving my spoken English in the Conversation Circles. And I have broadened my knowledge about the strength of my bilingual abilities, rethought a new identity in my career and acknowledged my rights and responsibilities as an immigrant through the seminars.”
Yesid is also extensively involved in The Welcoming Center as an entrepreneur, starting his own homemade arepas business with the support of the Global Food Market business incubator program.
Originally from Colombia, Yesid has nearly 25 years of experience in media as a graphic designer. For almost two decades, Yesid was at Al Día News, a print and digital media outlet serving the Latino community in the Philadelphia region. At Al Día, Yesid did impressive work as the publication’s art director (2001-2017), and later, director of creative (2017-2018). For the last three years, Yesid has worked as a graphic designer for Positive Solutions Agency.
Yesid posing with a freshly cooked arepa.
Alongside his work as a graphic designer, Yesid has developed his own business making and selling arepas, called Angel de mi Guarda Philly. As Yesid shared,
“I definitely think that I’m very lucky to be able to work in the two things that I am passionate about, designing and cooking. As an entrepreneur, there are many challenges, but we must focus and always have a clear vision and the steps we must take to move forward.”
Yesid’s next goal is to obtain the necessary licenses in order to sell his products at large supermarkets, Latino stores in the region, and online throughout the country.
“TWC has been very supportive in the process of formalizing my homemade arepas business, giving me the support and tools necessary to take homemade arepas to the next level.”