A year and a half ago, I arrived to Lansing (and Michigan) for the very first time. It was a cool August evening, and my husband and I had just driven 15 hours from North Carolina with two restless cats and all our belongings piled into a Uhaul truck. It was dusk and the State Capitol was a dark silhouette in the distance. In an effort to familiarize ourselves with the neighborhood, we drove through Old Town, where I was immediately charmed by the giant popcorn box adorning the entrance of Cravings and the colors emanating from Pablo’s Mexican Restaurant. I looked up at the building that would soon be my work home on Turner Street and wondered what the next few months would bring.
There were several discoveries I made about Michigan in those first few months. I remember the terrifying moment I learned what a Michigan left turn was, and the time I realized that Meijer was not in fact pronounced “major.” “Pop” is soda and Pączki (pronounced POON-SHKI) are delicious Polish donuts enjoyed especially on “Fat Tuesday.” I also quickly learned that the politics of shades of blue (Carolina or Duke) were non-existent. It was either go green or go home.
Most of all, I remember how it felt to befriend my colleagues in those early months. It was easy. They are the kindest and funniest bunch of people you’ll ever meet (and are currently hiring!). They strung fairy lights across my cubicle in the middle of winter declaring “hygge!” to keep the seasonal gloominess at bay, and continually filled the office kitchen with delicious baked goods to cheer up the team when work got tough.
As my time at the League comes to a close, I’m holding a lot of emotions. Gratitude is a big one. Over the past 18 months, my colleagues gave me a platform to share research and my story to advocate for positive policy changes, especially in the realm of immigration policy. They and the community partners I’ve worked with on various issues will carry that work forward and I’m so excited to see what’s in store for them in the future. My next step? I’ll just be a stone throw away in North Carolina working at NC Child, the state’s Kids Count Project, as the Children’s Environmental Health Program Associate (keep in touch!)
Have you been keeping up with our work on immigration? Here are a few highlights from the past year that I’d like to share with you:
- Building a thriving Main Street: Charting success for Michigan’s immigrant entrepreneurs
- Fact sheets: Immigrants in Michigan by County and City
- Big Macs and American Dreams
- The Dangerous Chilling Effect of the Proposed Public Charge Rule
- The Benefits of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on Immigrants in Michigan
- It’s not too late to join our Protecting Immigrant Families campaign! Join today.
Want to keep in touch? You can reach me on twitter (@vikkicrouse) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care, Michiganders! Thank you for warmly adopting this Southerner for a short while.