Cristian Cedacero ’12 was featured in “The Bigger Picture,” a recurring segment in the Finger Lakes Times authored by Times photographer Spencer Tulis. Cedacero is currently an intern with the publication. Tulis noted he emigrated from Ecuador to New York City when he was 12, following his mother who moved to the U.S. when he was 6. Arriving in New York and learning English as a second language in school, Tulis notes:
“It’s pretty amazing to think that Cristian overcame so many cultural obstacles to ultimately graduate high school on time.”
On campus, Cedacero is active with project Nur, a student organization that shares the perspective of Muslims and the religion of Islam through the use of media, discussions and forums. He also volunteers at a local church for a community lunch program, as well as at the Living Center, a local nursing home associated with Geneva General Hospital. Cedacero is working toward attaining his Leadership Certificate, the result of finishing a program that is offered by the HWS Centennial Center for Leadership.
In the summer of 2010, Cedacero helped establish a worker education center in nearby Lyons, N.Y., as part of an internship through the HWS Office of Intercultural Affairs, will work for the Rural and Migrant Ministry.
The full article follows.
The Finger Lakes Times
The Bigger Picture
Spencer Tulis • February 28, 2012
Epluribus unum first appeared on the Seal of the United States in 1782. It translates from Latin as “out of many, one.”
It’s an extension of one of the basic principles upon which our nation was founded – embracing those from other places who come here as honest, hard-working people in search of the American Dream.
What seems to have been lost in recent decades is the concept that once here it is important that newcomers learn and embrace our civic culture and political institutions. It is also imperative to learn English in an effort to form that one nation of many people.
With this process of assimilation, generally, a common national sentiment should exist. But does it? Watch the Republican presidential debates on television, read a daily newspaper or listen to, in particular, the often argued issues concerning immigration and decide for yourself.
I want to introduce you to Cristian Cedacero, a Hobart College senior who is interning in the Times’ newsroom this semester. Born near Deleg, Ecuador, he and his family lived in a rural area and survived on the vegetables they grew and sold.
His grandfather was the first to make his way to America, originally settling in Chicago before heading east to New York City. His purpose was the same as millions before him – the opportunity for a better life. Only two generations back, my own family on my mother’s side emigrated from Russia for the same reason. Think within your own family tree and the majority of you may find similar situations from other places throughout the world.
When Cristian was 6, his mom emigrated from Ecuador to New York City, leaving him in the care of neighbors. It wasn’t until he was 12 that he was fully reunited with his mom.
Cristian didn’t know a word of English when he came to the United States and admits to a bit of culture shock. Imagine one day living in rural South America and days later living in the heart of the Bronx.
Luckily, other minorities lived in the area who also spoke Spanish, and as soon as Cristian entered school, he was enrolled in ESL (English as a Second Language) classes.
Cristian spent his final three years of high school on Long Island, where his family had moved. By then, it included three half-brothers along with a stepfather. They enjoyed few luxuries but compared to Ecuador, he feels, they were not poor.
It’s pretty amazing to think that Cristian overcame so many cultural obstacles to ultimately graduate high school on time.
Through his guidance counselor he learned about Hobart College. This May, Cristian will become the first in his family to obtain a four-year college degree, in this case a bachelor’s in sociology with a minor in international relations. He is actively involved with many committees, including the Day of Service, Seneca7 Race and Project Nur. His plans after graduation? They are still up in the air, but they could include the Peace Corps, Teach for America or teaching English for a program based in Spain.
He says his experiences in Geneva have been some of the most remarkable of his life. His semester abroad in South Korea also was amazing, he said. He was last back to Ecuador in 2004, but he says the weather there is about all he misses.
Cristian Cedacero, at age 21, is for me what the concept of immigration in this country is supposed to be about. If you go back to the first few paragraphs of this piece, he easily fits the general parameters set long ago of why we welcome people like him here.