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Meet Siddika

Siddika is currently doing a service year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Refugee Resettlement office at Catholic Charities New York.

Siddika Degia immigrated to the United States from Gujarat, India...twice. 

Siddika’s family first moved to the United States in 2000 when she was five years old. Her father had a difficult time integrating and finding a job, so he sent his family back to India while he moved to New York City to find better opportunities. Two years later, when Siddika was seven, her father called for the family to join him once again in the United States. 

Friendship and mutual experiences are what helped Siddika fully integrate into American life in the Bronx. “I remember a lot of growing up in India so when I first came here I remember I didn’t like it…at all...but as I made friends, and grew into New York City, and went to school, I slowly became adjusted into New York life.” 

“I think [I started to adjust] when I met a friend who was kind of going through a similar thing that I was. She had just come from Pakistan, was in New York, and didn’t really know much about it. So we were able to kind of stick together through most of it. So that was the first time I think I felt comfortable.” 

Siddika watched her father struggle to find a stable job as an immigrant in the U.S. Her father’s experiences and her own growing up as a Muslim immigrant in New York City led Siddika to pursue a career in immigrant labor rights. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, Siddika decided to kick-start her career in immigrant and refugee resettlement by doing a service year with Catholic Charities USA.

Siddika Degia

Siddika is using her service year to start her career in labor and immigrant rights before going to graduate school to further her education.

Catholic Charities USA is among many national service programs that support immigrants and refugees with employment assistance, teach english lessons for speakers of other languages (ESOL), citizenship classes, help legal permanent residents successfully complete the naturalization process, promote civic engagement, and provide referrals to community resources and interpreting, and much more. 

Many of the programs that provide these services are AmeriCorps VISTA programs. VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America, was enacted by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 to fight the War on Poverty. Providing services to immigrants and refugees has always been a top priority of AmeriCorps VISTA.. 

Siddika is currently doing a service year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Refugee Resettlement office at Catholic Charities New York. She is using her service year to launch her career in labor and immigrant rights before going to graduate school to further her education. She is giving back to the community she immigrated to by helping immigrant and refugee children obtain school supplies and clothing.

 “I think I have a better idea of what immigrants coming to a new country face and how hard it is to integrate so I am able to understand their stories.” 

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