Mrs. Gaudet is an undocumented immigrant from Indonesia. In the early 2000’s, after fearing racial and religious persecution, her family left Indonesia for the United States looking for a better life. They decided to settle in Philadelphia. Felly attended Philadelphia public schools where she excelled as a student while having to hide the fact that she was an undocumented immigrant She attended Furness High School where she graduated where she graduated as valedictorian. She started college but soon dropped out because of the cost of tuition. She now lives in New York State with a child attending a local community college completing a 2-year radiology program.
When asked why her family left Indonesia in the first place. “There has always been a conflict in Indonesia between Chinese Indonesians and the Native Indonesians...” she responded. “...and there is also conflict between Christians and Muslims. I myself and my family is the the Chinese Indonesians and the Christians so our family has always been targeted in Indonesia.” I was surprised. I couldn’t imagine a United States where Christians were targeted but for Felly that was just life growing up in Indonesia. As we continued to talk, I came to find out that Mrs. Gaudet didn’t come to the United States once, but twice. In the early 2000’s, Felly, her sisters, and her mother tried to go through Hawaii Immigration but failed and had a 8 to 10 year ban from the United States. While being held in Immigrant, Mrs. Felly and her experienced basic human rights taken away from her. “They would not let us sleep. They would not let us eat.”
When the Gaudet’s arrived back in Indonesia, they felt the same pressures that they were once trying to escape. Hiding and moving from house to house almost every month was just the routine for her, her mother, and siblings. One day her mother could not take it any more. So in 2003, Felly’s mother made the decision to try to get into the United States once again. “The only way we would have been able to enter the country again is by having a fake identity.” So her brought the necessary paperwork. This came with new names, birthdays, and passports. The Mrs. Gaudet I was talking wasn’t the same person she was when in Indonesia. She started a new life so that she could live a better one.
We continued to talk about her life when she settled in Philadelphia. We talked about life growing up in the city and going to school in the public school system. We talked about how she wouldn’t tell anyone that she was undocumented because she was afraid. As we concluded our talk, I asked her if she wanted to add anything else to before we went our separate ways. She said “ Stop listening to what the media tells you or what the government officials tell you. Do your own research. Educate yourself. Undocumented Immigrants are willing to serve the country. Are willing to serve their communities by police officer or firefighter. There is nothing more patriotic than that. There is nothing more patriotic than wanting to protect your city or country.”
Mrs. Gaudet was the first undocumented (at least to my knowledge) that I have ever talked to. I was surprised by how much she opened up to me about her life story and how much she was willing to expose herself to someone she has never met let alone seen to show that undocumented immigrants are just like you and I. As the conversation continued and I listen to her talk more and more about her story, I could tell that being an undocumented immigrant was not something that she not proud of but something she now embraced. To me, that was powerful. It was a part of her and she wasn’t afraid of showing that part of her.
While Mrs. Gaudet was brought here with her family when she was a child, she is just one of the millions of undocumented immigrants that came here to the United States looking for a better life for themselves and their family. The United States has always been called the “Land of Opportunity” but today we refuse to give millions of people the opportunity to become citizens and members of our society. That must change soon.
The whole interview is here
Senior at Science leadership Academy
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