Celebrating the contributions of migrants: International Migrants Day

Giving By Emily Larson December 10, 2020

In 1990, the United Nations adopted a resolution to protect the rights of migrant workers and their families. Every year on December 18th, we celebrate this decision along with the contributions made by the over 272 million migrants around the world.

In our 20-year history, The Western Union Foundation has had a strong focus on supporting migrant-related causes. Through our work and partnerships, we’ve been able to aid in changing the perceptions of migrants as well as providing educational and career development opportunities to people starting a life in a new country. We understand the enormous positive impact that migrants have not only economically and culturally on their new home, but also the contributions they make to the ones they love back home and the world in general. That’s why we want to celebrate them and their dedication.

Meet some of the amazing individuals we’ve had the pleasure of working with so you can hear their stories:

Angel, El Salvador to United States

“What most immigrants want is hard work, being able to be a good neighbor and a good citizen. We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Angel recently migrated to the U.S. from El Salvador. He came to be reunited with his parents, who had received green cards to come to the U.S. years prior, and to find new professional opportunities to put his bachelor’s degree to use. He currently works at the IT help desk at the San Francisco Airport. In addition to helping to provide for his parents and contributing his experience and skills in a high-demand sector in the U.S, Angel has family in El Salvador and looks forward to being able to provide for them. Through one of our partners, Upwardly Global Angel accessed a coach who helped him navigate the U.S. job market, build his professional network, and take courses to receive industry-recognized tech certifications for the tech sector. To date, Upwardly Global has supported more than 18,000 college-educated, work-authorized immigrant professionals like Angel in fully contributing their skills to the U.S. workforce.

“You must be ready to work hard if you come to the US. Besides working hard, you need to have an open mind and open eyes. Have your eyes open for these opportunities and to meet the right people.”

Yifan, China to Australia

“Be bold, meet challenges, don’t be afraid. You’ll gain strength, you’ll gain courage, you’ll gain experience. When you stop to look fear in the face you’ll become more confident and you’ll be able to give back.”

Yifan moved from China to Australia in 2015 to attend university. She participated in The Watson Institute semester accelerator program in 2019.  Her passion for cross-cultural communications and encountering diverse perspectives is what has motivated her on her journey. While working on her studies, she saw how fortunate she and the Australian girls were. It inspired her to give back to her community in China and support rural Chinese girls to continue higher education. Later, she founded the Australia China Youth Association Women’s Network to increase women’s self-awareness and confidence, and inspire young women to become global leaders.

“Women often underestimate themselves. They shape better futures for their family, communities, nations, and the world.  I want to help women and girls see the potential they have and the possibilities waiting for them.”

Paula, Colombia to United States

“I grew up always having a roof over my head and food at my table, but so many people around me did not. I believe everyone deserves this basic sense of security and can look forward to a future filled with opportunity.”

Paula, also a The Watson Institute alumni, moved to Florida three years ago to attend university before she recently moved to Colorado to continue her studies. Originally from Colombia, she is studying mechanical engineering and social entrepreneurship with the hope of aiding underserved communities. Despite being so far from home, she stays connected to family and friends. In addition, she founded the NPO SWEET, which helps to provide community development and water distribution equipment in her native country.

“I’m inspired by people’s resilience in the face of adversity, but also outraged by the injustices many endure, so I’m working in bringing security to vulnerable communities, but this looks very different for everyone!”

Night Jean, Congo to United States

“When we came to the US, our community helped us. I chose to work with refugees because I want them to know they are not alone.“

Night Jean moved from the Congo to the United States with his mother as refugees in 2014, after 7 years of waiting. He faced many challenges, but overcame them and through his experience decided to help fellow young refugees who recently arrived in America in their effort to integrate. He was selected by Plan International USA as a Youth Advisory Board member which allowed him to make a difference on both the national and international level advocating for youth like himself.

“Keep persevering, keep working hard and inspiring people around you. Look what other refugees have accomplished.“

Jorge, Venezuela to United States

“Life and progress happen in leaps. Growth and progress do not occur in a linear path. Understand there are times you might feel stagnant. This is momentary and part of the process.”

Now Director of Programs for The Watson Institute, Jorge migrated to the US from Venezuela in 1999. He had to overcome the language barrier when moving to the US and understands how difficult it can be for people to come to a new county without a support network. His work at Watson Institute helps him serve as a vehicle to inspire people from diverse backgrounds that may be experiencing the same hurdles he faced as an immigrant.

“Surround yourself with people who challenge you, people you will learn from. There is no such thing as learning on your own.”

Global Scholarship Winners

The Foundation recently awarded 25 scholarships to international students impacted by COVID-19, so they could continue their higher education. Read more about some of the winners here.

Learn more about the Western Union Foundation’s efforts around the world, and follow us on Twitter (@TheWUFoundation) for the latest news.