Upwardly Global's 2011 Passport to Possibilities Exhibit


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Photography exhibit from Upwardly Global's 2011 Passport to Possibilities Awards & Gala. These images share stories of the many skilled, work-authorized refugees, immigrants and asylees that Upwardly Global moves from poverty into the professional workforce each year.

The exhibit explores the concept of “brain waste” in the United States, highlighting the importance of global talent by artistically juxtaposing skilled new Americans’ professional careers with the under- or unemployment they often experience in the United States. Ultimately, the photographs are honest and moving portrayals of the journeys made to America from across the world, relating stories of courage, resilience and success.

Photography by Christina Noël. www.christinanoel.us

Learn more about Upwardly Global at www.upwardlyglobal.org

Published in: Art & Photos, Technology, Business
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Upwardly Global's 2011 Passport to Possibilities Exhibit

  1. 1. Upwardly Global’s 2011 Passport to Possibilities Awards & Gala Photography ExhibitExhibit
  2. 2. Munara applied for asylum after her Attending every workshop she could,arrival and began driving a taxi to support shaping her resume, developing herherself and her child. For the first year she network, she learned the ins and outs ofdrove, she was embarrassed to tell anyone the U.S. job market, all while driving longthat this was how she made her living. hours in her taxi.Often, former students visiting the U.S.wanted to see her, but she was too UpGlo staff and volunteers helped herashamed to tell them that this was the bridge the cultural gap and supported andonly job she could have. motivated her. Soon, Munara landed a job as a medical interpreter with HealthcareAlthough she had been granted asylum Language Services. Quickly recognized forand now enjoyed freedoms that women in her hard work and versatile skill set, sheher country did not have, Munara was was promoted to Operations Manager.unsure of how to accomplish her dreamsin the U.S. Munara now lives a life that she had envied before coming to the States: a lifeWhen an acquaintance from a refugee where women can do anything, cangroup mentioned Upwardly Global, express themselves, and be confident. HerMunara joined the program. life is completely different, she is stronger, more self-assured, and a role model for her daughter and other women across the globe.
  3. 3. That is also what drove Chengetayi to He knew going in that he was at acome to the United States—to create a disadvantage—he had recentlybetter life for his family. While working immigrated and his work experience wasat his PR firm in South Africa, he in another country.collaborated with a team of studentsfrom the Medill School of Journalism at So he decided to take a survival job as aNorthwestern University. restaurant host at the Conrad Hotel. But his goal is to get back into marketing. HeAfter working with them, he knew enrolled in Upwardly Global’s program andChicago was where he wanted to be—a has been developing his job search andplace where he would find his next professional networking skills.intellectual challenge and a place wherehe and his family wouldn’t experience Chenge doesn’t see himself as andiscrimination for being Zimbabwean. immigrant victim of a poor economy but as a crucial part of the solution. Having been granted asylum only last year, he has madeBut professionally, his transition was great strides towards rebuilding his life andmuch more difficult than expected. He career after a journey filled with manytried to enter the marketing industry at emotional highs and lows.the worst possible time, in 2008.
  4. 4. Still, Gabriela was unfulfilled. She found This month, Gabriela happily celebratedsomething online related to Upwardly her one-year anniversary with theGlobal Chicago. Excited about her organization, where she works in the PRdiscovery, she emailed the office and in and communications area.less than a month was participating inUpwardly Global’s workshops. A benefit that Gabriela did not expect was that she started observing the“Being with people going through the world and life differently, now that shesame situation was very powerful for has lived on two separate continentsme—it revived me.” and experienced two distinct cultures.At one of the Upwardly Global events, She is happy in Chicago—she loves herGabriela met a PR professional who job, and she has made many newhelped steer her thinking towards friends through the workplace andcareer opportunities where she could through Upwardly Global. She foundleverage her Latin American roots. mostly similarities between Brazil andShortly after, Upwardly Global the U.S., but still there were a fewconnected her with Rotary differences, especially here in theInternational. Midwest. “The first time I heard a tornado warning, I didn’t know what to do!”
  5. 5. Her husband came to her rescue and Elena submitted her resume, and, surefound free ESL classes for her to attend. enough, she was invited in for anElena enrolled and started going four interview.times a week, five hours a day. WhileElena enjoyed the chance to improve In December 2011, Elena will celebrateher English skills, she also really loved her one-year anniversary with thebeing out among people. “I found company. She loves her job: “it isfriends there—really good friends.” unbelievable how friendly and understanding people are.”Elena learned of Upwardly Globalthrough her ESL teacher at Truman Prior to moving to Chicago three yearsCollege. Excited about the possibility of ago, Elena had never traveled abroad.returning to work in office She met her now-husband when he wasmanagement, the career she had left visiting his mother in St. Petersburg;behind in Russia, she started attending Andrew had moved from Russia to thethe various workshops and events. U.S. several years prior. Elena found it was impossible to get a visa to visitLarisa, a fellow job seeker she met, told Andrew in the U.S. so, her first trip washer about an Office Manager position the “big move.” Elena loves living inwith Promet Solutions, a software Chicago; she loves the people, thedevelopment company. positive attitude, and the independence.
  6. 6. An entrepreneur and Management This is fulfilling while he works withConsultant in Chile, Francisco soon Upwardly Global to regain hislearned how different a job search in professional life in a U.S. business.the U.S. would be. Without knowingthat he would need to market himself There are many things Franciscoto employers, and no longer having his misses about Chile: visiting the oceanstrongest skill—his command of his and mountains in the same day, gazingnative language and incredible at the evening stars, and the vintagecommunication skills, Francisco was bicycle he rode in Santiago that is stillunsure of how to get started. waiting to be shipped to him.So he has created fulfilling survival But he faces the future with optimismjobs for himself. He began coaching and excitement. The definition ofsoccer, and suggested yoga as an success for Francisco is to wake upexcellent activity for the students as every day enjoying the love that hewell; he is now a yoga instructor for and his wife have for one another, as1st- through 5th-grade students. The they await the birth of their first child.response from students and parentshas been tremendously positive.
  7. 7. Upon arriving in America, Lourdes She is actively interviewing withimmediately faced obstacles in rebuilding healthcare and nonprofit organizations,her medical career. Having completed showcasing her ability to help othersmedical school and residency in a foreign facing their own challenges.country, she is required to go through She is passionate about reentering theextensive and rigorous testing and field to work with abused women, andevaluation in order to get certified in the believes in a holistic approach to medicineUnited States. that emphasizes the emotional well being of patients. She is a good listener,This endeavor requires a lot of sacrifice, compassionate, and has a heart to servethe greatest of which is money, and and change lives.without the necessary resources, she wasfaced with the challenge of finding work Lourdes was finally able to bring her sonoutside of her professional field. from the Dominican Republic and she is now more hopeful than ever—hopefulLourdes came to Upwardly Global in that she will be able to raise her son tosearch of direction. Through networking overcome his fears, maintain his values,events and workshops, she has become and get what he wants in life. She isaware of new ways to work towards her hopeful that she will finally be able togoal of getting back in the medical move back into her role as a doctor andprofession. make a lasting impact on the lives of those in need.
  8. 8. Shwan had begun seeking opportunities “I had no idea what a cover letter was whenabroad after being denied admission to a I was applying to jobs in Cleveland,” admitsmaster’s degree program in his home Shwan. “And my resume wasn’t getting mecountry because he is Kurdish. He thought anywhere.”he was prepared to start over again inanother country. Most importantly, Shwan has been able to network with American professionals andAs part of his three-day orientation to the gain firsthand insight into professional life.United States, he was asked if he was afraid He recently landed a phone interview thatof the challenges. “I had worked with he passed easily. Now, with greater access toAmericans for years,” remembers Shwan. “I employers, he’s learned which technicalwas not afraid because I know myself, I skills he needs to develop to match U.S.know I have years of experience. I have norms.always worked to make progress in myprofessional life.” Shwan makes the best of his survival job at Dunkin’ Donuts by volunteering to assistBut although Shwan was prepared for things with technology projects and enhance histo be difficult, he was sometimes surprised American credentials. Shwan is grateful forby the contrast between American culture the guidance he has received from Upwardlyand Middle Eastern culture. Global and is confident he will achieve his professional goals. Shwan remainsAfter moving to Chicago, Shwan was optimistic. “I knew it would be difficult to re-introduced to Upwardly Global, which he establish myself as a professional here,”credits for developing his American job notes Shwan. “Now I know it will take evensearch skills. Upwardly Global made it easy longer than I first expected, but I trustfor him to polish his resume and master the myself and know I can do it.”art of cover letters.
  9. 9. Eventually, she was faced with a difficult Then she found Upwardly Global andchoice—to stay and keep growing her learned how to open doors that hadcareer, or to follow her heart, marry, and appeared closed.move again. Deciding that all her successwasn’t really success at all without someone Upwardly Global introduced her to Kimto share it with, she moved to the United Taylor, who was starting HealthcareStates. Language Services, a translation and interpretation company. Paola gave Kim herWhen Paola left Chile, she was working with new, improved American resume,one of the largest public hospitals as a interviewed, and secured a position as anconsultant to the Director of Medicine. She interpreter. But it was in this job,believed her high-level skills were going to interpreting the doctor’s words, that shebe appreciated in the U.S. Paola knew that realized how much she wanted to be ashe could not practice as a physician here, practicing physician again.but she assumed that with an MBA andhealthcare experience, there were many So, she began that process and throughthings she could do. networking secured an Observership at the Department of Cardiology at the University ofHowever, she faced barriers she did not Chicago, a step that greatly improves herexpect—how could she get employers to resume for residency applications. Paola hasunderstand her experience and skills? applied to residency, has landed several interviews and will find out in March if she’s secured that crucial step back to her dream.
  10. 10. Photography by: www.christinanoel.usVisit www.upwardlyglobal.orgto learn more about