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Diverse voices shine at the CT Immigrant Day celebration

From left: Milagros Acosta Calderon de la Vega from Peru, Asim Etem, from Romania, Carlos Mouta, from Mozambique, Maninder Randhawa, from India, Haminder Randhawa from India, Leonid Sigal from Russia and Adrian Sylveen Mackiewicz from Poland
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
/
Connecticut Public
From left: Milagros Acosta Calderon de la Vega from Peru, Asim Etem, from Romania, Carlos Mouta, from Mozambique, Maninder Randhawa, from India, Haminder Randhawa from India, Leonid Sigal from Russia and Adrian Sylveen Mackiewicz from Poland

People gathered at the capitol to recognize immigrants from across the state who have made positive and lasting impacts in their community Thursday.

The event, organized by the Connecticut Immigrant and Refugee Coalition (CIRC), honored restaurateurs, a postal employee with over 30 years of service, an orchestral conductor, and others.

“The prestigious Immigrant Day awards, along with three special Memorial awards, symbolize our collective gratitude and respect for those who have come from afar to build a better life, not only for themselves, but for all of us” said Alan Tan, a board member for the legislative commission on Women, Children, Seniors, and Equitable Access for All.

Milagros Acosta Calderon de la Vega, originally from Peru, was acknowledged for helping connect Spanish-speaking people to services during the COVID-19 pandemic and for her work as the bilingual senior constituent engagement coordinator at the General Assembly. She said this recognition shows that Connecticut is a welcoming place.

“This is the result of a lot of work and a lot of commitment here in Connecticut,” Acosta Calderon de la Vega said. “You can see the diversity. And I'm very proud of that. I can say that Connecticut welcomes all immigrants. All around the world. Everybody is welcome here in Connecticut.”

Asim Etem, originally a refugee from Romania, was celebrated for his successes as an entrepreneur and his support for cultural diversity.

Carlos Mouta, from Mozambique, was praised for his impactful leadership in Hartford's Parkville neighborhood.

Harinder and Maninder Randhawa, a couple from India, were honored for their entrepreneurial successes and volunteer work in the Indian Sikh Punjabi community.

Leonid Sigal from Russia, the concertmaster of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, was commended for his contributions to Connecticut's musical landscape.

“It has an incredibly deep meaning for me as I can imagine for all my fellow honorees today,” Sigal said. “It signifies a journey that we all probably endured in one way or another.”

Adrian Sylveen Mackiewicz from Poland, a cultural ambassador, was recognized for his significant contributions to the arts in Connecticut.

Werner Oyanadel, vice president of the CIRC, said it was a joyful day.

“But, this recognition is mostly for those immigrants that are U.S. citizens, and that they have contributed to our society in a large way,” Oyanadel said. “Part of the work that we need to do is also the advocacy — supporting HUSKY for immigrants for undocumented immigrants.”

Special awards were also presented, including the Angela R. Andersen Memorial Award honoring Alona Voronova's dedication to refugee and immigrant welfare, particularly Ukrainian refugees.

Dana R. Bucin, the Mistress of Ceremony and Honorary Consul of Romania to Connecticut noted the connection between Romania and Ukraine.

“So as neighbors to Ukraine, we felt responsible in the Romanian community here in Connecticut, to assist Ukrainian Refugees — welcome them to Connecticut, sponsored them to even come here and then employing them in good well-paying jobs so they could integrate in society.”

Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz proudly declared herself the daughter of Polish and Greek immigrants and said that one in four small businesses is owned by an immigrant, contributing $1.8 billion to Connecticut’s economy.

The event concluded with a captivating violin performance by Adrian Sylveen Machiewicz, with a rendition of "Legende."

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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