As our company looks forward to celebrating our 75th anniversary (13 March 2009) I am reflecting on our journey – considering where we came from as well as where we are going (and all those glorious points in between).
One facet of this company that I am intrigued by is the refugee population of Utica, NY, our global headquarters.
Utica, NY USA was founded by immigrants and populated by refugees. In fact, wave after wave of refugees and immigrants have replenished and bolstered our region from the beginning. Utica is the home of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees – I served on their board of directors for a few years. This organization is very successful in the way that it embraces and enables newcomers to our area.
This was said by Assistant Secretary Sauerbrey about Utica during the opening ceremony of the United Nations High Commission of Refugees executive committee in 2006:
I can cite one city in New York, Utica, New York, which has been called "The City That Loves Refugees." Utica, New York was a city that lost a military base. Large manufacturers had been moving out. And the city was really in decline and welcomed in the early stages of our resettlement program, welcomed refugees from the Balkans, from Somalia, from Sudan, from really all over the world from the areas that we settle refugees from, and has become the quintessential American melting pot.
The result has been a phenomenal rebirth of the city. Refugees that came with nothing, with no education, that were able to get their education, refugees that started businesses and are now helping to rebuild the economy of the city. This is the attitude that Americans have to the refugee situation: that these are people who come to our country and want to become Americans, who embrace the American dream, the opportunities that America provides, for their children to get an education, for them to save, if they work hard, to invest, to build businesses, and to build not only better lives for themselves but to better the communities in which they find themselves.
I think this is the example, the whole basis of our resettlement efforts, that we can provide as a solution to those countries that still see refugees as a problem, not an opportunity.
According to a report from GlobalYouthUnite, Utica, "has the fourth highest density of refugees in the U.S. (Wilkinson). With over 11,000 refugees from Afghanistan, Vietnam, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Former Soviet Union, Lithuania, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kosovo, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Burma, Poland, Romania, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, and Yugosalvia, Utica is truly a global community (MVRCR)."
I have found that living in Utica is very enriching – especially because of the these many cultures. My children have grown up surrounded by people from Vietnam, Bosnia, Cambodia, Somalia, and more. I ride motorcycles with these people, play soccer with them, work professionally with them, learn from them, attend hockey games with them, worship with them, and mourn with them. I was proud to see dear friends of mine, Saram and Synath Buth, featured in a refugee-related article in the Reader's Digest. We've shared meals together, birthdays, and most recently, the birth of their beautiful granddaughter.
I am thankful for this Utica experience as it has made my professional world travels a bit easier and a lot more rewarding.
Indium finds itself, today, immersed in a global village. Interestingly, it started there 75 years ago, amongst Utica's early-1900s Italian, Polish, and Irish immigrants. Our company has matured in the city's late-1900s/early-2000s influx of Africans, Eastern Europeans, and Asians. Our global corporate expansion is a tribute to the diversity offered by our home town, Utica, NY.
I am proud of Indium Corporation, of the Utica region, and of my global teammates. Together we have created a strong and meaningful organization that serves the global electronics assembly market – all starting from a humble city of refugees.
Image source: pbs.org website