|During the Communist usurpation of Eastern Europe after World War II, my parents fled Lithuania (first by wagon, then by train, and finally by foot), together with their three young children. They traveled through Poland and eventually sought haven at a displaced persons camp in Hanau, Germany. After health screenings and numerous immunizations (which I still recall vividly) and getting a sponsor, they arrived in New York in late 1949. Almost to the day, five years later, they became naturalized citizens.
Because they knew no English, my father was a laborer at a sugar refinery, and my mother spent most of her life in Bostonâ€™s sweatshops. I grew up in South Boston, in a low-income and primarily blue-collar Lithuanian enclave. Until college, my brothers and I (like my friends) were active in numerous Lithuanian organizations and youth groups that provided a strong sense of community but also considerable social control. I am bilingual, bicultural, and very empathetic of recent immigrants who struggle to survive.
Iâ€™ve been a full-time college professor for nearly 35 years. During most of these years, I taught 8 courses each academic year, presented papers at professional sociology conferences and community groups, served on and chaired hundreds of committees, advised students, and mentored them informally. During these years, my husband I raised two children who are now young adults. I recently decided to retire early to devote all of my time to research and writing.