Author Archives: Cara Bell

  1. How to land a job that will sponsor your H-1B visa

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    Applying for a H-1B visa to work legally in the United States can be something of a catch-22—you can’t apply until you have a job lined up with a company willing to sponsor you, but some companies would rather hire someone already authorized to work legally in the United States.

    However, this doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Plenty of companies need people with your talents and will be willing to help you through the visa process.

    To successfully get a H-1B visa, you have to convince a US-based company that what you bring to their business is worth the extra fees, sometimes up to $5,000 or more, to hire you instead of a US citizen.

    This may sound impossible, but we represent companies large and small that believe foreign-born employees are worth the extra expense and paperwork. Companies are willing to invest in you for many factors. You can help them to be more competitive on a global scale and to fill highly specialized positions.

    The H-1B Visa Cap

    The number of H-1B visas granted each year is capped, and in 2018 the H-1B visa cap is 85,000. Receiving a visa is based on a lottery system and the visa is valid for three years. The demand for US visas continues to exceed the supply, so often the cap is filled within a matter of days. But don’t give up—if you have the drive to succeed, and if you prepare by setting goals with actionable timelines, you can create your own destiny in America.

    A good first step is to sign up to receive updates on the H-1B 2018 caps and stay up to date with any changes in the visa sponsorship process, so you know what is expected of you while you are working towards citizenship.

    Visa Employment-Based Preference Categories

    There are various employment-based categories of preference when it comes to applying for a visa, dependent on many factors, including your professional specialty and the country you are from.

    The limited number of H-1B visas available each year is first divvied up into the categories and then further divided among certain nationalities. Immigration officials can reconfigure the numbers based on demand. For example, engineers from India may fill up their quota before engineers from Australia.

    Employment First Preference (E1): This category includes professionals with extraordinary abilities, such as world-renowned scientists and researchers, as well as athletes, professors, artists, and business executives.

    Employment Second Preference (E2): This category is made up of professionals with advanced educational degrees, including masters, doctorates, and PhDs.

    Employment Third Preference (E3) The third category is made up of skilled workers and professionals who hold at least a bachelor’s degree or have two years of qualified working experience. This is the most common status of H-1B visa applicants—because of this, it has a longer turnaround process, which could be four years or more.

    Employment Fourth Preference (E4) The immigrants that qualify for this category are considered “certain special immigrants” and receive only 7.1 percent of employment-based immigrant visas. This category involves immigrants who have performed special work for the United States government, and has many subgroups, including NATO civilians, ministers of religion, former employees of the Panama Canal Company, and more.

    Employment Fifth Preference (E5): This category is for immigrants who wish to invest capital for new businesses in the United States.

    Ten Recommendations for a Successful H-1B Job Search

    To give yourself a better chance of H-1B visa success, aim your training and expertise for jobs that are in high demand in the US workforce, like university professors, nurse, physical therapists, and professionals focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

    When you first start looking for jobs, you’ll be able to immediately cross out a lot of companies that don’t accept international applicants. This isn’t about you—it’s about the company culture or the company knowledge of the process. Don’t get discouraged by these companies, because there are many other companies in the United States who are looking to hire someone with your talents and skills.

    Below are some tips to help you search and land jobs with H-1B sponsorship opportunities.

    1. Make your résumé stand out.

    You only have a few seconds to catch your prospective employer’s attention. Your wording needs to sound natural, and the tone needs to be right. Ask an native English speaker to take a look at your résumé to make sure that your choice of words match the position you are applying for.

    2. Tell your story.

    Most applications require a cover letter as well as a résumé. Your cover letter should tell a good story about your journey. This article provides excellent tips on telling your story in an interview setting. For even more tips on how to market yourself, The Global Mingle Party is a great resource.

    3. Research before applying.

    Before you apply for jobs, do your research. Check out the company’s website to get a good idea if they have hired foreign employees before. Even if a company isn’t advertising that they’re hiring, it’s always a good idea to send your résumé to companies that sponsor employees ahead of time. Don’t wait for companies to tell you they’re hiring.

    4. Recruiters are your friend.

    Recruiters and staffing firms can be a great resource for sought-after job openings. Keep in mind that they may also have temporary or freelance positions that aren’t eligible for H-1B sponsorships.

    5. Understand the hiring process.

    Become well-versed in the international hiring process. Some companies may shy away from hiring outside of the United States because they aren’t aware of the process. Explain the process directly, and they may be more willing to offer you a position.  

    6. Use tools on the internet.

    Conduct your job search on websites specifically for visa and H-1B jobs, such as:  

    7. Think small.

    Try targeting lesser known and smaller companies, or companies in rural areas of the United States that are less competitive.

    8. Negotiate.

    When you get a job offer, make sure you can negotiate H-1B sponsorship before you accept. Remember, you’re bringing exceptional skills to the table, so you should be able to negotiate with your potential sponsors.

    9. Try to find H-1B visa cap–exempt opportunities.

    Universities, non-profits, and some hospitals are exempt from the annual H-1B visa cap. However, if you receive a visa through an institution that is exempt from caps, your visa will not be valid if you decide to work somewhere that isn’t exempt from the caps.

    10. Be open to working abroad.

    If a company is hesitant about sponsoring your visa, offer to work remotely from abroad first, or work from one of their overseas offices in your home country. This can help you get a “foot in the door” and show the company your value.


    When Should You Bring Up Sponsoring During the Interview Process?

    If you’ve already filtered your job search by companies that sponsor H-1B visas, then you shouldn’t need to worry. If you decided instead to take a chance at a position that isn’t for international applicants, but that you really want and are exceptionally qualified for, you should be upfront with your interviewer and make them aware by the second round of interviews at the latest, that you need H-1B sponsorship.

    Impress them with your skills and what you bring to the table in the first interview. Convince the company that you are the best person for the position, they’ll be happier to sponsor you.

    Let your interviewers know how much you are enjoying American culture. Share with them your long-term plans to remain in the country by offering where you see yourself in five years at the company. If employers are considering you even though you require sponsorship, they want to know you’ll be committed to staying with the company for a considerable amount of time.


    Landing a job in the United States is a huge step towards becoming a citizen and integrating into American society. By contributing your skills and talents to the American workforce, you are enriching American culture and giving yourself a better future. Immigration can be a stressful numbers game, but it can be made easier if you work for a supportive company willing to offer their resources to help you stay in the US.

    Don’t give up! If you or your new employer need help wading through the H-1B visa process, contact us for a consultation. We’re here to help make your new life in the United States as successful as possible.


  2. Ten TV shows that represent American culture

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    If you’re new to the US, watching television is one of the easiest ways to get to know what kind of people Americans are, what they value, and how they live. Of course, nothing can compare to the real-life conversations you’ll have when you get out into the community and meet people face-to-face—but TV is an accessible introduction to American culture before you make new friends.

    Even though they’re often exaggerated versions of real life, American TV shows can tell you more about the dynamics of everyday life in the US. They can also offer you a glimpse into American core values and traditions. Watching TV shows, you can learn about American family life, workplace dynamics, how to use common phrases, trends in dress, and hot topics of conversation.

    Interested in watching some American TV? Check out our ten favorite shows that represent American people, values, and culture.  

    1. Modern Family

    The title of this show offers a glimpse into what this comedy is all about. “Modern Family” reflects what American families look like today.

    “Modern Family” explores the relationships between different types of American households. We follow the stories of one extended family: Mitchell and Cameron, a gay couple, and their adopted Vietnamese daughter; Phil and Claire, a straight couple, and their three children; and Jay and his second wife Gloria, a Colombian emigrant, and her son Manny, from a previous marriage.

    The show first aired in 2009 and is popular with more conservative Americans. It focuses on how this family interacts with each other, rather than their relationships with the outside world. The show covers many other themes that will help you to understand modern American culture, including technology (it wouldn’t be a modern family without that)  and defining the roles of mothers and fathers in modern-day American society.

    2. Friends

    “Friends” aired on TV for ten years, beginning in 1994—and it continues to be a pop culture phenomenon in America, even 13 years after its last filmed episode. “Friends” has inspired trends in clothing, hairstyles, and even some slang words. It probably wouldn’t be going too far to say that the show has even changed the way Americans interact with each other.

    “Friends” follows the friendships of six 20-something New Yorkers. While most TV shows up to this time focused on family life, this show is about friendships—it shows that a group of friends can be a family.

    Where older American TV shows often end each episode with a moral lesson, “Friends” instead focuses on the daily life of the characters. Instead of  concentrating on topics like race, class or other big issues, the episodes center on the dynamics of friendship.

    Years after the show ended, you can still say famous phrases from the show, like, “We were on a break!”, “How you doin’?”, and “Oh. My. God.” Americans will know that you’re referencing “Friends”. Of course, the last two phrases will only work if you say them in the characters’ voices—you’ll just have to watch the show to hear them firsthand.  

    3. Full House

    “Full House” was a staple of many households’ TV viewing in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The show is still popular to this day— it inspired a reboot in 2016 called “Fuller House”.

    “Full House” centers on Danny Tanner and his family. After the death of his wife, Danny is struggling to raise his three young daughters, so he enlists the help of his best friend, Joey, and Danny’s brother-in-law, Jesse. This living situation is supposed to be temporary, but it ends up becoming long-term, and Joey and Jesse become like second fathers to the three girls.

    The show was a major influence on American pop culture when it originally aired. “Full House” represents society’s transition from a conventional family structure to less traditional families—or, perhaps, more realistic families. It also had some pretty memorable catch phrases, like, “You got it, dude,” “How rude!”, “Oh, Mylanta!”, and “Cut. It. Out.” But don’t try to say these phrases now—the show ended in 1995, so they’re not quite as well-known anymore.

    4. Parks and Recreation

    “Parks and Rec” (as it’s abbreviated) ran for seven years, starting in 2009. While the show is full of laughs, it also gives you a glimpse inside a section of American government on a tiny scale.

    This show is based around the rising career of Leslie Knope, an overly positive, mid-level government employee in the Parks Department of Pawnee, a fictional town in Indiana. Using the setting of the Parks Department, “Parks and Rec” tackles current-day American issues such as advancement of women in the workplace, political activism, and anti-corporate sentiments in a funny way.

    Watching the show, you’ll become acquainted with cultural slang words and the American sense of humor as Leslie and the other Pawnee government employees react to the daily and sometimes mundane tasks of running the Parks Department.

    5. Seinfeld

    This comedy was voted the greatest show of all time in 2002 by the American magazine TV Guide. “Seinfeld” ran for nine years, starting in 1989, and is a good representation of the type of humor Americans find in everyday city life. It makes light of topics such as traffic, crime, American holidays, and the kind of people you encounter in New York City.

    Famous for being a show about nothing, “Seinfeld” is named after the main actor, Jerry Seinfeld, who plays a fictionalized version of himself on the show. The other characters are based on Seinfeld’s friends and the people he met in real life. This is part of what makes “Seinfeld” so popular in the US—each of the show’s characters has so much personality that Americans can’t help but see a little of themselves in each of them. It makes the show relatable even though it ended 15 years ago.

    6. Roseanne

    This show was a big deal for being the first of its kind to realistically portray a working-class American family and the issues they faced.

    “Roseanne”, like “Seinfeld”, is named after its leading actor, Roseanne Barr. Roseanne’s fictional version of herself is loud, abrasive, and blunt—but she also shows a loving, realistic, and funny portrayal of family.

    The show aired from 1988 to 1997, and deals with common themes of parents trying to juggle work and family, and struggling to make money to support three children. One of the factors that makes “Roseanne” so popular with Americans is that none of the show’s characters fit into the typical stereotypes so often seen in other TV families.

    The characters in “Roseanne” may remind you of your American neighbors or co-workers, or other people in your daily life.

    7. The Simpsons

    “The Simpsons” is a cartoon series that parodies the American way of life. It makes fun of American culture and what it means to be an American. First aired in 1989, “The Simpsons” is still running, making it the longest running primetime comedy in the US.

    The Simpsons family live in a town called Springfield. The father, Homer, is a blundering safety inspector at a power plant. He is married to Marge, a typical American housewife. They have three children: troublemaker Bart; Lisa, an activist in training; and baby Maggie.

    The people of the fictional town of Springfield share different beliefs, religions, and nationalities. It’s meant to represent the United States as a whole, which provides lots of opportunities for placing the characters in situations that reflect American culture. “The Simpsons” covers issues such as corporate greed, environmentalism, women’s rights, organized religion, and so much more, while still being humorous and sarcastic.

    “The Simpsons” also touches on immigrant issues through the show’s many characters. Moe, of the famous Moe’s Tavern, hides the fact that he’s not American because he’s afraid of being rejected by his American friends and customers. He never shares what country he’s from and goes to great lengths to hide it.

    Another immigrant character, Apu, is an employee of the town’s Kwik-E-Mart. Apu has a PhD in Computer Science from his native country but has to work at a convenience store because he is an undocumented immigrant. Both Moe and Apu feel they have to fake interest in American customs to feel integrated into the American way of life.

    One of the show’s producers says the purpose of “The Simpsons” is to “Get people to re-examine their world, and specifically the authority figures in their world.” That’s a pretty American concept.

    8. Mad Men

    This drama series aired from 2007 to 2015. “Mad Men” follows the lives of executives, management, and lower level employees at an advertising agency in Manhattan during the 1960s. The storylines in the series mostly center on issues of gender, race, sexuality, and class.

    “Mad Men” will show you a tumultuous section of American history—and it will hopefully give you an idea of how far the American people have come, and what we have yet to achieve.

    Throughout the series, you see the characters’ reactions to huge historical events, like President John F Kennedy’s assassination, the first manned moon landing, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, President Nixon’s inauguration, and other major events in American history.

    9. All in the Family

    “All in the Family” has been called one of the most influential shows in American television history. It captures an important point in American history, as the 1960s transition into the 1970s, and as older generations’ views of life clash with the younger, more liberal generations’ ideas.

    The show aired from 1971 to 1979 and is about Archie Bunker and his wife Edith, their daughter Gloria, and her husband Mike.

    The show follows a family struggling to keep up in a rapidly changing world, and uses topics of race, war, sex, politics, immigration, gun control, and women’s rights as major plots.

    Archie is a hot-headed, blue-collar worker who is politically conservative and socially misguided. He often argues with his son-in-law Mike, who is liberal-minded and aware of the concerns of minorities.

    Even though the show originally aired in the 1970s, you’ll be surprised how many of the topics are still being debated in the US today. “All in the Family” will serve you well as a cultural guide to how and why some Americans feel the way they do on social issues—whether they’re justified or not.

    10. The Andy Griffith Show

    A classic American TV show that aired from 1960 to 1968,  “The Andy Griffith Show” is named after the actor who plays the main character, Sheriff Andy Taylor. The sheriff moves to Mayberry, a small town in North Carolina, with his son Opie after the death of his wife. The series is about the sheriff’s interactions with his family and the interesting townspeople.

    This show doesn’t necessarily represent American culture through its storyline—it’s more about the time in American history that the show was aired. Like “Mad Men”, which is set in the same period that “The Andy Griffith Show” was filmed, the 1960s was a period of transition. Americans were dealing with racial discrimination, the women’s liberation movement, war, and other historical events.

    In such a turbulent time, this show offered a break from reality. Centered on a charming small town filled with well-meaning people, its storylines are light, and no problem takes more than a half hour to solve. It shows the disconnect between what Americans were talking about and experiencing in real life versus what American TV shows were portraying during that time.

    “The Andy Griffith Show” is on this list to give you an idea of how Americans sometimes use TV as an escape from serious real-world issues. Although the show did break the mold at the time by portraying a family without a mother, it still featured an idyllic American setting not representative of reality in that time period.

    Watch more American TV shows:

    Good television in the US often reflects American life right back at us, even if it is with a dose of humor. It can often shape opinions on how other people live, or define how you choose to live your life in the US.

    If you’re unfamiliar with these shows, you can still find most of them running on TV, streaming online on Netflix and Hulu or even on YouTube.

    We hope you find this article—and the TV shows you’ll soon be enjoying—useful for learning about American society and Americans. Be sure to let us know in the comments what you think about the TV shows we’ve suggested.

    For more tips on successful integration into American society, check out our blog article Six Tips to Help You Successfully Integrate Into American Society.

  3. The 7 best ethnic grocery stores in Oklahoma City

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    One of the absolute joys of helping immigrants get settled in OKC is telling them about our city’s diverse cultures. You don’t need to go anywhere fancy to experience these cultures—it’s as simple as going shopping. You can see just how diverse and delicious OKC is by visiting its many ethnic grocery stores.

    One of the best ways to bring people from different backgrounds together is by learning about them. At the moment, our country seems more divided than it should be. The more we learn about those who are different from us, the more united OKC can be. Let’s be a model for the rest of the world.

    So, wondering where to go first? We’ve got you covered. Take a look at our summary of the best ethnic grocery stores in OKC, and be sure to let us know if you think we’ve left off any you love!

    Asian Grocery Store: Super Cao Nguyen

    Super Cao Nguyen has the best reputation of any grocery store in OKC. For almost forty years, this family-owned business has been an inspiring example of immigrants achieving the American dream. Offering 55,000 products, Super Cao is one of the highest rated OKC grocery stores on Google.

    Location: 2668 N. Military Ave. in central OKC.

    Super Cao is located in the well-known Asian District just north of Midtown. This district has had a national reputation since the 1970s, when many Vietnamese refugees made OKC their new home.

    Owner: Founded by Tri and Kim Quach Luong, Super Cao is now run by their sons Ba, Hai, and Remy. The store is named after the Cao Nguyen central highlands area of Vietnam. Tri worked two jobs in Arkansas to save enough money to start Super Cao.

    Food and Cultures Represented: The owners are from Vietnam, but they have expanded their store to offer items from many Asian cultures and countries (such as Korea, Japan, and China). You’ll also find items from France, Indonesia, Italy, and the Middle East. In fact, you’re likely to hear 20 different languages spoken by customers on any given day.

    Recently, Edible OKC recommended Super Cao’s Droste cocoa and Pandan coconut waffles made in the store while you shop. You’re unlikely to find a better bowl of pho anywhere in the city, and The Smithsonian Institution also spotlighted Super Cao and others in the district for their banh mi and curried frog legs.

    As The Oklahoman’s Food Dude Dave Cathey wrote, Super Cao “supplies practically every restaurant in the city with pork, fish, or both.” They produce 1,000 baguettes daily, and the grocery boasts of 12 ways to buy fresh fish, such as “head on, gut out, fin on.” Other hard-to-find items include duck balut, Ora King salmon, rice and egg noodles, flowering chives, beech, orange blossom water, and enoki, just to name a few. In addition, Super Cao sells cooking supplies, accent furniture, decorative art pieces, exotic plants, and gifts.

    Fun Facts: Super Cao is a fantastic place in OKC to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Celebrations held outside the store feature fireworks and colorful costumes.

    How to Celebrate Super Cao’s Cultural Tastes: One of the best ways to celebrate OKC’s diverse cultures is to taste the amazing food you can find at stores like Super Cao. On weekends, you’re likely to find Asian street food vendors inside the store. OK Gazette recommended banh bao xá xíu, which are Vietnamese steamed buns filled with pork, chicken, or barbecued pork.

    Other favorites to try are the No. 1 pork banh mi (ham, head cheese, pâté, butter, pickled carrots, daikon, and jalapeno) or the No. 7 (grilled pork, cucumber, and jalapeno). Whatever choice you make, you’ll quickly learn that few groceries can rival Super Cao’s reputation for service and quality.

    Asian Grocery Store: Saigon Taipei Asian Market

    Yet another of the most popular Asian grocery stores in OKC is Saigon Taipei Asian Market. The store recently remodeled, and it now features larger aisles and even more products.

    Location: 1648 SW 89th St. near the Will Rogers World Airport.

    South OKC is one of the more diverse parts of the city, and Saigon Taipei, located just north of the city of Moore, is a great example of that diversity. Saigon Taipei is part of the South Penn Plaza shopping center, which also features Vietnamese, Thai, and Mexican restaurants.

    Owner: Quan Nguyen.

    Food and Cultures Represented: Saigon Taipei offers food from China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, India, and even Africa. The store features a bakery, produce, meat, seafood, and cooking supplies. You can find sweet rice, bok choy, Chinese broccoli, young coconuts, ginger, and rice cookers, among many other items.

    Fun Facts: Saigon Taipei carries green Kit Kat bars, which are green tea–flavored wafers mixed with chocolate. These are incredibly popular in Japan, but there’s no need for a flight around the world to pick up this candy when you can just take a short drive to southwest OKC!

    How to Celebrate Saigon Taipei’s Cultural Tastes: Saigon Taipei is one of OKC’s best places to pick up Thai curries and sushi. You can even find herbal medicines, candles, and unique sodas.

    Middle Eastern Grocery Store: Spices of India

    Just a few miles northwest of Super Cao is Spices of India, one of the most popular Indian grocery stores in OKC. Since 2012, the owners also operate a vegetarian Indian fast food cafe next door, named Rasoi Chaat, which  Oklahoma Gazette named one of seven great Indian restaurants in 2015.

    Location: 3910 NW 39th St. on historic Route 66.

    This diverse part of OKC, which is north of Will Rogers Park, is on the edge of the town of Bethany.

    Owner: Nita and Rajni Patel immigrated to OKC and opened Spices of India nearly 30 years ago. They started with a store of just 1,250 square feet—which is now, according to 405 Magazine, is “the go-to grocers for a second generation of clients, who grew up coming to Spices of India with their parents.”

    Food and Cultures Represented: It’s no surprise that their specialty is Indian food, including exotic produce. The store also offers curries and food from Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries. The Patels see a lot of customers from Britain, too. Spices of India also sells snacks, spices, frozen goods, hair and skincare products, religious items, Indian DVDs and CDs, jewelry, and magazines.

    Fun Facts: Spices of India’s 25,000+ square-foot building was once a famous bowling alley, especially when Route 66 was one of the most popular highways in the country.

    How to Celebrate Spices of India’s Cultural Tastes: One of the best ways to experience Indian food is to buy pani puri at Rasoi. This crunchy bread ball is filled with various ingredients such as potatoes, spices, chickpeas, chutney, and mint leaves. You can also get some great quinoa at what is probably the best price in OKC. Finally, Spices of India has pickled and jarred fruits, vegetables, gourds, and seafood, which pair perfectly with hummus.  

    Latin American Grocery Store: Super Mercados Morelos in Moore and OKC

    No list of best ethnic grocery stores in OKC is complete without Super Mercados Morelos—it’s one of the most beloved Latin American grocery stores in the city. In fact, local foodies argue there is no better place in OKC to get supplies to make fresh, authentic tacos and salsa.

    Location: The oldest and highest rated store is at 621 N. Moore Ave. in Moore, OK, just south of OKC.

    This is another diverse area of OKC, next to the popular Himalayas Aroma of India restaurant.

    Supermercados Morelos also has three other locations in OKC at 4704 NW 23rd St., 4475 NW 50th St., and 1 SE 59th St. Each location was chosen to serve a growing Hispanic population. The first two stores are near Spices of India. The SE 59th St. location is the newest and largest store yet, and is near Saigon Taipei Market.

    Owner: Francisco Ibarra and Manuel Gomez own Supermercados Morelos; their fathers started the company 13 years ago after moving to OKC from Mexico. Members of the Ibarra family (Jose, Sr., Jose Jr., Daniel, Vanessa and Fernando) run the OKC stores while cousins run the Tulsa locations.

    Food and Cultures Represented: Mexico is Supermercados Morelos’ heritage and specialty, but they offer products from across Latin America (including El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras). The store has exotic fruits, vegetables, freshly baked breads and cookies (like pan dulce, marranitos, or empanadas), tacos, tamales, meats, drinks, candy (like Mexican hot chocolate), and supplies like tortilla presses.

    Supermercados Morelos also offers a sit-down carniceria restaurant with a great rating on Yelp. Customers love the store’s carne asada, barbacoa, gorditas, chile rellenos, smoothies, and street tacos, among other dishes.

    Fun Facts: The name ‘Morelos’ is a reference to the Ibarras’ hometown of Morelia (named after Jose Maria Morelos) in the Mexican state of Michoacán. In fact, the Ibarras take pride in their pork carnitas and chicharrones (pork skins), foods that Michoacán is famous for.

    Super Mercados Morelos is also a proud sponsor of OKC’s professional soccer club Energy FC.

    How to Celebrate Super Mercado Morelos Cultural Tastes: It’s hard to go wrong with a dish from the carniceria. Try the shredded beef with roast peppers, onion, rice, and red sauce. You can add toppings like cilantro, too. Since most folks order two meats, be sure to get the chicharrones with green sauce. It’s the pride of Michoacán! Top it off with a Topo Chico mineral water to go.  

    Latin American Grocery Store: Feria Latina Supermarket

    Another one of the most popular ethnic grocery stores in OKC is Feria Latina Supermarket. The store is known for having different promotions each day, and customers can sign up to receive coupons via email. Feria Latina Supermarket also has a highly rated sit-down taqueria restaurant inside the store.

    Location: 4909 NW 23rd St. in the old Windsor Oaks neighborhood south of Bethany.

    This location, north of the state fairgrounds, has become one of OKC’s most diverse areas. Right by a Supermercados Morelos, it’s also not far from Spices of India.

    Owner: Amilcar De Leon is the general director of this store, which was started in 2006 by a group of friends. Their goal was to create the best Latin supermarket in OKC, and now they’re always looking for new products for their growing Hispanic customer base.

    Food and Cultures Represented: Feria Latina offers products from at least 10 Latin American countries, including Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. You’ll find many fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, candy, spices, and freshly baked breads. You can even find products from Africa, and shoppers love Feria Latina’s plantains. You also have to try Feria Latina’s seasonings, like coriander, achiote, and natural fruit boosters by Tijan. The store offers everything you need to make a mean bean dip, too.

    Fun Facts: Customers love Feria Latina’s selection of piñatas. No fiesta should go without one! Be sure to fill it with diverse flavors from the store’s extensive candy aisle.

    How to Celebrate Feria Latina’s Cultural Tastes: Visit around lunch and treat yourself to an amazing and authentic burrito with juicy chicken, rice, beans, and fresh salsa. Pair it with a Fresca sparkling grapefruit soda and a sugary churro for dessert.

    Latin American Grocery Store: Super Mercado Buy for Less

    Buy For Less is an OKC-based chain that has opened Super Mercado Buy For Less, and customers have been praising it for its authentic items. You can find most of Buy for Less Super Mercado’s promotions on their Facebook page.

    Location: 3713 S. Western Ave. in OKC near SW 36th St.

    There are large and small stores around the city, but the most popular and highest-rated location is the Western Ave. store. It’s just south of OKC’s historic and diverse Capitol Hill district.

    Owner: Hank Binkowski started Buy For Less in OKC in 1988. He grew up working in a family restaurant, and his father was a Polish immigrant who was survived detention in a German prison camp.

    Food and Cultures Represented: Super Mercado Buy for Less stores sell food from many countries in Latin America, though Mexican products are among its best sellers. At Super Mercado, you can find freshly baked breads, produce, meat, candy, and a sit-down restaurant.

    Fun Facts: The Western Ave. store is not far from the Oklahoma River and the new Wheeler District, which features the Wheeler Ferris wheel.

    How to Celebrate Super Mercado’s Cultural Tastes: Pick up marinated chicken or shredded beef and pair it with fresh cactus (nopalitos). Grilled nopalitos covered in cheese and green sauce are a delicacy in Mexico. Try it—you won’t be disappointed!

    Mediterranean Grocery Store: Mediterranean Imports and Deli

    For the final entry on our list of best ethnic grocery stores in OKC, we have to mention Mediterranean Imports and Deli. This family-owned grocery opened in 1981 and is OKC’s go-to source for made-from-scratch hummus.

    Location: 5620 N. May Ave. in northwest OKC.

    Mediterranean Imports is near OKC’s historic and diverse Bell Isle area, just north of Interstate 44.

    Owner: Atif Asal and his family know their regulars by name, and he’s always quick with a smile. They enjoy giving back to the OKC community, contributing to events like the Tour de Palate Wine and Culinary Tasting Event to raise money for leukemia research.

    Food and Cultures Represented: The store offers foods from all around the Mediterranean, including olives, Bulgarian or Greek feta, Italian spaghetti, falafel, dried apricots, nuts, bricks of imported cheeses, spices, mangoes, and other groceries. The store is also well known for its popular lunch deli featuring rare meats like lardo with rosemary. Customers love the store’s gyros, olive bar, pasta, coffee, tea, and herbs.

    Fun Facts: Mediterranean Imports sells fresh flatbreads that are four feet long. Local foodies choose this for homemade pizza when cooking for a group.

    How to Celebrate Mediterranean Imports’ Cultural Tastes: It’s a given that you have to eat Mediterranean Imports’ hummus, perfectly paired with pita bread. In addition, you’ll have a difficult time saying no to the store’s beautiful slabs of imported chocolate. In the deli, try the kafta covered in sweet sauce over rice.

    What do you think?

    So, now you know our seven favorite ethnic grocery stores in OKC. These stores represent flavors and cultures from around the globe, helping us in OKC see just how connected we are to the rest of world. And what’s even better is that all of these stores were started by amazing immigrants who chose OKC as the city where they wanted to achieve the American dream. We’re proud to share this great, diverse city with them!

    What’s on your list? Perhaps your favorite is a small, little-known store. We want to hear from you—leave a comment below and tell us what you love most about your favorite ethnic grocery store in OKC.


  4. Share your culture by sharing a meal

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    When you’re new to a country, staying isolated in your own cultural community can be tempting. We encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone by sharing your culture and traditions with your new neighbors. Getting to know more Americans will help you to become a part of America in a meaningful way.

    And what better way to bond with people than through food? Consider inviting some of your new American neighbors, friends, and co-workers into your home to share a meal with your family. This is a relatively simple way to promote understanding between your culture and your new home country.

    When you share a meal, you share your traditions and practices with your guests, opening their eyes to parts of your culture they may not have known about before. Their new understanding of you and your family can help you to fit into your community. Something as simple as hosting a dinner could be the first step in more people realizing that we are all more alike than different.

    It may sound scary to invite complete strangers into your home and cook for them, but lots of people are now doing just that. There are many names for these events: refugee supper clubs, refugee welcome dinners, and diversity dinners. Whatever you want to call it, it still serves the same purpose—to break bread and break down barriers.

    What is a Supper Club?

    Generally, a supper club is a gathering of Americans and immigrants to share a meal together. Typically, the American hosts the meal by providing the location where the meal will be shared, either in a home or an event space. The immigrants bring meals that are representative of their home countries.  

    The dinner guests are a mix of Americans and immigrants who may or may not know each other. Both parties are free to bring guests and are encouraged to speak openly about topics they may not normally discuss.

    There are no rules that say this is how you must run a supper club—this is just to give you a basic idea. As long as you’re sharing a meal with your neighbors and bringing people from other backgrounds together, you can run the supper club however you like. The most important thing is that you are giving the guests an opportunity to experience a part of your culture that may otherwise be unfamiliar to them.

    Start Your Own Supper Club

    The organizations listed above offer some ideas on how to get started with hosting a dinner, but there are no rules—get creative and do it your own way.  

    Inviting your guests

    For your first dinner, it might be a good idea to start small and invite any Americans that you already know, as well as immigrants from other countries. Make sure your guests are aware of the date, time and place.

    Let them know if they can bring anything to contribute to the meal. You could host a “potluck”, which is where everyone brings a meal to share—or you could prepare an entire traditional meal from your country. It’s up to you.

    Etiquette tips

    If you are sharing a meal for the first time with Americans, you may be surprised by some of the common meal etiquette practices of your new American friends. To give you an idea of what is perceived as a “normal” in America, here are some etiquette tips.

    • American place settings usually include a knife, spoon, fork, cup, and either a plate or a bowl, depending on what kind of food is served. Any more than that is usually reserved for special occasions. You don’t need to stick to this place setting for your dinner—in fact, this could be an interesting topic of conversation during your meal if you country typically has different place settings.
    • It is normal and not seen as offensive if a guest has their hands in their lap or on the table between meals.

    • It is normal in the US to eat with whatever hand you write with, compared to the European way of eating with your left hand and cutting with the right. A majority of Americans are right-handed and typically eat with their right hand.

    • Americans are usually taught to eat with the fork tines facing up in their mouths. The European way is to eat with fork tines facing down.

    • Americans often eat each part of the meal individually instead of putting different bits of the meal on their fork at once.

    • Meals in the US are usually served by passing dishes around to each person for them put a portion on their individual plates. It would be unusual to serve one large communal bowl that all members eat from.

    • It is common at restaurants for Americans to ask for a “to-go box” or “doggie bag” to take home the food they weren’t able to finish. It is not meant to be an insult to the cook, most American plates have oversized portions, and leftovers are expected.

    • It is not uncommon in the US, based on personal preferences, to serve alcohol with a meal.

    Even though this is how Americans normally eat, you should serve and enjoy your shared meal as you normally would in your own country. The idea is to give your guests an insider look at how you would share this meal in your culture, although it’s up to you how strictly authentic you want the  meal experience to be. If your tradition allows, playing music from your country in the background could add a nice touch to the event and provide a good topic of conversation.  

    Conversation topics

    If you’re nervous about what to talk about with your guests, here are a few suggested talking points.

    • In your country, is this a meal you would make only on special occasions, or is this a typical meal?
    • Is this meal part of a personal story about your family history? Did a relative teach you how to cook it?

    • In your country, are there certain cultural practices for meals? Do you normally eat this meal with your hands? Is it considered impolite for the guest to add salt or pepper to the food after it’s been served?

    • In your country, is there a certain way meals are served to everyone at the table? Do the guests serve themselves, or is it tradition that a certain family member serves all the guests?

    • Do you have a typical mealtime prayer?

    • Are there topics of conversation that are impolite to share during a meal?

    You could also talk about more general topics, such as:

    • Share the story of what brought you to America.
    • Welcome the guests to share what kind of jobs they have.

    Hopefully after the meal you will have bonded with your guests and made some new friends. Keep the tradition going by asking your guests if they would be interested in sharing their own traditional meals or cooking food for a future dinner.

    Join an Existing Club

    If you’d prefer to join a supper club that’s already established rather than hosting your own, some organizations can help you find a dinner close to your home that you can attend as a guest.

    These organizations are also helpful at walking you through the steps if you’d like to host a dinner yourself. They can provide the guests for you or give you tips on how to reach out to people on your own.

    The refugee supper club is a slow movement in Oklahoma, but your involvement in any of the organizations listed below will help make Oklahoma and Oklahoma City a more inclusive and culturally diverse place to live.

    Refuge Supper Club

    The Refuge Supper Club has only been around for a few months but has already hosted successful Iraqi and Burmese dinners. The club is organized by Michelle Nhin, whose parents emigrated from Vietnam when she was young.

    Dinners cost $60 to attend as a guest. Part of the money goes towards paying for the meal ingredients, and the rest goes back into the OKC immigrant community. The Refuge Supper Club’s website says: “Our mission is to promote cross cultural interaction and create a conversation with communities that usually do not interact with one another. Ultimately, the goal is to build natural relationships from these suppers and for both communities to gain understanding and empathy.”

    Visit the website to find out details on the next dinner. Since they already have chefs lined up, you have the opportunity to eat a meal from other immigrant communities in OKC.

    United Invitations

    This organization is mostly based in Europe, but there’s no reason that you can’t follow their lead in Oklahoma City.

    The organization has two websites to help you host a dinner or join one.


    United States:

    The European United Invitations website opens with this statement: “By saying, ‘Welcome, dinner is served!’ you can let someone who has already been let into our country into our society as well.”

    United Invitations also offers great resources on how to host your own dinner. The resources include where to find guests, how to plan out your meal, and how to prepare your meal. They encourage you to think outside of who you know by inviting community members you may never have met before.

    They can also help place you with a group if you’d like to come as a guest instead of hosting your own dinner. If you do decide to host a dinner using their tips, be sure to let them know—your dinner could be the first on their interactive map for Oklahoma.

    The People’s Supper

    Based in the US, The People’s Supper is a website that offers easy resources on hosting a supper or joining one as a guest. So far there hasn’t been one in OKC, but maybe you can be the first to get it going. The website is a free service that helps connect people and communities. It’s not just for immigrants and natives to share a meal, but also people from different religious and sexual orientations. People from all walks of life take part in People’s Suppers to get to know each other better.

    If you choose to host a supper, you can sign up through the website and they will provide you with a hosting guide. This guide will give you tips on how to keep the conversation going at your meal and how to organize a potluck—which is what they suggest, so you don’t have to stress about cooking for so many people. You’ll also get a 30-minute call with one of the facilitators, which will give you the chance to ask any questions and help ease some fear about hosting the dinner. You can invite your own guests, or they can help find guests for you.

    If you’d like to join a People’s Supper as a guest, fill out the form on their website and they’ll try to match you with a host in your area. They ask you to answer some personal questions, such as what do you like to do on the weekend, what community you identify with, and also any food allergies/preferences, to make sure you’re placed in a supper that you can contribute the most to.

    Refugees Welcome to Dinner

    Refugees Welcome to Dinner provides hosting tips not just for individuals but also for companies and organizations. Anyone can host a dinner—organizations, businesses, individuals, or groups of friends.

    If you’re the host, they provide you with a toolkit, which is free with a few guidelines to get you going. It’s up to you to find your guests, but they suggest you find immigrant guests through local resettlement organizations. It may also be a good idea to invite people outside of your cultural community.

    The Refugees Welcome to Dinner website offers some great insight into the purpose of these dinners: “We know that good food and relaxed conversation can lead to great things—whether learning about local customs or helping someone prepare for a job interview. Sharing stories is a powerful way to change hearts and minds. Big or small, these connections can be life-changing. In fact, according to recent research, 64% of people empathized with refugees after imagining themselves in a refugee’s shoes. By breaking bread together, refugees and their neighbors may discover that they have more in common than expected.”

    Let’s Feast!

    You may find through hosting and attending dinners that we all have a different version of meatballs, dumplings, or bread—but different can be delicious. It’s amazing to see how different cultures can use the same ingredients but create meals that are totally unique and wonderful.

    If diverse communities can come together to share more meals and conversations, our commonalities will become clearer and we’ll be able to appreciate our differences. No matter where we’ve come from, we all want the same things—to be happy, healthy, and accepted.

    Well, we’re curious. Have you given any thought to what dish you would serve if you hosted your own dinner? Let us know in the comments.

  5. How to get around OKC without a car.

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    One of the first things immigrants notice when they arrive in OKC is that the metro is sprawling (over 600 square miles!) and that it’s full of cars—so how can you efficiently get around town if you don’t own one?

    Compared to many other cities, you might think OKC has fewer transit options—but we’re in the middle of a transit renaissance that started less than ten years ago. Our city has many options whether you are traveling as a pedestrian, or if you prefer traveling by bike, bus, taxi, ridesharing, or train.

    All of these new options mean that there has been almost no easier time to get around OKC without a car than today. You just might decide that buying a car is not worth the cost!

    OKC’s transit renaissance

    We owe our thanks for the new transit options mostly to the MAPS 3 project. This multi-million-dollar tax referendum was proposed by Mayor Mick Cornett after OKC was named the “Least Walkable City” and the “Fattest City” in the US. Those were not fun times, and OKC residents voted to improve sidewalks, parks, transit services, and bike trails. Much of what we cover in this article was made possible with funds from MAPS 3. And there’s hopefully even more coming—if voters say yes, OKC is expected to generate another $240 million to expand and improve even more streets, sidewalks, trails, and bike lanes.

    MAPS 3 also helped fund a new $131-million streetcar system that will begin in late 2018. It will connect Bricktown, downtown, Automobile Alley, and Midtown. Two routes will travel almost seven miles, and the seven streetcars will hold 100 passengers each. We can’t wait!

    In response to MAPS 3, OKC has experienced a boom in new apartments and condominiums, especially near Midtown and Bricktown. More people are choosing to live and play, not just work, in the city. In fact, if you’re wondering where in OKC to live without a car, real estate pro Allan Woods recommends Mesta Park, the Paseo District, Roberts-Crest, Corridor South, and Gatewood Urban Conservation District.

    Walking in OKC

    Walking is the most affordable way to travel, and is getting more popular across the US in general, as well as in OKC. Luckily, with hundreds of miles of new sidewalks in OKC, more neighborhoods than ever before are connected to schools and shopping centers, and many new streets now feature smart intersections with walker-friendly medians.

    Just a few years ago, OKC started a Safe Routes to School program so more children could safely walk to school. SRS comes from state funds—Oklahoma receives $1 million a year to help cities improve safety and reduce traffic around schools. OKC has also joined the Vision Zero program, which seeks to achieve zero pedestrian deaths in the city through increased awareness and improved mobility options. Plus, OKC is building its new 70-acre Scissortail Park, which will connect downtown with the diverse south OKC districts (like Capitol Hill and Wheeler). Residents are already using the visually impressive Skydance pedestrian bridge to cross the Oklahoma River and Interstate 40.

    Jeff Speck, the nation’s top expert on walkable cities, thinks that OKC is an example of how the US is becoming a more pedestrian-friendly country. He believes it is happening faster in OKC than anywhere else!

    Bicycling in OKC

    The increased attention for OKC’s sidewalks has meant a renewed push for bicycle travel, too. While you have to buy or rent a bike, it’s still much cheaper than owning a car.

    Bicycling in OKC has never been safer. Just this year, OKC marked bike lanes and intersections downtown with bright green paint to increase cycling safety. Downtown OKC is also advocating for more crossings and better signage to help improve safety in the city’s growing Automobile Alley district. OKC has also used an advertising campaign called “Watch for Me OKC” to make drivers more aware of pedestrians and cyclists.

    Another recent addition to OKC’s cycling community is a rental option that is great if you for those who don’t own a bicycle. Spokies is the city’s only bike-share program, and there are eight drop-off and pick-up locations from NW 10th St. and Walker Ave. to Bricktown. You can rent bikes for 30-minute increments (for $3.50), or you can buy two-day (for just $9), monthly, or annual passes.

    As part of the MAPS 3 project, OKC built 12 miles of dedicated bike lanes, and the city is in the middle of updating its master plan for cycling and walking. Cyclists now have an almost 58-mile loop around OKC through trails and bike lanes. Cyclists are also working to get OKC certified as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.

    Riding the bus in OKC

    Although not as cheap as walking or cycling, buses are still an incredibly affordable way to travel around OKC. Since 2013, OKC’s bus service has operated under the name Embark, and almost 25 new routes have been added across the 465 miles it serves. Embark’s website is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese. The buses cover approximately a 10- to 12-mile radius from downtown OKC. Those routes extend north to Memorial Rd., south to SW 104th St., west to Council Rd., and east to Hiwassee Rd. Some of Embark’s routes also connect to the cities of Edmond and Norman.

    All bus routes run Monday to Saturday except for the Midwest City, Spencer, and Lincoln routes, which run Monday to Friday. Embark buses run from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, while Saturday buses run 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. In addition, four routes run Monday to Friday from 7 p.m. to midnight. OKC’s buses do not run on Sundays or on certain holidays.

    All those routes mean OKC’s buses serve a lot of people, and that requires delivering a high level of service to riders. Embark provides more than three million passenger trips every year, and its great customer service and innovation are why Embark was named the 2016 Outstanding Public Transportation System by the American Public Transportation Association. To make riding the bus even easier, the Embark Connect App on your smartphone and the Embark website both provide trip-planning tools and real-time bus schedules. You can also find tips and rules for riding—for example, each person on the bus is limited to bringing on four grocery-size bags and small strollers. A few Embark Plus buses also accommodate wheelchairs and mobility devices.

    Embark even encourages residents to combine buses with bicycles. The “Bike N Ride” program offers a free bicycle storage area at Embark’s Downtown Transit Center. Riders can bike to the center, store their bikes, take a bus to and from their destination, and then ride their bikes home.

    Fares for most adults start at $1.75 for a local bus ride and $3 for an express bus ride. Children age 6 and under are always free. Reduced fares of $0.75 and $1.50 are available for adults age 60 or older, those on Medicare, anyone with a qualifying disability, and youth ages 7–17. One-day, seven-day, and one-month passes are also available. Occasionally, there are a few days a year when it is free for anyone to ride the bus, which the city offers to help reduce vehicle emissions.

    Ridesharing in OKC

    In the last five years, Uber and Lyft have dramatically grown in the US, which means that riding in someone else’s car is now an easy way of getting around. More and more people in OKC are using their phones to pay for or work in the rideshare industry. You can use the companies’ apps to order rides and check for price changes during peak, off-peak, and surge price periods.

    Perhaps one of the least-known rideshare options available in OKC is the vanpool service by Embark and vRide, which is offered to groups of four or more people who share a commute. You can even be matched to an existing group if you don’t have one. Groups choose between small and large vans, and each rider pays a low monthly fee that covers all costs except fuel. One member of the group even keeps the van at his or her house.

    Finally, the oldest form of ridesharing is good old-fashioned carpooling. If you can find someone who owns a car, travels where you are going, and has an open seat, you can ride together and split fuel costs. Luckily, Get Around OK has a great website where drivers and riders can connect with each other.

    Call a cab in OKC

    Just like any large city, OKC has a healthy taxi industry. While a little more pricey than ridesharing services, taxi companies have more oversight and are considered to be more reliable. The two you’ll see around the city most often are Yellow Cab and Thunder Cab. You can book a taxi with a phone call or online.

    Riding the train in OKC

    Lesser known to locals in OKC are train options offered by Amtrak. Even though there are only a few routes, for some travel needs, riding a train may be your best choice. The Heartland Flyer operates a daily round-trip between OKC and Fort Worth, Texas. The 418-mile trip has Oklahoma stops in Norman, Purcell, Pauls Valley, and Ardmore, as well as one stop in Gainesville, Texas.

    We want to hear from you!

    As you can see, OKC offers so many different options for getting around without a car. We want to make sure your move to the US is as smooth as possible, which is why we love telling our clients that OKC is becoming a leading pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly city. Embark’s bus system is recognized as one of the best in the country, an exciting new streetcar service is coming soon, and there are more ridesharing and carpooling options available than ever before. There has never been a better time to get around OKC without a car, and we can’t wait to see even more options become available as our city continues to grow!

    Are you moving to OKC soon and have questions about getting around? Or have you already made your way around OKC without a car? We’d love to hear from you—comment below and let us know your thoughts.

  6. Nine must-read books about the immigrant experience in the US

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    If you struggle to put into words how you feel about living in a new country, try reading someone else’s story.

    Reading a similar story to your own will confirm and awaken your feelings on your life in America. Reading books will give you a sense a validation. It’s like the authors are all telling you, “Hey, it’s ok to feel this way, because we’ve been there and we felt it too.”

    Not only can books help you vocalize your own thoughts, but they can also offer a new perspective, give you some insight on other problems immigrants face, and even help you perfect your English.

    So, here are our nine must-read books about the immigrant experience in the US. We hope that the books listed below give you a better understanding of other immigrant’s experiences and a boost of confidence in your new life.

    1. The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears

    By Dinaw Mengestu

    This book gives a pretty realistic view of an immigrant’s struggle to achieve the American dream and find love in his new city.

    The main character, Sepha Stephanos, didn’t plan on coming to the US. He was forced to flee his country after protesting the Ethiopian government when he was a student.

    After moving to Washington DC, he had a hard time making a living for himself. He opens up a convenience store in a section of the city that is starting to attract wealthy white residents where he meets his new neighbor Judith, who is also white.

    Eventually, his and Judith’s relationship begins to border on romantic. Sepha’s immigrant friends give him a reality check on whether a real relationship with Judith is even possible, given their social differences. After a while, the neighborhood and his store start to fall apart, and he struggles to be successful in a country that views him as an outsider.

    There is a happy ending for Sepha, but you’ll have to read it to find out 🙂

    2. Americanah

    By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Americanah takes on a wide variety of themes – what it means to be black in the US, the politics of natural hair, interracial relationships, what it means to leave your native country and return after many years – and wraps them all up in a love story.

    The title of the book, Americanah, literally means someone who has lived in the US for so long that they forget some of the nuances of being Nigerian. The story is about a young Nigerian woman’s experience in theUS as a student and her eventual return home.

    The main character, Ifemelu, hopes that her childhood love, Obinze will join her in the US. He ends up in England, and they try to keep in touch throughout 15 years of separation. Eventually, Ifemelu and Obinze both end back up in Nigeria. Ifemelu tries to integrate back into her native culture despite her new American ways.

    3. The Book of Unknown Americans

    By Cristina Henríquez

    This book will remind you that every single person coming to the US has a different and sometimes difficult story to tell.

    Maribel’s father is the owner of a construction company in Mexico. One day while helping her father at work, she suffers a near-fatal accident. Not being able to get the help she needs in Mexico, her family moves to the US. Her parents have a tough time adjusting to their new lives but find comfort in surrounding themselves with other Hispanics in their American apartment community.

    This quote from the book accurately sums up their feelings of displacement: “We’re the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know… because they’ve been told they’re supposed to be scared of us.”

    While she’s recovering, Maribel meets Mayor, an immigrant from Panama. As Maribel and Mayor bond, both of their families grow closer together and share their experiences of leaving their homes behind.

    4. In The Country We Love: My Family Divided

    By Diane Guerrero and Michelle Burford

    “Just as one moment can bring despair, it can also lead to a powerful new beginning. A different life. A dream for moving onward and upward rather than backward.”

    This book is a page turning autobiography from Diane Guerrero, who you might know as Maritza from the popular TV show, Orange is the New Black.

    Diane tells her story of how her parents were deported back to Columbia when she was 14. Because she was a US citizen, she was allowed to stay.

    When her parents were taken away, no government agency contacted Diane to offer any help as to where this 14-year-old girl was to live or be cared for without her parents. She felt as if she didn’t even exist to the only country she has ever known. Luckily, she had a family friend who took her in and cared for her while she continued her schooling and supported her dream of becoming an actress.

    Guerrero acknowledges that she was one of the lucky ones: many families are left in hard situations when citizen children are left behind, and undocumented parents are deported.

    5. The Namesake

    By Jhumpa Lahiri

    If you have a citizen-born child or a child who was too young to remember their native country, this book can help you have a better understanding through the child’s perspective.

    The main character, Gogol Ganguli is a son of Indian immigrants from Calcutta. He struggles to live up to the name he was given at birth and to foster a real relationship with his traditional parents. He doesn’t understand or feel comfortable with his parents’ traditions and culture. Gogol’s parents want to him to respect their Hindu culture, but Gogol finds it stifling.

    Gogol’s mother, Ashmina, tries throughout the story re-create the culture she had left behind by hosting gatherings with other Indian transplants. You can feel Ashmina’s loneliness; having to leave behind everything she knows and loves to makes a new life in a strange place while watching her son grow up Americanized.

    6. Funny In Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America‎

    By Firoozeh Dumas

    This book is a great to read if you’re the type of person who wants to find humor in every situation. It will help you laugh at the awkward situations you might find yourself in when trying to understand the people in your new country.

    Immigrating to America as a child in the 1970s, Firoozeh has to adjust to keeping her same Iranian traditions, language, and culture in her home but having to be a whole other person when interacting with Americans.

    Her father’s love of America began as he was a college student in Texas. He returned to Iran after college, and many years later, a job opportunity brought him and his family back to America. He always told Firoozeh that America was the land of clean bathrooms and everyone had a chance to become an important person.

    Everything was going well for the family until the Iranian revolution in the late 1970s. Racism struck the family hard, and her father lost his job.

    But as funny stories go, the family never stays down for long. 

    7. Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States

    By Héctor Tobar

    This book is a look into the author’s views of what the current cultural landscape of the US has become. When he first came to the US in 1962 from Guatemala, the country was much different than it is today.

    The author’s father always told him to “never forget where you came from,” but he found it hard since he was cut off from all his family back in his native country. The cultural and language gap was pretty wide considering back then he could count on one hand how many Guatemalans he knew.

    Fast forward to present day and Spanish-speaking residents are so common in Los Angeles, the author writes, “you can close your eyes and feel the rural provinces of Mexico and Central America come to life…in the voices and the music of the people who live here.”

    The book will make you think about what it means to be an American now as cities start becoming more ethnically diverse. The author writes, “What it means to be an American citizen and what makes you a citizen, has been a fluid concept through this country’s history.” In the past, being American meant that you stopped speaking your native language and started to dress and act like other Americans. Now the definition has become less defined.

    8. Girl In Translation

    By Jean Kwok

    Girl in Translation tells a hard story of the harsh lives some immigrants are willing to live if that means they get to live in the US.

    This story brings a better understanding of the countless immigrants who struggle to succeed in the US and honor the duty to their family, all while being surrounded by a language and a world they barely understand.

    Kimberly and her mother immigrated to Brooklyn, New York from Hong Kong and are forced to live in filth and poverty in an apartment that Kimberly’s aunt rents to them. Her aunt is a terrible person who forces them to work in the sweatshop she owns to pay off their debts. Kimberly’s mom struggles to learn English, and it means that Kimberly has to grow up quick and be able to handle adult transactions and the care of her mother.

    The only good thing about Kimberly’s life is that she is a math genius. Her teacher recognizes this and helps get her into a prestigious school, despite the fact that Kimberly still works long, hard hours in her aunt’s sweatshop.
    She eventually has to choose between staying and caring for her mother or pursuing her dreams that her math abilities provide.

    9. The Arrival

    By Shaun Tan

    This book has no words. Literally. It’s a story told only with pictures. It is about a husband who leaves his wife and child behind to start a life for them in a new country. Because he doesn’t know the language in his new country, he articulates his thoughts and feelings through pencil illustrations. He shows you through his eyes how he feels to be in a strange land. His story is truly beautiful.

    Share your story.

    Share these stories with your family and your new American friends. Encourage people to talk openly about what it means to be an immigrant in the US. Hopefully, these books can inspire you to tell your own immigration story.

    If you have a story of your own you’d like to share, we encourage you to tell it in the comments below.

    If your story is unfinished or has hit a roadblock with immigration difficulties – please reach out and let us know how we can help you live the American dream to the fullest.

  7. Six tips to help you successfully integrate into American society

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    You’ve already invested so much just to get here. So now what?

    Being an immigrant in the US is a difficult journey and yet, here you are. Now that you’re here, you need to make the most of your decision and start living the life you envisioned. But how do you start?

    Well, you’re off to a good start by coming to our website. Stump and Associates is your ally in this journey.

    We know that you being here will provide for a better America and we’ve created these six tips to help you integrate successfully.

    1. Meet the locals

    When you are living in a new country, it may be tempting to find people from your original country and stay within that community. While this community is useful for easing any culture shock you experience, it can make it challenging for you to integrate fully into American society.

    So how do you get to know the locals?

    If you’re here as a student, join clubs or activities at your school that interest you or even go to events you know nothing about. Being on a team or part of a group can give you a sense of belonging and help ease some sadness from being away from home. This article from US News offers other tips for international students attending school in the US.

    If you’re a professional, there are plenty of groups you can join as an adult, whether it’s a running club, a cooking class or a board game club. is a great tool for searching groups and events in your area.

    Joining these groups and going to events can help you meet Americans and will likely lead to great friendships and job opportunities.

    2. Understand the language

    If you want to integrate successfully into any country, you have to know how to speak and understand the common language. Misinterpreting words or meanings can sometimes contribute to awkward and uncomfortable situations.

    It’s one thing when you can speak the language but understanding how words are being used is a whole other skill. Context clues can be very helpful when you are trying to get the general idea of a word you are unfamiliar with.

    Slang words and phrases can also lead to very confusing conversations if you haven’t heard them before. Even more confusing is that every state or city may have their own unique sayings. For example, you might hear someone say something “Drives me up a wall.” That means that something is irritating or annoying. And in Oklahoma, you’ll often hear “fixing to” which just means “getting ready”.

    Don’t be afraid to ask a person to explain unfamiliar words when they come up in conversation. You may have to research a word or phrase that sounds strange to you, and that’s perfectly ok.

    Which brings us to our favorite research tool…

    3. Get acquainted with American culture

    Or read as: watch as much TV as you like. Now, this might sound like an odd tip coming from a prestigious law firm (if you don’t mind us saying), but you can actually learn a lot about American culture just by watching a popular show. A mix of sitcoms, reality shows, and the nightly news will introduce you to a wide range of information and give you a real sense of American culture. Here are some of the benefits you get from just watching TV:

    • Television and movies expose you to common expressions and slang words that are used in everyday American conversations.
    • TV can give you a good understanding of American humor. Humor can be useful for integrating since laughter bonds people together and forms friendships.
    • You’ll get to know pop culture references and American social cues. For example, you might see several examples of a typical American greeting or learn how Americans celebrate certain holidays and traditions.
    • TV makes a great conversation topic. If you are around Americans in a casual setting, ask them if they also watch an American TV show that you enjoy. Your discussion of the show could carry the conversation off to other topics.

    4. Get hired

    One of the best ways to contribute to  American society is to be employed and start earning a paycheck. If you are searching for a job as an immigrant, you are in good company. In a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, one-third of employers plan to hire immigrant workers in 2017, with 16 percent planning to do so in the second quarter.

    There are local organizations within Oklahoma City that can help you navigate the job-searching process. The Common OKC is a great resource that offers support and assistance in locating job opportunities that fit your skill set.

    And when you get contacted for an interview, be sure to read our blog post, Ace the Job Interview (Even if You’re Not Fluent in English). This post gives great tips on how to overcome the language barrier, how to prepare for questions, how to dress, and what questions you should ask during an interview.

    5. Share your culture and your experiences

    The US has been known as a “melting pot”; meaning that we are one country comprised of people from different cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and religions. Being culturally diverse gives us the upper hand on innovation. To contribute back to American society (other than consuming goods and paying taxes) is to share your culture and your experiences.

    Your ideas and traditions have the possibility of opening your neighbor’s eyes to new perspectives and a better awareness of the world around them. It’s so important to share culture because as much as we think we know about each other, we still have so much to learn.

    Some examples of sharing your culture and experiences could be to:

    • Host a dinner for your neighbors and share traditional dishes from your country.
    • Teach a cooking class.
    • Share a traditional craft or game from your country at a local art fair or recreation center.
    • Give a presentation about your traditions at a local school or church’s international awareness day.
    • Participate in local storytelling events by sharing folk tales that are native to your country.

    6. Be persistent

    Persistence is a good virtue worth having, especially for someone living in a country foreign to them. You’ve come to the US and Oklahoma City for a new life, a better life, and you should be proud of what you’ve achieved so far. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve already shown great persistence.  All of us at Stump and Associates are glad you’re here.

    We don’t have to tell you how hard it is to live in a new country; you’re living it every day. Don’t give up!

    Be sure to follow along as we continue to share resources on living and working in the US. We’re here to help you make this transition as easily as possible. Subscribe to our newsletter , or get in touch to let us know how you need help.


  8. Ace the job interview (even if you’re not fluent in English)

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    You have the skills for the job, but how do you make a good impression when you can’t speak the language?

    Interviewing for a job in the U.S. can be intimidating if you aren’t fluent in English. Heck, it’s hard enough for native English speakers to land a job, so having a language barrier can be a lot of added stress.

    Take a deep breath. Whether you’re interviewing for a part-time position or your dream job, we have some tips that will help you not only make a good impression but convince the company you’re the best person for the job.

    Overcoming The Language Barrier

    The first thing you’ll need to do is get comfortable steering the conversation without studying the whole English language. Knowing a few language tricks can help you get back on track and talking about the things you can explain well.

    Language tip #1: Study the terms

    In the week before the interview, identify any difficult terms or industry-specific questions that may come up. You can find many of these in the job description itself, or on the company’s website. If you can’t find a job description, call the hiring manager and ask for one. Study these terms and questions ahead of time and bring a notepad with you for quick reference.

    Language tip #2 Fall back to past tense

    The most common English mistake non-natives make is speaking in mixed tense. To keep your language consistent, use past tense to talk about your career and experience. Using past tense is an easy fallback, and your interviewer isn’t likely to notice or be distracted by it. (You can also simplify your resume by using past tense verbs.)

    Language tip #3: Remember to ask this question:

    During the interview, you may get asked a few questions you don’t understand. Anytime this happens, remember to ask “Can you say it another way?” and the interviewer can quickly rephrase the question. This is a great tactic that helps you hear familiar words, and it doesn’t put a halt to the conversation.

    You can also ask the interviewer for a “synonym,” meaning a word similar to the one you don’t understand. For example, if you were asked about your “certifications” and didn’t understand the word, your interviewer could use a synonym like “qualifications,” which you might understand better.

    Make sure you’re heard

    Be sure to speak slowly and enunciate your words throughout the interview. Listen carefully to the interviewer and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Tip: If you use a pocket translator, ask your interviewer if it’s allowed on the job and in the interview, but try not to rely too heavily on it.

    Land the job

    We also have a few general recommendations for interviewing regardless of whether English is your second language. After you’re comfortable with company terminology, use these tips to convince them to hire you.

    Learn all you can

    First, be prepared! Learn all you can about the job (again, using the job description), and get to know the company. Try to learn the company’s history, how the company makes money, identify their competitors, and know what challenges the company may face today and in the future. Not only will this help you look interested in the job, but you can use this information to position yourself as a solution to the challenges they face.

    Identify your success stories

    You need to be able to communicate how you solve problems and meet goals, and you can do this by identifying success stories from your career. This can show you are adaptable and perform well in a variety of situations. This tactic is especially important if you are switching career fields or don’t have related job experience.

    We recommend using the STAR approach for explaining success stories:

    S: Identify the challenging Situation you faced

    T: Describe the Task you had in the situation (your responsibilities)

    A: Explain the Actions you took to solve the problem

    R: Describe the Results of your actions.

    Practice answering the questions

    Another part of being prepared is to practice interviewing with a friend. You can do this by identifying 10-20 common interview questions, have an English-speaking friend or family member ask them, and then do your best answering without reading from notes. The first few times will be rough, but your comfort level and performance will improve the more you practice. It’s best to practice in a setting similar where you’ll interview, like an office or library meeting room.

    Bring your own questions

    This interview is not just for the company to make sure you’re right for the job; it’s your opportunity to make sure the company is a good fit for you. Asking your own questions also makes you look more selective which gives the company incentive to hire faster. We like these example questions from, and also have a few of our own to add:

    • How diverse is the company workplace?
    • Have you hired foreign nationals before?
    • Are you willing to sponsor my path to permanent residency?

    How to dress

    Be sure to dress appropriately for the interview. Most interviewers say that being dressed more formally is better than being dressed too casually. The Career Services office at Emory University offers an excellent tip sheet for what is and is not professional business attire.

    American greetings and etiquette

    Here are a few unspoken etiquette rules that will help make the interview a little less awkward for you:

    • Greet the interviewer with eye contact and a firm handshake.
    • Nod and smile while the interviewer is talking. (This is proven to activate positive thoughts in others.)
    • Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
    • Arrive 5 – 10 minutes early. Have a travel plan in place to get you there with time to spare.
    • Remove any gum, mints or candy before you arrive.
    • Speak loud and clear.
    • Turn off your phone.

    Practice these when role-playing. Once the interview ends, thank the interviewer for their time. Then, send a handwritten thank you note. We recommend a note that includes at least two reasons why the company should hire you. You can drop this off before you leave or send later that day.

    Don’t give up

    Finally, trust in your preparation and hope for the best! Your dedication will be appreciated and is sure to pay off. While you may not get hired after your first interview, your chances of getting a job will increase by practicing these tips. Don’t give up and keep on applying for the jobs you want.

    Getting a job is a major step toward integrating into a new community and can be very helpful if you’re working toward citizenship. Know that the skills you bring to the American workforce have a positive impact on our economy. We’re here to give you resources and make your job hunt as stress-free as possible.

    Did we miss anything? What helped you get your current job? Any resources you’d like to share?

    Email for help in regards to obtaining your US H-1B work visa, or getting sponsorship.