Micheal Castaldo: The Unofficial Italian Ambassador

December 12, 2011 § 3 Comments

By Cristabelle Tumola

If you met Micheal Castaldo you wouldn’t think he was an immigrant. But he isn’t American—he grew up in Canada. It’s easy to mistake a Canadian for an American, but Micheal actually isn’t a native Canadian either—he is, as his name suggests, Italian.

This two-time immigrant left Southern Italy’s Calabria region when he was three years old. He grew up in Toronto Canada, and as an adult came to America to study music, later falling in love with New York and staying for good.

It was in the United States that Micheal, 49, started his career as an Italian ambassador, but not in the literal sense.

For the past 10 years, Micheal has been exploring his Italian culture through his music, olive oil business and his restored family villa that he rents out to tourists in Calabria.

“I feel blessed that I’m able to go back to my roots and tell my story because everybody has their own story to tell and put it out there and see who likes it and who doesn’t,” he says.

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The 10 Million of the 99 Percent

December 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

By Rebecca Ellis

Jose works 55 to 56 hours a week as a full-time chef at a downtown pizzeria. One of his specialties is a 15-inch pizza with pepperoni around the edges and lined down the middle, a popular item among the protesters at Occupy Wall Street. The pepperoni is arranged in the shape of the universal protest symbol, served up piping hot to hungry and freezing Wall Street occupiers.

Jose, who is undocumented and asked his last name not be published, is one of the 99 percent.  Jose is one of more than 10 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States and without comprehensive immigration reform he has no way to legalize his status.

“I am not afraid to say I am illegally here,” Jose said. “I came like all Mexicans who come here, to work.”

Jose is more focused on what he calls the  “the Mexican dream” rather than “the American dream.” Instead of buying a big house in the suburbs, Jose looks forward to the day when he can go back to his home country and be with his children.

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