Not enough attention is focused on the contributions of people who enter the country under the refugee and asylee programs. Today's IOTD is Michaela DePrince, a ballet dancer who came to the US as an orphan from Sierra Leone. I remember one of my first cases as an immigration lawyer was helping a family from that country and remember the terrible civil war there that took such a toll on so many people.
The Associated Press has a nice story on Michaela's ascent from refugee to up and coming ballerina:
She escaped war and suffers a skin pigmentation disorder that had her labeled "the devil's child" at the orphanage. She's an African dancer in the world of ballet that sees few leading black females. She was adopted and raised to become a ballerina in the U.S. - a country where she believed everyone walked around on tippy toes.
On July 19, Michaela performs in her first professional full ballet, dancing the part of Gulnare in Le Corsaire, as a guest artist of South Africa's two biggest dance companies, Mzansi Productions and South African Ballet Theatre.
Her ascent to stardom in the ballet world has been fast, if not typical. At 17, she's already been featured in a documentary film and has performed on TV-show "Dancing With the Stars". She just graduated from high school and the American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, and will go on to work at Dance Theatre of Harlem. Her family recently moved from Vermont to New York City to support her dance career and her sister's acting and singing. Michaela said she has been offered many opportunities to dance with companies in Europe and in the U.S.