This is the story of my parents, Yonina Warshovski and Meyer Matisovitch (changed to Mathis ) who left Lithuania around 1924. My father could not get a visa to the U.S. but was able to go to Toronto, Canada, where he stayed with my mother’s cousins, the Siegles. He was in Canada long enough to get citizenship. He would cross the border and visit my mother until he was eligible to come into the U.S. They married in Detroit around 1927. My mother joined her parents, sister and brother in Detroit, who had all arrived at different times and earlier. She was the last to arrive. In Detroit she went to Wayne State University . Both my parents taught Hebrew at the United Hebrew School for over 40 years.
You might not know it, but Detroit has a big basement Bollywood scene.
Amit Deshpande is an Indian singer who is well-known to metro Detroit’s Indian population. He lives in a beautiful home in Troy, and regularly performs to crowds of 350 people. A quiet night for him is a show in front of 150 spectators. His repertoire includes Bollywood favorites (both classic and contemporary), and ghazels (slower, chill ballads). This weekend, he’s warming up for Bollywood singer Poonam Bhatia, who is coming in from India. And yet, chances are, you’ve never heard of him before. Let’s change that.
Deshpande, an IT consultant by day, arrived in the United States from India in 2001, initially to study for his master’s degree in California. He later moved to Chicago with work, before settling in Michigan in 2004. He made himself at home right away. “Detroit has a lot of music buffs,” he says. “There’s a big Indian music industry here. You might have seen a lot of ads coming up for concerts. Every now and then, there’s a big singing star coming here to do concerts — they always want to come here and do performances because they get a great audience. It’s like a rock concert.”
Deshpande is an immediately likable gent. He speaks softly, and he smiles throughout the interview. He has no airs and graces, and he seems genuinely excited to be speaking to a non-Indian publication, hopefully turning a few new people from different walks of life onto Indian music. If not, your loss. And there are plenty of Indian people here to enjoy it. “The way the Indian lifestyle is, the way we grew up, music is almost in everyone,” he says. “You grew up hearing music, the radio is always on in the house, so almost everyone has an ear for music. That’s how people who actually grew up in that lifestyle, when they come here, they’re the same way. Indian kids get it too. So there’s a demand, or liking, not just from people who have immigrated but from people who are born here.”
I spent all of my childhood in India. I grew up in a big family of seven, five siblings and my parents. We grew up with all my cousins too, about 15 kids growing up together. Growing up in India was so much different than my experience in US. My mom was the main reason behind our immigration, because she wanted us to have better opportunities and build a life that she dreamed for us.
I moved to the US on December 25, 2003. We were looking forward to our new life, meeting family in the US, and the “American Dream.” Arriving on a snowy day during Christmas was unexpected, especially since our definition of “dressing warm” in India is definitely not the same as in the U.S. We only had thin-layered sweaters and it was about 15 degrees when we arrived. But I did not care; I just wanted to get out of the airport and SEE AMERICA!!
Language was an issue for my parents who arrived to the U.S with no English background. But not so much for us kids. Though we enrolled in a high school right away, we were still highly dependent on our uncle (mom’s sibling) who already lived in Michigan, to help us get settled.
For our family, education was a huge factor behind our move to Michigan and the U.S. In India I was never serious about school, but here I had to live up to my parent’s expectations. I had to become mature, serious and determined to be successful. I made sure I got As in all my classes, because I wanted my parents to feel that leaving their whole life back in India and moving to the States for us was worth it.
As we lived in Michigan, we gradually met new people and made new friends. It was tough the first year but we made it through. I attended Dearborn High School and graduated in June 2005. Afterwards, I attended University of Michigan-Dearborn and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Chemistry in June 2010. I enjoyed chemistry a lot in high school, so I took it as a major in college, where I was involved in Chemistry Club. We went to many symposia, participated in poster presentations, bake sales, and held campus events.
I then continued my education at Wayne State University Pharmacy School, and am currently in my last year. In Pharmacy School, I’ve been even more involved. I had a Vice President position in Arab American Pharmacist Association (AAPA) and am an active member of American Pharmacist Association, Michigan Pharmacist Association. I even participate in a Mentorship program and mentored students in pharmacy school and undergraduate students who are pursuing pharmacy school in future. I will be graduating with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree on May 12, 2014.
Currently, I work as a pharmacy intern at Meijer Pharmacy. I have the opportunity to counsel patients, participate in health fairs, immunization, and various screenings such as diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure. My career has made me a more independent, responsible, and mature adult.
I believe it all goes back to my family. My mom has had the biggest influence on me. Although she does not have a college degree she worked very hard and has sacrificed everything to make sure my siblings and I had everything that we needed to succeed. One of my uncles, Mohmedyunus Patel, has also been a great influence in my career and my personal life. Family is the most important thing in his life too, and he cares for and respects his parents and siblings very much. He is a successful Civil Engineer for City of Dearborn. I always look up to him and aspire to someday be like him. My plan after graduation is to practice as a pharmacist in a retail pharmacy. I am excited to share my knowledge and be a proficient clinical pharmacist in a retail pharmacy.
Don’t know of any off hand, but you might want to try the Finnish Cultural Center and see if they can point you in the right direction:
Finnish Cultural Center
35200 W 8 Mile Rd
Farmington, MI 48335
Edit: Kate said the following places serve Finnish Pasties, enjoy!
Barb’s Pasties & Pizza, 610 S Main St, Clawson
Weldon’s Pasties, 2123 15 Mile Rd, Sterling Heights
Jimmies Pasties, 33825 5 Mile Rd, Livonia
Mary Denning’s Cake Shoppe, 8036 N. Wayne Rd, Westland
Geno’s Pizza & Pasties, 24705 John R Rd, Hazel Park
By – Kate (Koponen) Brennan
My father was born and raised in Raleigh, North Dakota, an area with a climate familiar to my grandfather Tapani Koponen’s original home. He emigrated from Finland in the early 1900s. My father, Melvin Koponen, and many of his Finnish cousins gradually moved from North Dakota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Detroit to find work in the manufacturing business as tool makers and engineers in the early 1940s.
My mother was not Finnish, so it was my Aunt Helen Koponen, along with my father, who spent time teaching me about my Finnish heritage. Each night my father would read to me from the Kalevala, the great Finnish epic, which like the Iliad and the Odyssey, grew out of a rich oral tradition with prehistoric roots. I recently learned it was one of Tolkien’s inspirations for The Lord of the Rings.
When I was a toddler, my aunt gave me my first traditional Finnish costume (see photo), and each year on my birthday, she would make me my own loaf of Nisu, the most delicious sweet coffee bread I have ever tasted. I would like to share that recipe for those of you who might like to savor this special Finnish treat. I like it toasted with melted butter and just a tiny bit of jam.
I am thankful to my father and my aunt Helen for instilling in me a sense of pride in my Finnish heritage.
Finnish Nisu – Sweet Bread (Total Time: 3 hrs.)
2 packages active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water
1 (13 ounce) can undiluted evaporated milk, heated to 110 degrees
½-1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon crushed cardamon, seed
4 eggs, beaten
½ cup softened butter
8 – 9 cups all-purpose flour
egg, mixed with milk, for glaze
Pearl sugar or sliced almonds or plain sugar, for decoration
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
2. Stir in the milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, eggs and enough flour to make a batter (approx. 2 cups).
3. Beat until dough is smooth and elastic
4. Add about 3 cups of flour and beat well.
5. Dough should be smooth and glossy in appearance.
6. Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time until dough is stiff.
7. Add the butter, beat until dough looks glossy again.
8. Turn out onto floured board, cover with inverted bowl.
9. Let rest for 15 minutes.
10. Knead until smooth and satiny.
11. Place in lightly greased bowl, turn dough to grease top, cover lightly and let rise in warm place – until doubled in size.
12. Punch down; let rise again.
13. Turn out onto a lightly floured board, divide into 3 parts, and divide each part into 3.
14. Shape each piece of dough into a strip 16 inches long by rolling between palms and board.
15. Braid 3 strips together into a straight loaf and pinch ends together and tuck under.
16. Repeat for second and third loafs.
17. Place on lightly greased baking sheets.
18. Let rise until puffy (1/2 to 1 hour).
19. Glaze loaves with a mixture of beaten egg and milk.
20. Sprinkle with sugar and sliced almonds.
21 Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
22. Do not over bake – or bread will be +dry.
My life and life’s work have been about communications. Learning to speak English, becoming an American journalist, earning an advanced degree in diplomacy and working in public relations and marketing are all about communications.
When I was 14 years old, I started a newspaper in my hometown in Lebanon, writing stories on notebook papers and circulating copies to my friends and schoolmates. My father rejected the idea and steered me toward mathematics and physics to ensure a career in engineering.
Fleeing the civil war in Lebanon, I immigrated to the United States in 1983 to attend college and major in engineering. I did not speak a word of English when I set foot at Eckert College in St. Petersburg Florida, but soon I fell in love with the English language, and with America, and decided to become a journalist, a plan that my college adviser considered “crazy.”
I refused to relent. I began working in the printing plant at the St. Petersburg Times. Eight years later, the Times published my first story. I mailed a copy to my college adviser, who framed it and hanged it in his office.
My tenacity stems from the urge to learn, be persistent and be positive. Even when I made embarrassing mistakes when I first began to speak English, I turned my embarrassment into lessons. Today, I measure success not by what I don’t know or haven’t done, but by how much I grow and learn.
I reported for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, the Beaumont Enterprise in Texas and joined The Ann Arbor News in 1999, covering municipalities and business development in Eastern Washtenaw County.
After The Ann Arbor News closed in 2009, I joined the American Arab Chamber of Commerce as a communications director while completing my master’s degree in diplomacy and conflict resolution at Norwich University in Vermont.
I have always cherished my experience at the chamber, working directly with businesses and help them grow and prosperous, but the journalism fever continued seething inside me. I also realized the great demand for ethnic marketing and the dire need for immigrant entrepreneurs to access information in their own language about lending, laws and regulations and the changing economic trends. I embarked on Bizmagazine in December of 2012 to link digitally businesses and customers and provide immigrant entrepreneurs the information they need through mobile technology.
Bizmagazine is a monthly digital magazine, with a weekly e-newsletter and a mobile app, all of which are dedicated to serving the immigrant business community in Michigan and hopefully beyond.
I am a strong believer in diversity and the power of knowledge, both of which have helped empower local businesses, boost the entrepreneurial spirit and create stronger.
Rudaina Hamade is the picture perfect portrait of the American Dream come true. She is a Lebanese immigrant who feels privileged and honored to be an American, came to America at a young age, used her time efficiently, worked very hard, and demonstrated high levels of achievements over the years. Rudaina’s commitment to success enabled her to build a successful Small Business and raise a role model family. Today, Rudaina is a proud member of the Council on Small Business at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the president of the Dearborn Chapter at the National Association of Professional Women.
Rudaina values Liberty and Justice that protect women’s rights, allow them to prosper and live in dignity. She takes pride in the Free Enterprise System and Small Business opportunities that are available to all. Her unique and diverse cultural experiences have enriched and enabled her to become a cosmopolitan leader in the world of business.
Over the years, being a mother of three, she exhausted every effort to balance between career and motherhood, pursuing a Finance Degree while raising children, and successfully managing a small family business. Rudaina graduated with highest honors, and counseled companies on trade related issues at the International Business Center in Southwest MI. She also authored a book on international business which was used by Lake Michigan College and shared by other International Business Centers across the U.S.
Rudaina’s greatest accomplishment is being a motivator and a mentor to her children, who are now her partners. This family team has developed and successfully operated multiple ventures, to name a few, New York Consulting Company, Tax Centers of America, Detroit Homes 4 Less, and several other joint ventures in partnership with a group of New York real estate developers.
In the midst of the worst financial crisis of 2008, Detroit Homes 4 Less was created. The fallout of the Big 3 with massive job losses forced investors to abandon the Detroit Market. However, Rudaina and her son, Michael, refused to give up on their community, acquired financial backing, and reinvested in Detroit. The family’s core values of integrity, honesty, family, work ethics, social responsibility, and diversity, which are the solid foundation of their business culture, enabled Detroit Homes 4 Less to be an icon in the Detroit community. After six years, this family’s persistence prevailed by helping others while rebuilding the city they admire. Rudaina and her children are the true definition of the American dream.
Detroit Homes 4 Less is catering to low income families, providing them affordable home ownership, and creating jobs in the local neighborhoods. They are sponsoring various events with local churches on educating home buyers on budgeting and home ownership. Rudaina and family are committed and passionate about building communities. They are proud to take part in revitalizing the Detroit Metro community One Home, One block at a Time.