Ilda became an American Citizen today in the courthouse across the street from the Pfister. She had to pledge her allegiance to the flag, and swear an oath and then was given an envelope that contained her official paperwork along with a letter signed by the President. It is 6:30 p.m. and she has been celebrating in the lounge with her coworkers since 11:30a.m. “They are my family in the United States because I don’t have anyone else here.” Ilda was born in Albania, physician immigrated to Greece with her family, and now lives in Oak Creek Wisconsin. She goes to visit her family back in Greece once a year. Her boss allows her one month’s vacation for this reason. Ilda is hoping to bring her mother over to America next year.
In 2009 she won the green card lottery sponsored by the diversity visa program which allowed her to come to America. Ilda got a job working on the line at a bakery where they make garlic bread, french bread, breadsticks and frozen pizzas. At first she was miserable because the job was not challenging enough. She had always wanted to live in America, but had never thought of what she wanted beyond that, because she knew that just getting to this country would present her different opportunities. She almost quit, but decided to keep working there for a bit.
Some of the products made in the bakery get marked with the bakery’s own label, but most are made for private businesses and labeled with their brand. Roundy’s, Cisco, Target and Wal-Mart are some of the big companies that they work with. Their products are stocked in Safeway’s all over the nation. Today Ilda is no longer bored with her job because she has moved her way up to being the Quality Assurance Manager. She oversees two factories. She has to do all the research for determining what to state in the nutrition facts for all products at the bakery. It is up to her to make sure that everything will be compliant with food regulation laws. Ilda likes how there are always new problems for her to unravel in her position. As a strictly gluten free person, I ask if they bake anything that is gluten free. “Not yet,” says Ilda, “In the near future. We will be non-GMO too. We are working on getting certified.”
Her best friend (who also works at the bakery) moved here from Mexico 21 years ago. “She’s like my only family here, and I’m her only family here besides these people next to us.” Ilda’s friend has two kids, one in high school and another currently attending Carthage college. “Sending your kids to college, that’s part of the big American dream,” she says. Next semester her son is going to study the Japanese language and international business relations in Japan.