Αστόρια.- Assemblymember Aravella Simotas shared her experiences as a Greek immigrant and discussed Greek American life in Astoria as a special guest at the Queens Historical Society’s “Immigrant Voices” series. Simotas came to Astoria when she was a baby with her Greek parents and she became the first woman elected to office in her district, in 2010.
During the evening talk, which was held on October 17, at the Historical Society’s Kingsland Homestead in Flushing, Simotas talked about the early waves of Greek immigrants who came to Queens in the 1970’s and the typical trajectory of their lives. “Families would settle down, open small businesses around Astoria, educate their children and save up to buy a home.” Simotas said.
“It is now very difficult to immigrate and very, very difficult to get a green card, plus it’s now cost prohibitive for immigrants to think about purchasing a house in Astoria,” Simotas said.
“The demographics are changing and change can be difficult, but change is the story of New York and people generally love it here.”
Simotas said that like immigrant families, hers is very close-knit. “My brother owns a home across the street from me and I see my mother every day. When the Assembly is in session and I’m up in Albany, my mom has been caring for my daughter since she was born in 2012.”
Assemblymember Simotas noted that in addition to immigrants from around the world, young families from around the United States are also moving into Astoria because of its diversity – of cultures, languages, food and religions – and the openness of people in Astoria to accept their neighbors.