André Mozeak, Civic Engagement Fellow
The NYIC's Civic Engagement Fellow, André Mozeak, works to engage immigrant New Yorkers in the political process through initiatives like our Student Voter Registration Day. Here, he shares his thoughts on living in Queens, working at the NYIC, the new year and the new administration.
What is your position at the NYIC?
I am the Civic Engagement Fellow here at the New York Immigration Coalition. I’m one of a pair of fellows on the Civic Engagement team.
How long have you lived in New York City?
Practically my whole life. My parents have always owned our house here (in Queens) so even when I lived in different parts of the South for 6 years of my childhood, we would always come back to New York. I’ve been living here permanently since 2001.
What brought you to the NYIC?
Originally, I was brought on as a communications consultant for the National Immigrant Integration Conference in 2015 that we did… but I was also working at an NYIC member organization before that called La Fuente. So we had done some collaboration on labor issues and things like that. When the organization dissolved I knew that the NYIC would be a really good option to carry on that work and continue to reach out to those communities.
What were your initial reactions to the presidential election in November?
Obviously shock, and anger. Sickness, like physical sickness in a way that I didn’t know was possible. Except for watching things like Game of Thrones or fictional things. But when it happens in real life, when someone who is literally evil comes out as the winner, it’s upsetting in a much, much different way.
On election day I had taken the day off to do poll work on Long Island with a couple other staff members from the NYIC and we were confronted by Trump supporters, mainly because we didn’t look like folks in the neighborhood. They were questioning whether or not we were legally allowed to be there or talking to voters, which we were. We were completely within our legal boundaries, but they still tried to get us out of there. And now, at the end of the day, their interests are going to be represented in that regard now. I think in the week after though, I really felt a growing drive to do the work that I do with Civic Engagement and now we’re actually in a very real sort of battle for our values and protecting the people that we love.
What are your feelings in this new year, especially as the inauguration approaches?
I didn’t get a chance to see President Obama’s farewell address, but even just thinking about it makes me well up, and become grief stricken. I remember election day in 2007, and it was really great. There is a sense that it is hitting home now: people are going through confirmation hearings and things like that and it sort of feels like real life is a parody of itself. But, you know, I guess I just feel more driven. With every new wave of development that comes, even though a lot of them are bad and it makes me burn inside to see these people gain power, I get inspired to get back on the ground and keep pushing forward. I feel ready, I think. Ready for action.
How was your holiday break?
It was cool! I stayed home and made my house more festive for the holidays. Everyone in my house works full time so we don’t have a lot of time to make our home feel like “home”. So we spent a lot of time doing that. And we had other members of our family visiting from out of town for Christmas dinner and New Years. That’s always a special treat.