La Mariposa en la Pared

The everyday experiences of latino immigrants through the eyes of an outsider. Las vidas típicas de unos inmigrantes latinos a través de los ojos de una forastera.

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Location: Upstate NY, United States

"To me it’s always interesting when you get accepted somewhere you don’t really belong. It’s interesting when people open up and let you in their world." - Gilles Mingasson

Monday, August 11, 2008

Donna Poisl, A Friendly Voice for Immigrants

Donna Poisl has the right idea. She is the author of How to Live & Thrive in the U.S. / Como Vivir y Prosperar en los Estados Unidos, a bilingual guide for immigrants to everything from seeking medical care to opening a bank account. Her aim is to help immigrants to learn our system and live successfully in the U.S. as active members of society rather than as passive visitors. The book is available spiral-bound, with English printed on the left and Spanish on the right to facilitate its use by advocates, such as ESL teachers, in helping to instruct their students.

I wish I had known about this book a long time ago, for the many times I've guided migrants to walk-in clinics, dentist offices, and emergency rooms, and tried to answer questions about auto insurance, drivers' licences, and various other "documents."

I want to add, however, that most of the challenges faced by those I know were compounded by their being undocumented, and I don't want to invite hate-mail by implying that she has written this book to help undocumented migrants navigate (i.e. take advantage of) "the system." From food stamps to Planned Parenthood, undocumented immigrants aren't eligible for public relief, anyway. In fact, in spite of what some nativists like to say about immigrants' receiving social services, those I know rely on each other for support in times of need, rather than trying to get anything for free, and when given the chance, pay their hospital bills in installments rather than walking away from their obligation.

Poisl's book is on my list of things to purchase with my next paycheck, so I haven't read it yet. It seems an invaluable resource for anyone who works with or advocates for immigrants of all kinds. Whether a person is documented or not, it's ultimately better for everyone if they know what to do in an emergency, what their rights are, and how to live as seamlessly as possible among us.

Donna also keeps a blog, highlighting mostly positive articles relating to immigrants and their lives here. Her advocacy - helping to orient immigrants in their new surroundings and guide them to sources of support, and her blog's emphasis on the positive impact of immigrants on our communities - is a powerful force in the right direction, creating win-win situations for immigrants and those who live alongside them, and countering the negative press that aims to vilify immigrants.


Blogger Donna Poisl said...

Janna, thanks for your kind words. You are exactly right, this book was written to help immigrants learn our system, which can be very confusing for people from different cultures.
A lot of groups who assist immigrants buy boxes of books from me directly to use for their English classes. It is also in book stores.
I firmly believe: When immigrants succeed here, we ALL benefit.
Thank you, Donna Poisl

8/12/2008 12:51 PM  
Blogger janna said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/12/2008 4:11 PM  
Blogger janna said...

Hi Donna, It's always refreshing to see someone working for the good of immigrants, and even more so when that work serves a practical and immediate purpose. I've seen first-hand the need for the kind of assistance you offer through your book. I can't wait to read it, and put it to good use! Thank you for stopping by!

8/12/2008 4:17 PM  
Blogger janna said...

For anyone who's curious - that deleted comment was just me still trying to learn how to use blogger. After 2 years of blogging, I'm still trying to get the hang of it!

8/12/2008 4:18 PM  
Blogger Katherine B. said...

Hi Janna, thank you for such a wonderful blog and for letting me know about Donna Poisl's book. It sounds like it could be a great resource and I will pass it on to others I work with. Thank you again for your support of immigrant communities and I look forward to reading your future posts!

12/01/2008 4:12 PM  
Blogger janna said...

Katherine, thanks for your comment! Just the other day I got an email from Donna Poisl's publisher with an offer of free shipping until December 22, 2008. Here are the details:
Between today and 22 December, 2008, you will get free shipping on the spiral book and paperback book for all orders in the U.S.

Go to or to order a book.
Type A2007 or a2007 into the promotion code area and you will not pay any shipping charges.

If you want the book autographed, write what it should say and who it is for in the comments section and it will be autographed by the author.

If you prefer to send a money order or check, please email me and I will give you the address and total amount.

If you want quantity pricing for your organization, email me and I'll give you special prices and terms. ESL classes, companies, churches, community organizations are using this book to teach English in their advanced classes and at the same time help their people learn how to find the things they need to succeed in the U.S. Companies that sell to or employ immigrants are giving this book to their people.
Boxes of 48 books receive a discount of 50%. And shipping will be f-r-e-e!

Visit or

Please tell ALL your friends, relatives and co-workers about this special, too.

Thank you, Donna Poisl, author

12/01/2008 5:06 PM  

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