Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month: Meet Daniela

June is National Immigrant Heritage Month! Now is the time to reflect on the cultured, lively melting pot America has turned into thanks to the immigrants that have infused their culture into the United States.

“The basic idea of welcoming immigrants to our shores is central to our way of life — it is in our DNA.  We believe our diversity, our differences, when joined together by a common set of ideals, makes us stronger, makes us more creative, makes us different.  From all these different strands, we make something new here in America.”
— President Barack Obama, July 4, 2014

According to Katherine Vargas of the White House Director of Hispanic Media on her website, America has earned its honored nickname as the “melting pot” for all of the immigrants that have come and shared their cultural values into the United States’ “communities, economy,” and “vibrant diversity”.

Each individual immigrant has added another distinct element of flavor into the country we like to call home that defines each and every community settled in its land. Here in Chattanooga, our community has become another ingredient added into this rich country. One model of a valued immigrant of Chattanooga is CNE’s own Daniela Peterson!

Daniela Peterson

from Rancagua, Chile

Daniela Paz Peterson is the Community Engagement Specialist here at CNE, and works with the neighborhoods of Highland Park and Ridgedale to bridge cultural divides and create economic opportunity through creating fun and interesting events and projects.

Daniela's homeland is the most southern part of South America, Chile. She grew up in the driest desert in the world "El Desierto de Atacama" (Atacama desert). From a family of five, she is the eldest of her two brothers. Since she was a girl she enjoyed traveling and meeting people. She was and is curious about how people related each other. This curiosity took her to study Social Work in the most wonderful city of her country, Valparaíso. After finishing her degree she started working in juvenile facilities and then in an international nonprofit where she got to travel around the country. Because she enjoyed what she was doing she studied Public Policy and Children Rights.

Daniela also co-founded a storytelling collective called Coming to America. The group is comprised of Chattanooga's refugee and immigrant communities. They believe in the idea of an America that is devoted to inclusion, and that recognizes all peoples of the globe.  Daniela met her husband Paul in the US while she was traveling, and they reconnected in Chile when he moved there a few years later. They've been married for two years.

If you would like to read more perspectives on others that have come to America, click here to read more stories of how America has become what it is today.