10 Famous Immigrants

Immigration is defined by Oxford dictionary as the process of coming to live permanently in a country that is not your own. We see immigration in our daily lives, and we wonder what it is like being in their shoes. People run from wars, bad environment and to find a better, calmer life. The people listed are lucky enough to have made something from their talents and to succeed in life:

  1. Dalai Lama: His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso is the spiritual leader of Tibet. In 1959, following the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops, he was forced to escape into exile and has since been living in Dharamsala, northern India.

Photo by Christopher Michel
  1. Albert Einstein, Germany: In 1940, he passed his citizenship test and became an American citizen. To commemorate the occasion, he gave a speech on the government-run “I Am an American” radio show, which worked to promote the inclusion of immigrants.

  1. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austria: On September 16, 1983, Arnold Schwarzenegger became a U.S. citizen along with 2,000 other people at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. And although it has been over 35 years since that day, Schwarzenegger still expresses love for his adopted country.

Photo by Gage Skidmore
  1. Bob Marley, Jamaica: He was born in Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica and in 1966 his Jamaican roots were cemented in the US after he moved to Wilmington, Delaware briefly to be close to his mother. He discovered a profound interest in Rastafarianism when he moved back to Jamaica. Many attribute this sudden interest to his mother. He grew his dreadlocks, his signature look, and moved to London but toured the US and London after his recording contract with Island Records in 1972. He never had a permanent residence in the US, but discovered he had cancer in his toe while on tour there which spread like wildfire through his body.

  1. Freddie Mercury, Zanzibar: The Zanzibar Revolution broke out on January 12, 1964. It was an attempt to bring down the long-standing economic inequality since the most privileged and wealthiest people in Zanzibar were either Arab or South Asian. After several months of slaughter, more than 20,000 Arabs were murdered along with thousands of Indians. Tens of thousands had fled the island, searching for safety. The Bulsara family was among those who left Zanzibar during the violence. They moved to Feltham, England. Mercury became a registered citizen of the United Kingdom on June 2, 1969, the same year he graduated from Ealing Art School where he studied art and design. The next year, Mercury joined guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor’s band Smile, which became the rock band that would grow to become one of the single most famous bands of all time: Queen. It was at this time that Farrokh Bulsara changed his name to Freddie Mercury.

  1. Charles Chaplin 1889-1977, Great Brittan: He was accused of communist sympathies, and some members of the press and public found his involvement in a paternity suit, and marriages to much younger women, scandalous. An FBI investigation was opened, and Chaplin was forced to leave the United States and settle in Switzerland.
  1. Maria Sharapova 1987, Russia: In 2004, a 17-year-old Sharapova defeated reigning tennis champion Serena Williams in the Grand Slam at Wimbledon. Sharapova came to the U.S. as a child with her father, escaping the fallout at Chernobyl, with no prospects and little money. The family would be separated for 2 years until her mother could gain a visa to join them. Maria began hitting tennis balls at 4 and by 6 was in Moscow for an exhibition featuring Martina Navratilova. Possibilities abound for this young, talented tennis star.
Photo by Tatiana from Moscow, Russia
  1. Mario Andretti 1940, Italy: Sports. The race car driver saw the Italian Grand Prix at Monza as a small child. He left war-torn Italy in 1955 with his family and came to Pennsylvania. Andretti began racing with his twin brother, Aldo, who later quit after serious injury. Mario went on to win NASCAR’s Daytona 500 in 1967.

Photo by Sarah Stierch
  1. Luka Dončić, 1999: Born in Ljubljana, Dončić shone as a youth player for Union Olimpija before joining the youth academy of Real Madrid. In 2018, Dončić declared for the NBA draft, joining the Dallas Mavericks. He was selected unanimously to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and won Rookie of the Year for the 2018–19 season.

Photo by Erik Drost
  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 1977: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an award-winning, bestselling author and MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow whose work has been translated into more than 30 languages. Her work tackles themes such as politics, religion, and love in contexts such as the Nigerian Civil War, the immigrant experience in the United States and feminism. At the age of 19, Adichie left Nigeria for a scholarship in the United States. She graduated summa cum laude in communication and political science from Eastern Connecticut State University and went on to earn master’s degrees in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University and African Studies from Yale University, all while writing and publishing.

Photo by Nwabu2010

These are some of the people that changed the world and are changing it right now. It is amazing what they have achieved.

This video was prepared by Mojca Krajnc & Manca Sverc in the frame of the “The Heart of a City” project funded by ACF Slovenia. Read more about the project.


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Written by Lara Vujkovac


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