CIANA Intern Spotlight: Antoni Tenecela

Antoni Tenecela says that working at CIANA has been eye-opening and a way to tap into his roots. Photo: Maria Eliades

Astoria, NY -Antoni has been an intern at CIANA for two months, having started in September 2018. For him, the motivation to work at CIANA was largely personal. Born in the US to immigrant parents, growing up Antoni didn’t really think about the culture and identity that his parents had left behind. Antoni says that’s ultimately why he came to CIANA.

“This seemed like a really good opportunity to at least be involved with immigrants,” he says. “It feels good to at least do something just being, I guess, ignorant of my own roots.”

The past few months have been an illuminating experience for Antoni, who had the chance to see first hand how hard others must work to attain citizenship, which is a reality that most citizens are privileged to never think about. He talked about one particular client that really stuck with him: a woman who was struggling to renew her visa and take care of her sick son at the same time, all while living under the constant threat of deportation.

“She couldn’t leave her son with anyone,” Antoni says. “That’s a pretty tough situation. That’s not something that really comes across your mind, that there are people here that are dealing with some serious issues.”

Speaking to his experience here, Antoni loves the approachable atmosphere at CIANA, saying that it’s what sets this organization apart from others in similar fields. As for the impact he’s had, Antoni hopes that by the end of his time here, he will have at least contributed to making the clients’ requests easier and getting them closer to what they need from CIANA.

In the meantime as Thanksgiving draws closer, he tries to remain grateful for what he has in life.

“I’m happy that I still have a home, a roof over my head. That’s basically the simplest that I can put it. Because it's nice that no matter how stressed I get, I can just go home, and lie down and just relax; even just a little bit because it’s just a place of comfort.”