Our interviewee today is Britta Pedersen, from Dusseldorf, Germany.
What motivated you to come to the United States? “I was motivated by the desire to learn English. In Germany, I was working as a dental hygienist but wanted to improve myself, and learning another language was a good tool to achieve this goal. I came here almost 28 years ago as a nanny, a job that allowed me to study. I really liked the country and over time, I met my husband, a wonderful man whose parents are also immigrants. We got married and we have two children of whom I am very proud. We have both tried to be a good example for them. They have grown up in diversity and have seen how their father and I have improved ourselves with hard work.”
Tell me a little more about your work history? “After being a nanny, I worked in a restaurant for two years, then as a school bus driver, a position that allowed me to spend more time with my two children, but after ten years, I found myself wanting to continue growing and so I decided to start the adventure of obtaining my real estate license.”
How did that idea of change come about? “My husband has been in construction for many years and that is why I was always familiar with the environment. On the other hand, I had a friend who, like me, was looking for something different that would give us the opportunity to evolve economically and at the same time, enjoy our work. That’s how the dream team was born. I got my license first and three years later, she did. We started with a leading real estate company, with whom we worked for more than a decade and now we have our own real estate company, Dream House Realty.”
What made you decide to become independent and start your own company? “Everything in life has a cycle and we had completed ours. We had to take a new path and that is how after a few years, we returned to open an office at 403 Main Street, Danbury. This week, we celebrate a year of being back in a community that knows us, that we are proud to belong to and contribute to its development.”
What do you like most about your work in real estate? “The opportunity to help others buy that place they will call home. We all deserve to have our own house, a place where our children can grow, and where they can play in the safety of their own garden. Houses tell the story of their owners in each of their walls, portraits, the improvements we make to them little by little or the moments we lived in them. They also constitute a message for the children. You let them know that they will always have a place. During these years, I understood how important it is not only to do your job but to give your best. We have had many clients who come to this area because they have been relocated for work reasons. We not only get them their first house to rent but also guide them so that they can go to the right people and get their driver’s license or any other documents they require. On the other hand, we also teach them how to become owners of their own house.”
What has been the most difficult part of being an immigrant? “I think the most difficult thing was to trust. In my culture. it takes time for you to call someone a friend. Let’s say we’re not as friendly as in America. People do not try talking to you without someone introducing you first.”
What do you miss from Germany? “I miss my family, food and beer. Although it’s been so many years, I still don’t forget those flavors.”
What is the best thing that has happened to you in this country? “The fact that both my husband and I have our own business. We own our house and we have the opportunity to send our children to the university, things that in Germany, we surely would not have achieved. This is the country of opportunities; I am living proof of it.”
What would your final message be to our readers? “If you decide to live in America, then live in the American style. With this, I do not mean that you should forget your roots, but rather learn the language and adapt. Value how much this country has to give to you.”
María Danniella Gutiérrez-Salem practiced law in Venezuela before going after her own American Dream and becoming a writer in the United States. mdgutier@gmail.