Most of you have likely dealt with our shipping manager Jael Freeman over the years. But what you probably don’t know is that Jael just became an American citizen and she has a fascinating and inspiring story. We are very proud of Jael here at MWS and would like you to meet our new American citizen.
Meet Our New American Citizen: An Interview with Jael
Where were you born and raised? I was born and raised in Georgetown Guyana which is in South America.
What was your life like in Guyana? Life in Guyana growing up was awesome, fun and also contrasting at times; however, with 5 siblings, a blended stepfamily, the activities of the school and just living everyday life, my childhood and the adolescent stage was full of fun and exploration.
Describe life with your blended family? I would say I lived with both my Mom and Dad. During the summer and holidays, I spent at my Dad’s house and the rest of the year I spent at my Mom’s house. The moments spent at my Dad’s, who was an entrepreneur, were the absolute best part of growing up. I felt more free and able to do anything I wanted to and be my authentic self. It was at my Dad’s house (during those amazing hot summers and holidays) that my love for wanting to be an American Citizen developed.
Life with my Mom, who was a homemaker, was very restrictive. It is a religious, conservative home where the church was the most important thing. I still had fun there too but it was the “don’t question God or the church” that bothered me. There was always a biblical explanation for things that piqued my interest and the answers given just created more questions and those answers didn’t mesh with what I was observing and feeling at the time.
Looking back, I think that living arrangement has provided me with a sense of balance that I couldn’t put into perspective then. I’ve come to realize it was all for my benefit and I am appreciating the lessons I learned in both homes.
Meet Our New American Citizen: Education
What Languages do you speak? English is the only language I speak; however, in high school, it’s mandatory to learn at least 1 foreign language to move to the next grade. This was a contrasting experience for me because I just didn’t get the point. We all speak English so why learn another language? I took Spanish just so I could move to the next class, but I never retained any of it. Fun Fact: Guyana is the only English speaking country on the South American Continent. (Editors Note: At work and in life apparently, Jael frequently uses the term “Fun Fact” before she is going to provide you with some information she deems important. It amuses us.)
What sort of education have you had? In Guyana, I went to Elementary School, Junior High and High School. Then I went to Computer School and Nursing School. In America I attended Borough of Manhattan Community College. Fun Fact: I always did very well in school and my teachers would tell my parents I was very bright but that I talk too much. I still love to talk. (Editors Note: We can confirm that Jael loves to talk!)
Meet Our New American Citizen: Coming To America
Why did you want to come to America? I believe my love for open-mindedness and the ability to BE or DO anything I wanted to was the drive behind my wanting to come to America.
When did you first come to America? I came to America on May 25th, 2008.
What was it like stepping on American soil for the first time, were you nervous? Oh no, it gives me chills to remember it. I was so happy and excited. I just couldn’t believe I was really in America.
Meet Our New American Citizen: The Road To Citizenship
Why did you want to become an American citizen? It was important for me to become an American citizen because I want to be part of the American dream. Moving here was life-changing for me. I was 21 years old. I had already experienced a whole lot of life and the dream of just being here on the soils of the USA was just overwhelming. The emotions of exhilaration and questions all running through me at that time were powerful and I was just mostly happy I made it this far. So when I decided to complete the process and become an American citizen, it was just the icing on the cake.
How long did the citizenship process take? The process took a bit long for me. It took almost 2 years. I started the process in June 2017 and completed it in February 2019 when I was sworn in at the ceremony, which was beautiful by the way. (Editors Note: MWS co-owner Cheryl Kilbourne-Kimpton and I attended the ceremony and it was very moving. More about that later.)
What is the best thing about being an American Citizen? Being a part of this experiment that is America. Our founding fathers believed that its citizens had the right to voice what it is they wanted for themselves and their country. They put checks and balances in place so we can all benefit from this beautiful land. The fact that this is the place where free thinking is allowed, you are able to BE, DO or HAVE anything you want. That is the best thing ever, (just as good as the invention of sliced bread.)
Now as I’m learning through my life’s journey, anything is possible as long as you focus on what you’re wanting no matter where you live in the world. However, America just embodies and demonstrates that better to me than any other place in the world. America allows it’s citizens to express that phrase in every way possible. Also, I’m now able to participate in the democratic process.
Meet Our New American Citizen: Life In New York.
Where do you live in New York? I live in Ridgewood. It is a very diverse neighborhood in Queens and it’s full of life and promise for anyone who lives there.
What was your first job in the U.S.? My first job was Macy’s, as a seasonal worker. Funny how I’d always wanted to shop there and be a part of the Christmas festivities when I was growing up in Guyana, but now I work a few blocks away and hardly ever visit. It’s a bit touristy for me now.
Meet Our New American Citizen: Work At MWS
How long have you worked at MWS? I’ve worked at MWS for a little over 3 years and it’s been an awesome, eye-opening experience for my growth since I’ve been in the U.S. I’ve had a few jobs over the past 11 years since I’ve been living in New York and MWS is the best job I’ve had. And no, I’m not just saying that, it really has been an amazing trip since I started working here. First off, the people I work with are hilarious as well as exasperating at times. But, I would never change it for any other job in the world (unless it’s my own company), we are family. I’ve seen the most growth in my life since I’ve been working at MWS and that’s why it is the best place I’ve worked since moving here.
What special skills do you have that make you good at your job? Working at MWS has helped me to understand a phrase I heard about 7 years ago at my first e-commerce/operations job. The phrase was “be proactive, rather than reactive and if that’s not possible at the moment, dissolve then resolve.” I never understood the meaning that much but through each job, it has slowly become clearer. It was when I started at MWS that I started to truly get the big picture about what that phrase really means.
I believe I bring a sense of calmness and resolution to any issues or concerns that anyone has related to my job. I love solving problems and puzzles and I love things to be organized and neat which brings out a better workflow for myself and the people I work with on a daily basis. I’m not sure everyone will concur with that statement, but I truly believe I take things by the moment and embrace contrast wherever it comes from, learn from it and move on. It’s to help us all grow.
What brings you joy/or favorite part of work? I’ve learned so much about myself in these past 3 years. I often wonder why I wasn’t doing half the things I do now, much earlier in my life. My work family has helped me to see myself and the growth I’ve experienced so far is phenomenal.
Also, it’s the interaction with everyone that I enjoy most at work. Everyone fascinates me, from my fellow co-workers to the building management, personnel, and our customers. Every day is a new experience and a new adventure.
What don’t you like or would change at work? I would change ME coming in to work ON TIME! It’s something I’ve been struggling with for as long as I can remember and I would say I’m improving, however, my time stamp will suggest otherwise. I know I spend way too much time over-analyzing things, especially in the mornings because I’m a perfectionist at heart. It’s the time I love to reflect and appreciate the new day mentally of course. Then while getting ready for work I “spin round, spin round too much” (a statement my stepdad often told me while I was growing up.) Then before you know it 30 minutes has gone by and I’m still not showered. I am working on getting better though, it’s just taking a much longer time than I expected. So there you have it, it’s the only thing I would change.
Do you have a favorite product at MWS? Let’s face it, MWS is the treasure of Manhattan that you never knew you wanted to dig up. We have so many great products it’s hard to choose just one or even 2, so I’ll give you my top 5:
- Makeup sponges: Our makeup sponges are the bomb (I’m actually low on those and need to restock my beauty kit.)
- B.O.B. Odor Blocker: I love it because everyone wants to smell nice or have no smell at all.
- Storage Containers: wonderful for small items around the house
- MWS Wig Caps: I love them because they are not too snug on your head while wearing your wigs.
- Giella: It’s a custom blend makeup we carry. I love Giella’s lipsticks. Fun Fact: You can have any lipstick custom made or recreated by the lovely Erica any Thursday or Friday. Call to set up an appointment.
What would you be doing professionally if you weren’t so fulfilled working at MWS? Probably a teacher, but I’m not sure what I would teach or a public speaker.
Meet Our New American Citizen: Jael’s Favorite Things
What is your favorite food from Guyana? Bitter melon and okra. It can be raw, stewed, boiled or fried. Any and all preparation is fine by me. It is served with rice, bread or any type of starch or by itself.
What is your favorite American Food? Grilled Cheese sandwiches! I’m obsessed with these and make them whenever I can.
What is your favorite restaurant in New York City? My own kitchen! I love cooking and I hardly eat out especially for dinner. I do order lunch during the week at work (usually the same thing-Thai vegetable basil fried rice). My kitchen is where I’m the happiest and creative. I can whip up a great meal with random things from the refrigerator and it would taste bomb. I definitely prefer cooking to eating out.
Do you have any hobbies? Reading is my first love but as I mentioned I find it very pleasing to create in the kitchen. So just like cooking food, my hobby is creating or (cooking up) natural skin and hair concoctions.
Since I started embracing my natural hair texture, I began experimenting with everyday items found in the kitchen. I made some deep conditioner using avocado, yogurt and honey mixed together and applied to my hair. My hair became beautiful and soft. In addition to that I branched into making a styling cream for my hair, experimenting with mango butter, shea butter, avocado oils and the likes and that worked too.
I then applied the same concept to my skincare and today 90% of the beauty care products I use are created in my own kitchen. I’ve gotten so good at creating products that work for my skin and hair that when I’m not reading, I’m constantly thinking of different recipes I can come up with that are natural and healthy. Being in the kitchen creating good food for my whole body is one of the most joyous things for me to do. (Editors Note: For Christmas Jael gave us all body butter that she’d created and it was truly wonderful!)
What book are you reading? I’m currently reading 2 books, 1 on audible and 1 physical. The audible book is a Seth Book: Seth Speaks The Eternal Validity of the Soul by Jane Roberts. The physical book is also a Seth Book: Dreams, Evolution and Value Fulfillment by Jane Roberts.
What is your favorite movie? Lord of the Rings (all 3 movies)
What is the best advice you ever got? To “Trust myself”. Fun Fact: I did a past life regression therapy session and while I was hypnotized I gave myself that advice.
What advice would you give your younger self? I would tell my younger self to stop worrying “Everything is always working out for you.”
Meet Our New American Citizen: The Ceremony
Editors Note: Jael’s citizenship ceremony was held at Brooklyn Federal Court and the oath was administered by a District Judge. The Judge said he was a third-generation Italian and his family came to America in search of a better life for their families.
He said ” The men and women who will become citizens today and the thousands who are naturalized every year have given up everything, their countries, families and homes. It was hard work, hope and relentless faith in this American dream of immigrants that built this country and made it great.”
The ceremony was a very moving and inspiring experience!
All-new American citizens must take the following Oath of Allegiance:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
The Oath of Allegiance is only administered in the English language.