‘Highlighting Immigrant Voices’ series features local immigrants

Interviewees in The Times mini video series share their experiences before, during, and since arriving on Martha’s Vineyard.


The Times has published a four-part series, “Highlighting Immigrant Voices,” featuring 20-minute compilations of recent discussions with Island immigrants. 

The series is produced and edited by Adarsh Bhat, a Times intern from Mumbai, India.

Episode one, “Introducing the Immigrants,” explores the backgrounds of the project’s seven interviewees.

Topics discussed include adjusting to Northeast winters, the experience of running a business on-Island, culture shock, love, and family.

Interviewees include María Clara Villota, a retired ESL teacher from Edgartown School who emigrated from Quindío, Colombia. Villota arrived in the Southern U.S. 42 years ago, and came to the Vineyard 30 years ago with her husband and child, with another child on the way. “I was just learning to be a caretaker, a mother, working. So I was so busy that I did not feel bored. I did not feel alone,” recalls Villota.

Marnely Murray, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is a founder of Shored Up Digital, a Vineyard-based social media management and digital marketing agency. Murray arrived in the States in upstate New York, after leaving home for the first time to attend culinary school at the age of 24. “I remember my parents saying goodbye to me … in the Dominican Republic you don’t leave your parents’ home until you’re married.”

Other interviewees include strength and conditioning coach and landscaper José Sanabria, from Mexico City, and owner of Vineyard Haven’s Ackee Tree Alexia Wynter-Ebanks, from Manchester Parish, Jamaica, and Ontario, Canada.

Episode two, titled “The Transition,” focuses on overcoming initial language barriers, escaping unsafe situations, coming to feel at home on-Island, and much more.

Pricila Vilaça, from Minas Gerais, Brazil, an outreach coordinator for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, remarks in the episode on seeing immigrants from all over Brazil on the Island.

Lorena Crespo, from Guayaquíl, Ecuador, an ESL teacher at Edgartown School, shares her positive experience with English immersion, gained while working at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.

Elio Silva, also from Minas Gerais, and the owner of Vineyard Grocer, discusses navigating restrictive police presence near his earlier grocery in Brazil. Silva also reflects upon the relative lack of harmful bureaucracy in owning Vineyard Grocer.

Episode three, “Finding Housing, Defining Home,” discusses difficulties in achieving Vineyard housing, and the experience of establishing oneself as an immigrant.

In this episode, Villota shares her sadness regarding the decreasing affordability of housing on the Vineyard over time, and remarks on the need for people to look out for community members.

Many interviewees, including Crespo, Sanabria, and others, reflect on how trends in housing affordability have significantly changed the experience of immigrating to the Vineyard.

The final episode of the series features a sit-down interview with Silva, who has opened several businesses on the Island.

The videos appear on The Times YouTube page, youtube.com/@TheMarthasVineyardTimes.


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