Prior to joining MOIA as Community Engagement Coordinator, Luidgi served as the Program Manager for 3 years at the Gilbert Albert Community Center (GACC), an English for New Bostonian (ENB)- funded non-profit dedicated to increasing the literacy and upward mobility of immigrant populations in Boston. Simultaneously, he worked with pre-collegiate programs at UMass Boston to mentor and tutor first and second-generation immigrant youth of Boston.
Luidgi now works with City departments, community-based organizations, legal service providers, and foreign consulates to serve the immigrant community. He also leads the Free Consultation Clinics and is the liaison for the Immigrant Information Corners at all 24 Boston Public Library (BPL) branches and 12 YMCA sites in Boston. These corners provide informational materials about immigration, financial empowerment, and other community resources.
Luidgi is a native speaker of French and Haitian Creole, and is also fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Cape Verdean Creole.
Luidgi shared his story during "Suitcase Stories: Boston Immigrants Unpack 2020".
Learn about Luidgi's story
By Luidgi Lalanne
Sundays have truly become my rest day. Saturday, I clean my room, wash and deep condition my hair, grocery shop, and cook for the next few days. On the first Sunday of December, I decide to kick back and catch up on a show that I stopped watching almost three years ago: I decide to do a “Teen Wolf” binge-a-thon!
In one episode, Scott, the werewolf, tells his best friend Stiles, the human, that he is worried about the upcoming senior year. When Stiles tells him that he has nothing to worry about, Scott asks him if he’d ever heard of “regression to the mean”. Simply put, it was his way of saying that life can't ever be all good or all bad; that eventually, things have to come back to the middle. For them, the last few months have been good (this is considering that no one's tried to kill them in six months) but it also means that things are going to get really good again...or really bad.
And as the episode continues, I start to think about 2020 and how hard it’s been for so many people. But it didn’t start out that way for me—I was going with the flow of a lot of positive transitions.
It’s January 2020 and I am getting ready to celebrate my birthday on the 11th with my cousin Rudolph, whose birthday is two days after mine. Coincidently, I start a new job as Community Engagement Coordinator at the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (MOIA) on the 13th. The job was particularly magical because I fell in love with the job during the application process; I was sold after speaking with Agnes, our Chief of Staff, who is originally from Hong Kong.
The first two months at MOIA are incredible. I am learning about different departments within City Hall that are more progressive than I would think. I am learning how to best advocate for fellow immigrants and am working with this passionate bunch of people. I just keep thinking how good I have it.
Things are great in my personal life too. In February, one set of cousins welcome their daughter to the world while another announces that they are expecting. And more good news comes in the last week of March.
We’re one week into working remotely. It is 7:30 am and I am still in bed, just waking up. But then, my phone buzzes. I decide to pick it up and I see that my cousin Rudolph shared a video on the family group chat of 30 people. The video begins with a slideshow highlighting great things from 2019, specifically regarding the newest generation of the family. Then, a scene begins where my cousin is being recorded while he reads a sonogram. His wife asks, “What letters do you see?” to which he answers, “A and...B? What does that mean?” It hits me right away and I start jumping, excited about the great news. “Twins, Rudolph, twins!” That made my day; and just when I thought things couldn't get any better, Rudolph, whom I’ve always looked up to, calls me personally and asks me to be the godfather to one of the twins. Which I accepted of course!
Then April comes.
I wake up on Monday. When the screen turns on, I read the words “we lost our uncle this morning.” At that moment, I look around my room...I want it to be a dream...but I call my cousin Brad, Rudolph’s younger brother, and he confirms it's true. He tells me that my uncle’s situation took a turn for the worst over the weekend and he passed while alone in the ICU. I can't imagine. We are all devastated and I take two days off of work. My colleagues are so kind and supportive—they help me gather funds for the funeral and I receive a personal call from Mayor Marty Walsh, expressing his condolences.
It is now the second week of April and our family is mourning this sudden loss when I receive another call from Rudolph who tells me that my great-aunt, his grandmother, just found out that her son passed. He also tells me that his mom caught the virus and they are concerned about his grandparents living in the same house as his mom in Brockton. At this point, I think about my parents and siblings, living only 5 blocks away from that house, and I am starting to worry about their safety, especially because I am not around to see them.
Two days later, his grandfather contracted the virus and he died the following day. I later learned from a relative that as his grandfather was being taken away in the ambulance, his wife was yelling out her husband’s name, “I don’t want to say goodbye yet. I know this is the last time I am seeing you. I don’t want it. No….” I can imagine her words echoing.
Now it’s the third week of April and family conversations revolve around the funerals. While talking about safety measures with my father one morning, he mentions that his brother, who was visiting from Haiti for medical reasons, had also returned to the hospital.
I could not let myself think he may have COVID. I tell my dad that I’m sure he will be okay and that we should remain positive while being patient. At least we had some reassurance that he was in for something else.
But I was wrong.
Two mornings later, a text reads, “We lost our uncle early this morning.” At that moment, I dropped my phone on the floor and felt a wave of panic, sadness, and anger hitting me all at once and all I kept saying was, “This is not fair! This is not fair.” I call my father—He is inconsolable but manages to tell me, “Please protect yourself my son, I cannot take another hit”. “Nor could I,” I think.
But the hits keep coming when my mother tells me she also lost an aunt. Why is this happening?
The whole month of May is marked by our family’s first steps to recovery from these series of deaths. As the teen werewolf had predicted...the scale had tipped. Things were not good. They were really bad. And now, I am determined to find the little source of happiness and be that for my family. One thing that helped was another cousin announcing that she is pregnant. My cousins decided to organize a Zoom call for the 30 of us in the group chat. We console each other but also play games to cheer each other up. One of my favorite games was calling out two people to find specific objects in their homes. The first one to bring the object wins. It’s so fun and we laugh at how competitive everyone gets.
Now it’s early June and we continue to search for joy. A small group gathers at Rudolph’s while most gather on Zoom for gender reveal parties. We cheer when the blue smoke shoots from the party favor announcing Rudophs’s twins. Later, we cheer again when an officer turns on blue lights on his cruiser outside my cousin’s house to announce another boy! (The officer was yet another cousin.) It was sweet. And not long after, the last cousin who announced that she was pregnant in May reveals that she’ll have a baby girl.
Since the end of 2020, a very interesting statement keeps ringing in my mind. “Four for four”—we lost three uncles and an aunt in 2020 and welcomed three nephews and one niece into the world. While we still mourn the loss of each relative, the birth of each of the babies have pushed me to appreciate the scale to tip back to the positive side of things.
Otè Luidgi Lalanne
Se pou tout bon dimanch tounen jou repo mwen. Nan samdi, mwen netwaye chanm mwen, mwen lave epi m byen rense cheve m, ale nan boutik, epi mwen fè manje pou kèk jou k ap vini yo. Premye dimanch nan mwa desanm lan, mwen deside pran yon repo epi m tou pwofite konsakre tan mwen nan yon emisyon m te sispann gade sa gen prèske twa lane: Binge-a-thon “Teen Wolf” !
Nan youn nan epizòd yo, Scott, lougawou an, di pi bon zanmi li a Stiles, ki se yon moun, li gen anpil sousi pou lòt ane a ki se tèminal. Lè Stiles di zanmi li a li pa bezwen fè sousi, Scott mande li si li pa te janm tande pale retounen nan reyalite a. Poupale pi senp, se te fason pa li pou fè lkonnen lavi a pa t ap janm ni bon oswa move nèt; finalman, bagay yo dwe balanse. Pou yo, dènye mwa yo te bon (yo konsidere pèsòn pa te eseye touye yo pandan sis mwa) men sa vle di tou bagay yo ap retounen bon anpil...oubyen move anpil.
Epi pandan epizòd la ap kontinye, mwen kòmanse panse ak ane 2020 an epi kijan li te difisil anpil pou anpil moun. Men li pa te kòmanse fason sa pou mwen—Mwen t ap mache sou rit anpil tranzisyon pozitif.
Nou nan mwa janvye 2020 epi m ap prepare mwen pou selebre anivèsè nesans mwen nan dat 11 janvye avèk kouzen mwen Rudolph, k ap fete de jou aprè mwen. Pa aza, mwen kòmanse yon nouvo travay antanke Kowòdonatè Angajman Kominotè (Community Engagement Coordinator) nan Biwo Majistra a Pou Avansman Imigran yo (Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement, MOIA) jou ki te 13 nan mwa a. Travay la te espesyal anpil paske mwen te santi m fou pou travay la depi nan pwosesis aplikasyon an; yo te aksepte mwen aprè m te fin pale avèk Agnes, Chèf Pèsonèl nou an, ki sòti Hong Kong.
De premye mwa yo nan MOIA te bèl anpil. Mwen aprann sou plizyè depatman andedan Meri a (City Hall) k ap fè plis pwogrè pase sa m te panse a. Mwen aprann ki jan pou yon moun defann imigran parèy ou yo pi byen epi m ap travay avèk anpil moun ki gen anpil pasyon. Mwen toujou ap panse sou kalite travay mwen.
Bagay yo ap byen pase nan lavi pèsonèl mwen tou. Nan mwa fevriye a, gen yon gwoup kouzen ki fenk fè pitit fi yo pandan gen yon lòt gwoup ki anonse madanm yo ansent. Epi pl bon nouvèl vini nan dènye semèn mwa mas lan.
Nou gentan kòmanse travay anliy depi yon semèn. Li fè 7:30 am epi mwen toujou nan kabann, mwen fenk reveye. Men apresa, telefòn mwen vin sonnen. Mwen deside dekwoche epi m wè kouzen mwen an ki rele Rudolph ki te pataje yon videyo nan gwoup chat fanmi an ki gen 30 moun ladan li. Videyo a kòmanse avèk yon montaj foto ki mete kèk gwo bagay ki te fèt pandan lane 2019 lan an valè, sitou bagay ki konsène nouvèl jenerasyon fanmi a. Apresa, gen yon sekans ki kòmanse kote y ap anrejistre kouzen mwen an k ap li yon sonografi. Madanm li mande, ''Ki lèt ou wè?'' epi li reponn, '' A ak ...B? Kisa sa vle di?'' Sa frape mwen menm kote a epi m kòmanse ponpe, mwen te kontan anpil pou bon nouvèl lan. ''Marasa, Rudolph, marasa!'' Sa te yon bon nouvèl pou jounen an; epi jis nan moman mwen te panse bagay yo pa t ap mache, Rudolph, m te toujou admire, rele m pèsonèlman epi mande m pou vin parenn youn nan marasa yo. Bagay mwen pa te ka refize!
Mwa avril lan kòmanse.
Mwen reveye jou nan lendi. Lè m limen ekran an, mwen li mo sa yo ''nou pèdi tonton nou maten an.'' Nan moman sa a, mwen gade tout kote chanm mwen an...Mwen vle panse se reve m ap reve...men mwen rele kouzen mwen an ki rele Brad, ki se ti frè Rudolph la, epi li di mwen se vre. Li di mwen tonton mwen te vin pi mal pandan wikenn lan epi li mouri pandan li te poukont li nan ICU a. Mwen pa ka imajine sa. Nou tout te boulvèse epi m pran de jou konje nan travay. Kolèg mwen yo jantiy epi solidè—yo ede mwen kolekte fon pou fineray la epi m resevwa yon apèl pèsonèl nan men Majistra Marty Walsh, ki te di mwen kondòleyans.
Kounya nou nan dezyèm semèn mwa avril lan epi fanmi nou te an dèy akoz moun sa ki mouri sanzatann lè mwen resevwa yon lòt apèl nan men Rudolph ki di mwen grann matant mwen, grann li, fèk aprann pitit li mouri. Li di m manman li pran viris lan epi yo gen pwoblèm pou gran paran yo k ap viv nan menm kay la ak manman li nan Brockton. Sou pwen sa a, mwen panse ak paran m yo ak frè m ak sè m yo, k ap viv 5 katye aprè kay sa, epi mwen ap kòmanse fè sousi sou sekirite yo, sitou paske mwen pa bò kote yo pou m wè yo.
De jou aprè sa, gran papa li pran viris la epi li mouri jou ki vin annapre a. Pita mwen te aprann nan men yon paran ki genyen gran papa li yo te vin pran nan yon anbilans, madanm li t ap kriye byen fò epi site non mari li, ''Mwen pa te ko vle di li orevwa. Mwen konnen se dènye fwa mwen ap wè w. Mwen pa vle sa. Non...'' Mwen ka imajine mo li yo sonnen fò.
Kounya nou nan twazyèm semèn mwa avril lan epi tout fanmi yo t ap pale sou sijè fineray la. Pandan nou t ap pran mezi sekirite avèk papa m yon jou maten, li site non frè li, ki te vizite Ayiti pou rezon medikal, te tou retounen nan lopital.
Mwen pa te kapab sispann panse se kapab COVID li genyen. Mwen di papa m mwen konnen ak tout kè mwen tout bagay ap anfòm epi n ap rete pozitif pandan n ap rete pasyan. Omwen, nou te vin asire paske li te pase nan yon lòt faz.
Men m pa te gen rezon.
De jou aprè, mwen jwenn yon tèks, ''Nou pèdi tonton nou bonè maten an.'' Nan moman sa a, mwen lage telefòn mwen atè epi m santi m gen pwoblèm, mwen tris, ak gen mwen fè yon sèl kolè epi m tonbe di, ''Sa pa posib! Sa pa posib.'' Mwen rele papa m—Li enkosolab epi li eseye di mwen, ''Tanpri, pwoteje tèt ou pitit gason m, mwen pa kapab pran yon lòt kou ankò''. ''Ni mwen tou,''mwen panse.
Men frap yo ap vini lè manman m di m li pèdi matant li tou. Poukisa se konsa bagay yo ap pase?
Tout mwa me a make premye pa yo pou fanmi nou soti nan kalite lanmò sa yo. Jan j&n ti lougawou an te gentan di sa...balans lan te panche. Bagay yo pa te bon. Yo te terib anpil. Epi kounya, mwen detèmine pou jwenn ti sous kontantman epi pou fanmi mwen patisipe tou. Yon sèl bon nouvèl nou te resevwa se lè yon lòt kouzin te anonse li ansent. Kouzin mwen te deside fè yon apèl Zoom pou 30 pami nou nan gwoup chat la. Nou youn ap konsole lòt men te jwe jwèt ansnam tou pou nou youn bay lòt kouraj. Youn nan jwèt mwen pi renmen yo te mande pou de moun pou jwenn kèk atik espesifik andedan lakay yo. Premye moun ki te pote atik lan genyen. Li bay anpil plezi epi nou chak ap ri sou jan tout moun te fè konkirans.
Kounya mwa jen fèk kòmanse epi nou kontinye ap chache lajwa. Yon ti gwoup reyini lakay Rudolph lan pandan majorite a reyini nan Zoom pou devwale sèks. Nou vin gen kè kontan lè lafimen ble vin ap jayi nan fèt la ki anonse sèks marasa Rudolph yo. Pita, nou kontan ankò lè yon ofisye limen limyè ble machin li a devan kay kouzen m an pou anonse yon lòt gason! (Ofisye sa se te yon lòt kouzen nou.) Se te bèl bagay. Epi pa twò lontan, dènye kouzen ki te anonse li te ansent nan mwa me a di li pral fè yon tifi.
Depi fen ane 2020 an, yon deklarasyon ki enteresan anpil pa janm sispann pase nan tèt mwen. ''Kat pou kat''—nou te pèdi twa tonton ak yon matant pandan ane 2020 an epi gen twa neve ak yon nyès ki fèt. Pandan nou toujou an dèy pou chak paran, nesans chak bebe te pouse m apresye echèl pou panche kote pozitif bagay yo.