If you talk to any immigrant of refugee living in the United States, their response to the question of why they moved to the country is almost always the same. For a chance to improve their life and the lives of their families and children. The youth of these refugee and immigrant families are given once in a lifetime opportunity to move out of their home countries to have a shot at a better education and quality of life.
Gentille Gihoza moved to the US when she was 8 years old. After living most of her life in the country of Uganda, her family was selected by the government to move to the United States for a chance at a better life. However, the journey came with its own set of challenges. The first being the amount of paperwork and medical requirements one had to complete in order to move to the US. Secondly, Gentille faced a personal bump on her journey. She had food poisoning which her mother was forced to hide from the government or else they would risk losing their ticket out of Uganda. So, she had to be treated in secrecy and the experience still remains in her memory today. This story showed me how determined Gentille’s family was, something that is seen in so many refugee families. Despite the challenges and hardships, they did not stop or give up even once.
As with many children and teenager who immigrate to a new country, Gentille also faced a similar sense of isolation in her new country. Along with leaving her friends and grandmother behind, she was unfamiliar to the languages and people around her. At first, she described the country as ‘a different planet’, complete with tall buildings and sprawling roads. she also had the unfortunate luck of landing up in a school that did not help her new situation much. Gentile talked about how she faced a lot of bullying in this new school which, alongside her inexperience with the English language, made her transition to the new country much harder. Some of the teachers turned a blind eye to the incidents and the bullies faced minimal punishments. This forced her to move schools because, according to Gentille, the other school gave off too many “bad vibes.”
When asked about any final piece of advice she would give to another refugee youth who is moving to the US, she reinforced the importance of learning the language. Knowing English makes the move much easier; I can personally vouch for that as someone who knew English well before moving to the US. Gentille also talked about making friends who could help you learn the American ways of life. Having a support system, especially if they happen to be from the same country as you are, makes your experience much better.
With this being said, Gentille’s story is an inspiring one. She says that her life, since moving to the US, has become much better. She has gotten many more educational opportunities and accomplishments since she moved here. Her quality of life has become better, and she talked about how she is grateful for the chance she got to live here. Even with all her setbacks, she made sure she emphasized how much she valued the chance to live here. Her story can be a guide to other immigrant or refugee youth who move to the US. Her perseverance and positivity are what helped her become the person she is today, even under sudden or less-than-ideal circumstances.