Country/place of origin:
Year of immigration:
City and State where they settled in the United States:
What was your motivation for migrating to the United States from Nigeria?
The motivation was to have good life( to find greener pastures). Economic motivation: Economic hardship has been a powerful “push” factor for me. Economic hardship led to my migration to the U.S. From the very earliest days, economic opportunity in America, even in the absence of economic hardship in the homeland, has been a “pull” factor. Jobs and a Better Standard of Living: Wage disparities and buying power in my homelands as compared to those levels in the U.S. provide strong motivation for me to seek to come here for employment.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE AMERICA INSTEAD OF SOMEWHERE ELSE?
Because America is a land of dreams, where anyone can hit the big time if they work hard enough. It’s a place where success is celebrated, positivity is a way of life and opportunity is a reality. America’s sense of optimism and positivity is very refreshing. It’s what made America great and it’s this ‘can do’ attitude which ensures the USA has a bright future. Higher incomes and great work opportunities. I came to the U. S. because I perceived it as the land of economic opportunity.
WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART ABOUT LEAVING?
The most difficult part was saying goodbye to my friends I grew up with (leaving friendships I’ve carefully nurtured over the years in college). The thought of leaving behind familiarity – particularly close family and established friendships sent me into a blind panic before even setting foot on a plane. Because it is tough decision to make.
To pack my belongings was also very challenging. Deciding what to pack and how to pack, purchase packing materials could take days or even weeks, depending on how many belongings you have. Trying to fit your life into a couple of suitcases is very difficult. Much of my stuff was left behind for someone else to benefit from.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN YOU FIRST ARRIVED AND MOST SURPRISED YOU THE MOST.
It has been the craziest adventure I’ve ever had. I was excited to see the airport covered with snow. My first impression was that it looked like a fairy tale. I felt a sense of freedom, though there was both fear and joy in the back of my mind.
Every restaurant in the U.S gives you free water. Yes, I am really surprised because in Nigeria they won’t serve you water for free, you either have to pay for it or buy it from the supermarkets. “I was surprised by the freedom people have. They are not shy to do what they want. I was also surprised by how many homeless people are there because I thought there are no homeless people in the US. I thought every human has a home.
MIGRATION CAN BE HARD. WHERE DID YOU FIND STRENGTH IN DIFFICULT TIMES?
I know people can get stuck in various phases of the immigration process. But I was very passionate about getting into this land where I believe is filled with great opportunities. And also, the encouragement from my friend and his wife made me feel stronger and helped me to push forward. I have a firm belief that if you want something hard enough, it is worth fighting for. Anything too easy can sometimes slip through your fingers, but when you fight for something, your grip is much stronger.
HOW DO YOU THINK THAT MIGRATION HAS CHANGED YOU?
Immigrating to United States has changed my life in a lot of other ways. It’s changed my personality, my way of seeing things because I am in a new country now. I am learning their language, their culture, attempting to assimilate yourself into this new society that is different to the one you were in before. But to ask what are the changes, apart from the obvious physical and environmental ones it’s hard to tell. Change is a part of life, there is no guarantee that my personality wouldn’t have changed if I had stayed in Nigeria. I changed my job, a change of career, weather, culture, language and going from a huge social circle and intensely interesting life to all work and no play.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES?
Employment opportunities. Securing work
Securing housing (Getting a place has been a very big challenge to me because of lack of local knowledge on how the housing market works in your new country)
Access to local services. Transportation issues. Cultural differences
Racism and stereotyping
WHO DID YOU COME WITH AND WHO DID YOU LEAVE BEHIND? DID ANYONE COME AHEAD
I came alone and left my parents at home. I had to come alone because I was coming for school and it was a single visa. No one came ahead of me. I had no family here, but met a few people online prior to coming that I made connections and friendships with so that I would not be all alone… despite being alone.
WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO ACCOMPLISH IN THE FUTURE?
My hope for the future is to eventually get married and have a family. I am in the process of starting my own business so that I can live the American Dream, and naturally, a family would only follow.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE MIGRATING TO AMERICA?
I would tell someone migrating to this Country that while America is great there’s nothing like home. America does offer opportunities for growth and development but what it lacks is the culture that we are accustomed to. Assimilation Is real, and we must be aware of it. Stay strong in your beliefs and tour cultural norms that make you who you are and benefit from the norms and gifts that America has to offer. Finding your place in America can be a challenge. Everything is more expensive, and the way of life is vastly different… but in America you have an opportunity to make a difference that is not easily done within your own country. Coming to America isn’t A recipe for instant success but what it is: an opportunity to learn and develop your skills that will allow you to create your own business or work for someone else’s and make more money than you ever imagined. Life is easier in some ways, but do not set your expectations too high, manage those expectations and trust in your instincts throughout the way.
IF SOMEONE DECIDES TO MIGRATE TO THE UNITED STATES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU TELL THEM?
I think that coming to America is something that I will always appreciate. Like I have stated America has so much to offer and if you know how to benefit from that you’ll do great. The reality is that coming to America can me and generational change in a positive way for your family. While you may make sacrifices along the way, the benefits far outweigh the consequences. I would not change my mind for anything because it has changed my life, and the future lives of my children.
Stephen was interviewed by a friend, Charmaine Rogers.