“It’s hard to be an immigrant and be away from your family for so long and know that even though there’s so much here that we are really grateful for, we really have that constant tugging feeling. For one thing, we are a little bit out of place here. And the people that we feel we are meant to be around constantly are a million miles away and for them to come here would require enormous amounts of money and lawyers’ fees. I don’t know about other countries where other people come from. I know there are a lot of surprise fees along the way. I mean that’s a huge part of planning to immigrant.
I was born in Burundi, Africa in 1991. I am 25 years old. I moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas where my dad was in graduate school. Later, I moved to Austin, Texas, and then New York, then back to Texas. Then I went to boarding school in Massachusetts. Finally, I went to college in Portland. Now I am a teacher in Eugene, Oregon. I have been really lucky in my life. My parents valued education. My mom really encouraged me and helped me throughout school and fostered and instilled in me the love of learning. I feel like I’ve been incredibly lucky in coming to Oregon. But there were many times, too, when I felt like my identity was challenged in ways that I was not comfortable with especially when integrating with different communities in the U.S. I have gone through a whole series of growing pains trying to understand my relationship with black and white America. How do I fit into that? And how do people receive me? But I have also gone through big changes in how I react to things. My assimilation is fluid. There are some things I don’t want to assimilate into and I hold onto my Burundi identity. There are also other things I love. I have no choice and no reason to choose one. I don’t have to choose, because – I have dual identities. And I don’t want to choose.”