Yvonne Mwale – From Zambia to Germany

This past semester, I was in an African music class and did a presentation on the Zambian musician, Yvonne Mwale. After doing some preliminary research, I quickly realized that Yvonne was sharing an incredible life story through her music, and creating some utterly moving pieces that touched me both emotionally and spiritually. I reached out to her via social media to see if she was interested in speaking with me so I could learn more, and have since created a podcast that features our interview and some of her songs.

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Mukena Kasongo “Deogracias” – From the Democratic Republic of Congo to the United States

As a mentor to first-year students at my college last Fall, I was lucky enough to have Mukena Kasongo “Deogracias” as one of my students. She was charming and inquisitive, and impressively fluent in French, English, Swahili, and Lingala. Now that we are in an African Music course together, we took the time to speak about her immigration story from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the barriers that she has overcome to be a successful and inspirational college student. 

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Tasha Mwanakalando – From Zambia to the United States

When I first arrived on Washington & Jefferson Campus in 2018, I almost immediately knew who Tasha Mwanakalando was. Everyone on campus regarded her with respect, and just from a few conversations with her, I knew that she was a truly genuine and caring person (with the most style I had ever seen). Coming from Lusaka, Zambia, Tasha provided me with an interesting perspective on American customs I hadn’t thought about before, and explained to me how she is addressing the current political climate Americans find themselves.

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Aziegbemi “Okis” Okisamen – From Nigeria to the United States

Aziegbemi “Okis” Okisamen is currently a graduate student studying applied mathematics at IUP. Coming from the South of Nigeria, he shared with me some interesting aspects of American educational culture that I had not thought about before, as well as his perspective regarding the work ethic at Pennsylvania’s company, Sheetz. 

Meeting with Okis while socially distanced in Indiana, PA
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From Egypt to the United States – Raneen Nassar

While working in Cape Cod during the summer of 2019, I met the beautiful and vivacious Raneen Nassar. When I asked her to partake in my Oral History Project this Spring, I had no idea that she was about to share with me an intense migration story and divulge her personal journey to grappling with her Arab heritage. Not only did Raneen live through the Arab Spring, manage complex family dynamics, and navigate the American foster care system, but she has also shown an unwavering determination to establish what her own identity is in the United States as a young Egyptian-American woman.

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From Morocco to Spain – Nara

The coast of Spain sits in the horizon, visible from a beach in Tangier, Morocco

This March of 2020, a majority of Americans are practicing social distancing by staying in our homes with Wifi and stocked pantries. Yet, we continuously complain as if social distancing is not actually a privilege. In times like these we should instead be grateful that we have a roof over our heads and a family to support us.

Back in June of 2019, I came into contact with Nara, an 18 year old Moroccan girl who currently resides in Sevilla, Spain. However, she had called Spain her home for little more than a year when I met her, and during our conversation she proceeded to tell me an amazing story about her choice to migrate to Europe.

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From India to The Gambia – Muhammad Rafiq

The smallest country in Africa and almost entirely surrounded by Senegal, The Gambia hosts many rich cultures and diverse ecosystems. While visiting this past January for a class, I found the time to speak with several individuals about their lives in The Gambia, particularly focusing on what made migrants choose to call “The Smiling Coast” their new home.

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