Coming to America is NOT a movie


When I first started writing this essay, I had to evaluate certain portions of my life and see how they affect me in the present because I had a goal to write about something that I believe affect me in the present. So at first that I would write about music and how it comforts me, however, I decided to write briefly about my life as an African immigrant because this is something that is in my being, something that I will always have. When I finished my essay, I was really proud about my ability to emulate heavy emotions by only using words. Looking ahead into the future I hope that I am able to be more descriptive and egaging in my essays.


Coming to America isn’t a movie, it’s a dream. For as long as I could remember all I ever wanted to do was to come to America, meet my parents, go to school, and become rich. Most of these dreams became a reality at the age of six. I was born in Lome, Togo, so when I was three months old, my parents, hoping for a better life, moved to America, leaving my sister and me to be raised by my grandmother until they settled down. My sister, five years my superior, vowed to protect me as my parents boarded a plane to the U.S.

So while I was growing up in Togo, I was always told stories about how one day I would come to America and finally meet my parents and become rich, due to my opportunity. After six years of living with my grandmother and cousins, one night my mother finally came to bring us to the U.S. I was sleeping alongside my sister and cousin when we woke in a panic to the frightening sounds of screaming and jumping. Benighted of the situation, I quickly concluded that the noises were coming from a witch, when in reality, it was my eager mother, ready to greet her children. Everything from that point on moved so fast and before I knew it, I was in America.

The days leading up to my first day of school in the U.S were exciting and filled with restlessness. I would go to my room and try to practice the English I had learned from my younger brother and Nick Jr. I would every so often open up my ‘Cars’ backpack to make sure I had everything I needed for the first day.

Soon enough it was the first day of school and there I was in a room filled with one hundred other kids, sitting on the gym floor waiting for my name to be called. I sat on the cool gym floor just like every other kid, I looked like every other kid in my uniform, I waited like every other kid, but I was unable to comprehend anything that was going on. I tried my best to recall the English that Nick Jr and my younger brother had taught me. The only thing that could come into mind was ‘Good Morning.’ I was sitting on the cool gym floor with a blank look on my face and decided that as soon as I hear “KANKOUE FOLLY,” I would jump up and will enjoy the perfect first day of school.

I sat there a little longer, the gym was getting quieter as parents and students left after exchanging final goodbyes. The gym lost its fire. It became a vacuum of distress and nervousness. A vacuum filled with fidgeting six-year-olds and irritated adults, suddenly I hear ‘Is there a Keekaw Folly in here?’ followed by ‘Keekoe, or is it Koukoon?’ I slowly got up, disappointed that pronouncing my name in an American school sounded like the mating calls of an exotic bird, I dragged my feet as I followed the name butchering woman to my classroom. Over a few years, I had learned English and tried to destroy all evidence of my cultural differences. I was now attending middle school and every so often someone would ask me about my accent, to which I would respond with a story about how I was born in Africa, in a small west African country named Togo. This would usually lead to the person, asking me some unwelcomed questions. “Have you seen a giraffe?” or “Did you live in a tribe?”

The drastic change in culture from when I moved from Africa to America was hard at first because I was unsure as to how I was going to fit in with the other students, despite looking like most of them. Deciding that the best way for me to fit in was to strip myself of my culture, I attempted to do so. I blamed the ignorance of my peers as the cause as to why I was concealing a portion of my identity, when in actuality hiding my culture allowed ignorance to persist, thus isolating me as the most ignorant person in the room. Culture and identity make people who they are, and everyone influences each other, so, your identity should be a reflection of who you are, not who the world says you have to be. In short, normality should never be favored ahead of uniqueness, the world will always have an impact on you as a person, and you will always have an impact on the world by just being you.