What is your name?

My name is Alassane Fall and I was named after my Mom’s Dad

Where are you from?

Senegal, West Africa

What was it like growing up?

I grew up in a very safe, welcoming and pleasant environment. Senegal is a model of democracy in Africa and around the world. With 95% of the population Muslim and only 4% Christian, Senegal has elected for 20 straight years a Christian president. Senegal is known for “ TERANGA” meaning Hospitality in Wolof. Wolof is a lingua Franka, member of the Niger Congo language group. And Tolerance, Non-Violence and Peace (Jamm ReKK “ peace only”).

What brought you to Cleveland?

I had family in Cleveland; My wife MLF is from Cleveland so I came to join her after we got married in 2014 but I immigrated to the United States from Senegal in 2001. I obtained my degree in International Studies from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, in 2004 and went to teach at KU, Lawrence, Academie Lafayette MO and UNC, Chapel Hill. I have also been involved with the United Nations-Geneva, the Foreign Ministry of Senegal, the American Red Cross (NEO), the International Institute of Humanitarian Law-Italy, the International Services center of Cleveland and others.

What were your first thoughts about coming to America? Did those change?

I was excited to come to the US to further my studies in International Relations as a graduate student at the University of Kansas. I was really fascinated by the way that people identified themselves not as an american but as from their states and their schools. You could tell where people were from by there t-shirts ( Kansas, NC, Nebraska, OH) and their schools. CSU, Case Western Reserve University, KU, NC, etc.. I love the university alumni system. Is it what I thought it would be NO, I thought the whole country would be like “Hollywood-Red Carpet” but still, the United States of America is a great country. Something else that fascinates me is the infrastructures, roads and bridges, the artificial lakes, the parks, local and nationals. Conclusion, it’s a great country with great people with issues that need to be addressed.

What was your first impression of Cleveland?

I loved it very much because the people are very welcoming. My wife showed me Cleveland and explained the rich history and invention that has been done in Cleveland. The first time she took me to the public library, I found older documents from West Africa in French, it was memorable. Cleveland is an easy place to be in love with particularly downtown and Edgewater park. It’s a very fine city; I am glad I moved here. I remember also walking downtown wearing a NC shirt, and Cleveland police chief, Calvin Williams, stop, shook my hand and talked to me. After a short conversation, he said ”welcome to CLE, we need good people like you.” However, I use to confuse Euclid and Cleveland…Long story

What did you enjoy about Cleveland the most?

My wife, Edgewater park, the art institute -particularly “ Egypt Room”, University Circle, the cost of living, and the cultural diversity. Also, I like the fact that everyone call me coach. If you are looking for me in Cleveland, if you say ”coach” you have 80% of chance of finding me. I also love the Case Western Reserve University soccer field and the international community who plays there.

Anything you would like to say about Cleveland?

I am a Board of Trustees member- International Community Council- Worldwide -Intercultural Network (ICC-WIN) of Northeast Ohio. One thing I am sure of, is that I am one of the best ambassadors that this city has. During the RNC, I gave two media interview this week with NPR LA and with Voice of America and praised the city.

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

1. It was lonely at first, then the language barrier. Even though we have 36 languages, English is not one of them.

2. The food, I have learned to cook Senegalese food here since men don’t cook back home…

What are some cultural differences?

Community life versus individualism -I missed the tea gathering that I use to have with my friends and large family. Here it was just me and my wife but I had soccer at Case Western Reserve University and made countless friends. We have a very international and diverse group.

What is your occupation?

I am an International Consultant, a Lecturer, a Volunteer Coordinator, and a Public relations specialist, however, the title, I love the most is coach.

Why is Global Cleveland a great resource?

It connects Cleveland with the rest of the world; it globalizes Cleveland.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees and how can we make Cleveland a more welcoming place?

Immigrants and refugees enrich Cleveland in every single aspect. Interacting with an immigrant makes you a better person and makes him/her a better person as well. Having more cultural events, shows, summits, forums, local TV’s covering cultural events, guest speakers in educational institutions ( elementary school, HS, Universities….) and make sure that immigrants have access to find jobs.