10th grade student at Thomas Jefferson


Where are you from? 



What was it like growing up? 

It was sometimes easy and sometimes it was hard. It was easy to find food but it wasn’t easy to study. I’m Congolese but born in Rwanda, so the Rwandese treated me different, they believe many Congolese killed Rwandese. It was hard, they didn’t want their children to play with me, people were very mean. 


What brought to Cleveland?

I was a refugee and my family was placed in Cleveland. I have been here 8 months. 


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

I was thinking things would change for me. I would be able to go to school and find new friends- and that happen. I thought it would be hard for me to speak English, but I learned to speak very well.


What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here? 

Finding new friends was hard and to adapt to the climate. Here it’s cold but at home it’s very hot. Finding food and a soccer team was also a challenge. I was use to African food- so coming here and eating American food was different. Everyone eats chicken and I don’t’ like chicken but I do like pizza.


What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

Every Friday we have someone come to us from Catholic Charities to speak English but at home we speak Swahili and French. I speak five languages. Sometimes my parents cook African foods, we love to eat fish. 


How have Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

People from school and my case manager, everyone who helps us learn what American will be like and help us adjust- make me feel welcome.


What do you love about Cleveland?

I love Cleveland because I get to go to school every day and I can learn and study. Nobody can pick on me for being Congolese and I have freedom of religion. 


What’s your favorite thing to do in Cleveland? 

Study and play soccer at Lincoln West. 


Why is it important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

Because we can help them and allow their children to have a good life and freedom.