From Nigeria to Cleveland!

I came to Cleveland from Nigeria in August 2010 and started my higher education at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). My first two years in the U.S was very tough, because I schooled in the U.K for two years before I moved here so I didn’t expect to experience a lot of culture shock. The American culture is very different from that of the Nigerian culture or even that of the U.K.

My first experience with culture shock in the States was riding the RTA bus to school every morning. It was a reliable way to get from point A to point B but I had to do a lot of waiting. Before riding the RTA I had familiarize myself with the transportation system. Another difficult adjustment for me was the weather. I thought I had experienced the cold when I was in the U.K but when winter arrived it was like nothing I had ever experienced.

I missed home a lot and wanted to go back home every day, but with time I got the hang of how things worked around the City of Cleveland. After spending two years at Tri-C I transferred to Kent State University (KSU) the summer of 2013 and majored in Journalism. The atmosphere at KSU was a lot different from that of Tri-C. At KSU I had an opportunity to make friends and be a part of different organizations as well as showcase my skills as an aspiring journalist. I learned every aspect of journalism at KSU such as radio, television and newspaper which gave me a feel of the world of journalism.

The year 2016 was a great year to be in Cleveland because I participated in all of the city’s accomplishments. While I interned at WOIO Channel 19 I worked with reporters to cover the Cavaliers Championship win and the Republican National Convention. I graduated from KSU August 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism. After a months of graduation I started working with WKYC Channel 3 and I am also excited to be a part of the Global Cleveland family. Working with Global Cleveland gives me the opportunity to work with other international students like myself, by helping them adapt to the Greater Cleveland area.

Although I had a tough time adapting to Cleveland, the city has given me a great opportunity to further my career. As an international student in the field of journalism I was worried I would not find a job, but staying focused has lead me to where I am today and it is a blessing. My journey in United States is proof that no matter where you go or where you come from you can make it as long as you believe in yourself and you know what you are fighting for.


Community Partner: ECDI

The Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI) is the 3rd largest SBA microlender in the US. ECDI’s mission is “to create measurable and enduring social and economic change” for
communities by helping entrepreneurs and small business access the capital they need to grow. Through a variety of lending programs, ECDI provides capital to entrepreneurs who are unable to access it through traditional lenders.

At the close of the 2016 fiscal year, ECDI’s Northern Ohio office loaned $3 million, 52% of which went to women, and 44% to minority business owners. ECDI created 243 new jobs, and helped create or expand 168 businesses. Through various educational programs 247 clients received training, and 580 received 1:1 coaching.

ECDI is dedicated to provide their lending and educational services to the immigrant and refugee community. The Northern Ohio office staffs a full-time relationship manager, Rebecca Mayhew, to exclusively work with clients within the refugee/immigrant community. She provides hands on technical assistance, financial literacy training, and works closely with resettlement agencies to help them establish new careers.

For more information on our lending programs please visit www.ecdi.org or call 216.912.5655.


It’s Almost Black History Month

It’s almost February, which means it’s almost Black History Month!

Black History Month is an important observation of the revolutionary works black people have contributed to the United States’ history. Within this celebratory month, it’s important to remember that the struggle for racial justice is far from over.

Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, and refugees still face unique oppression. For many immigrants and refugees, the intersection of racism, class, and gender create obstacles to living freely. Global Cleveland’s ‘Welcoming’ mission is to create a welcoming region that is a place of opportunity and prosperity for people of all racial, ethnic, and international backgrounds.

In my role as Welcoming Coordinator I am very cognizant of the importance of including the African American community in the integration of immigrants and refugees. One of Global Cleveland’s Welcoming Initiatives is our African American Advisory Board. This group of African American community leaders meets to develop strategies that improve the quality of living for African Americans, while retaining our region’s rich heritage. We recognize that if Cleveland residents do not feel welcomed in the community it will be challenging to ensure that immigrants and refugees will feel welcomed. It is our desire to create a community that is a place of equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone. By building alliances with the African American community it is our desire to do just this.

This Black History Month we celebrate the contributions of courageous trailblazers in the black community who were immigrants:

  • Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in the United States Congress and the both the first woman and the first Black American to seek the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party was born in Brooklyn, NY to Caribbean parents.
  • Marcus Garvey, noted Pan Africanist and mass movement organizer and Founder of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was born in Jamaica, migrating to the U.S. in 1916.
  • Kwame Toure (formerly known as Stokely Carmichael) political organizer and activist leader with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and later the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

Author Tia Oso eloquently wrote, “Often we obscure our immigrant backgrounds as we fight for social justice, leading to an oversimplified idea of what it means to be Black and making it seem as if the interests of Black Americans and immigrants are not connected. This is far from true.” The struggle for racial justice and migrant rights remain at the forefront of Global Cleveland’s work and we will continue work with the community to find solutions to both issues.

We are proud to support Black History Month and we honor the contributions of African Americans, Native African-Americans, and other immigrants from the Diaspora.

Join us as we celebrate Black History Month in the month of February, at of our many events!