When I arrived in the United States in 2010, I knew that everything was not going to be the same compared to my home country. On a positive note, I knew that there was a lot for me to learn about the American system and much to do to get going with life. Looking back at it, I now realize that I did not have many mentors or encouragers in my new life here. Like me, my fellow Africans also lacked the knowledge of what should be done to succeed in this country.
After six months here, things were not as I had expected (or hoped) the United States would be. I realized that my university degree was worthless, especially since no one advised me that the accounting degree I earned in Cameroon could be evaluated and certified to be equivalent to the corresponding U.S. degree.
In addition, my limited computer know-how and a thick foreign accent created a barrier for me to move forward. Being at home for more than a year without school, work and social life was draining, challenging and frustrating. It might sound surprising that at that point in time, all I thought of was going back to Cameroon to get a life for myself and to help my family. But with the help of my brother and his wife (who live here, too), I finally was able to enroll in college here in Minnesota. A family friend also referred me to a job at the company for which he worked and I was able to get a job working in a group home.
Imagine how tough things can be for someone coming into the country knowing not a single person and with no family members who can give them advice. It is not only difficult to get a job, but also it is difficult to associate with people from other cultures. Things are not as easy for immigrants coming to the U.S. as people who are born here might think. The big lesson I learned is that patience, persistence, and hard work are key to succeeding in a new environment. It does take a lot longer to be successful than I ever imagined it could.
I am fortunate today to be part of the Daily Work team, whose mission is to guide and mentor job seekers who desire to be self-supporting by helping them prepare for, find and maintain work that enable them to sustain themselves and their families. The only part I regret now is that I did not know the existence of this agency when I got into the U.S. in 2010. If I had, things would have been faster and easier for me.
However, I am thankful because I am able to assist others at Daily Work who might be going through the same difficulties that I did. Daily work does an amazing job,not just by coaching job hunters, but also by giving them resources for health care, housing, going to school, and learning English and computers. All these are basic necessities, especially for immigrants from Africa, China and other developing countries.
On December 13, I will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social work from the College of St. Scholastica. My goal is to be a child protection social worker. I will not forget the efforts put forth by the board of directors for their role in the smooth running of Daily Work. I also appreciate the financial and spiritual support the Agency receives from individuals within our community. Daily work is alive and existing thanks to your in-kind and monetary support.