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Coming to the USA/Pittsburgh

I came to the USA running away from an abusive relationship. When I got here, life was hard. Family was not supportive. I wish I knew then what I know now about the different organizations that help women and children that have been abused, depressed, etc. I feel like if I knew earlier, I was never going to have a mental breakdown and my life was going to be better. Things started to get better when I was connected to the right organization, SHIM. I thank God for this organization.

My first day in the USA was horrible. I was so tired and scared of the unknown. Giving up my entire life to start over in a place I had never been was a nightmare. The flights and big airport wore me out. The snow, wow I said to myself, so beautiful. It was like love at first sight seeing the snow. Then did I change my statement when I stepped outside, lol; it was so cold. Pittsburgh is cold and I never liked that fact.

I found Pittsburgh to be welcoming in that people are super friendly. I have never understood why everyone just smiles at you even when they do not know you. I guess it is an American thing. What makes it more welcoming for us immigrants are the different organizations that help us to get on our feet. Waking up every day, knowing I got a place to get free food, shelter and clothes and be able to provide for my children in a foreign place is more than welcoming; and it makes me feel at home. My future hopes are to make a difference in someone’s life through my story. There is light at the end regardless of where you come from.

Culture

When I think of my culture, I think of the highly magnified traditional dances (Gule wamkulu) and soccer/football. At home we use the words soccer and football to mean the same thing. What surprised me about Pittsburgh is that they play football with their hands. Where I come from football/soccer is only played with our feet.

With my culture I also think about the beliefs and perceptions towards women in society, the teachings about life and what to expect of it. Most importantly, I think of how women were viewed as having a social life that revolves around cultural gender norms and how strong women are fighting that. Women are traditionally viewed only as helping with household chores and lighter agricultural activities.