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Teens Writing About Immigration


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Neema's Story
By Neema Syovata, 17, Woodbury, CT

I have been in the U.S.A. for two years now. I moved from Kenya (East Africa). I always had this notion that this was such a great country, and that I would fit in and have a good time. I didn't realize how wrong I was. This is a great country, don't get me wrong. But when I started school, I was received with such negativity. I had people walk up to me and say things like, "You dumba** of an African, why don't you go back to where you came from?". I was shocked, but I was thinking, they don't know anything about me. I felt it was wrong and I decided I wouldn't let anyone step on me. I refused to be a doormat!

This is me, looking cool...or at least trying to!
I realized most of the kids at my school were ignorant, but that isn't an excuse for treating others wrong. Diversity in this world makes it very interesting. As someone once said to me, "If you were to turn us all inside out, wouldn't we look the same?" A few of my friends and I strove to begin a diversity club at our school to embrace the differences of ourselves and others. Being an immigrant has been hard, but it has taught me that no matter where in the world I am, I should learn to respect other people's differences. And to all you immigrant teens out there: you don't have to be friends with anyone who views you negatively. No one needs that, and no one should take it.

Something else I have had to deal with is racism. I believe no child is born a racist. They learn it. People seem afraid of what they don't know, or others admire who you are, or what you have, but they don't want you to know that so they lash out at you.

My cousins and me in Nairobi, Kenya.
I have also had great experiences (Like eating at McDonald's...ha!). The school system here is good, and teens here can be independent. It has also been fun getting to know people that have enjoyed my company because of who I am. I speak Swahili, and I'm learning Arabic and Spanish! It has been fun sharing my views and experiences and outlook on life with you all. Stay in school, and be safe, and remember: try to make your dreams reality. God bless. May Allah be with you all!
Me with some of my family!