Toto, I Don’t Think We’re in Kenya Anymore

By Jackie Maczkiewicz

People have been immigrating from their home countries to America for many years.  It all seems to fall under the category of wanting a “better life” and finding it in America.  Although some people don’t look at America as the greatest place in the world, they don’t realize how extremely good we have it here compared to other countries.  Kauthar Hassan is a 19 year old girl who came here from Kenya.  I was able to sit down with her and interview her journey as she moved here in 2000.

Me: What was it like making such a big move like that?

Kauthar : It was exciting to travel from there to here as we didn’t travel much before.  Suddenly we were on a very big trip.

Me: Why did you and your family come to the United States?

Kauthar: We came to the United States because my parents wanted better things for all of our family, so they brought us to this country.

Me: How is the United States, New York in particular different from Kenya?

Kauthar: When we came here, we were amazed at how different everything was.  I mean there were big cities in Kenya, but there was nothing to compare with the atmosphere of the New York area.  In Kenya, we had a huge variety of animals and wildlife.  The plains of Kenya were really close to the city.  We used to go on safaris and watch sunsets, they were always so beautiful but here it seems to be really hard to find wide open spaces.

Me:  What is one thing you miss most about Kenya?

Kauthar:  Wow, to be honest, its kind of weird but I miss when it was really early in the morning.  I would wake up and the smell of pancakes and mandozi would fill my nose.  If I had to pick something else it would probably be the sunsets I was just talking about also.

Me: Im sorry, Mandozi?

Kauthar : (Laughs)  It’s a Kenyan pastry we used to eat all the time.  They were so good.

Me: So missing all those parts of your life, do you like it here?

Kauthar: I do.  Everyone is pretty friendly for the most part and when I first came in 2000 a lot of people were interested in where I had come from and wanted to know all about me.  That was pretty cool because I was pretty excited to be here.  Also, theres a lot of things that I can do here that I couldn’t do at home.  Theres different foods that Ive grown to love and I didn’t realize that there are so many different cultures in America.

Me: What is the difference between you and an American child?

Kauthar: (Laughs) When I first came here I noticed that a lot of kids take things for granted.  Back home, we didn’t have microwaves, or dishwashers.  We washed our dishes by hands.  I guess when I first came here I was different by knowing how to do things without the technology of this world.  Although I completely loved it !

Me: Final question, do you think it was the right decision for your family to come to the United States?

Kauthar:  Although I miss Kenya a lot sometimes, I definitely think we are in the right place for our family to be in.   We have gotten so many opportunities that just would not have been possible in Kenya.  I don’t regret it, just miss certain aspects of it.

After talking with her, I realized myself that there may be certain things I take for granted myself.  My father is a german immigrant and moved here with his parents when he was only 2 years old.  After learning of Kauthars story, it made me want to talk to my father about his family story.  Even if he was only a toddler when it happened.  It was amazing to see what different people have gone through to get to where they are today and how different countries can change a persons life.  If you have any free time readers, ask your grandparents or parents where your family has come from and what they went through so that you could live the lifestyle you do today.  I think you would find it interesting and shocking by the stories you may find out.

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