Kisanet Woldu, Eritrean
My dad was the first of his family to migrate to the US. He was what I would call a free spirit. He knew he couldn’t go the traditional route of marrying in his early twenties and taking care of our orange garden. He knew there were bigger dreams for him to pursue, so he began his journey in Sudan as a refugee and from there he was able to get a visa to the USA. First he ended up in California but ultimately he ended up in Worthington. The ease of finding a job at the pork plant and having a Eritrean community in Worthington prior to him coming here made his decision to move here that much easier. Plus it was a small town and he saw it as a great safe place for his future children to grow up in. So after working endless shifts of back breaking work he was eventually able to get enough money to bring my mom and me to the states in particular to Worthington MN. At the time I wasn’t aware but my mom was pregnant with twins. So basically we got a deal. I moved to Worthington when I was 4 and I have been here ever since. In total I have been here 19 years of my life.
The first image that arose in my head about a childhood story is an image from my Kindergarten year of school. In this image I have my head down in the back of the room and I remember the reason for this was my lack of not speaking the language made me isolate myself in the classroom and it wasn’t for a few years that I was able to finally come out of my shell once I became more proficient in the language. To make matters worse there were no students who spoke my native language of Tigrinya. And I knew if this wasn’t the cause those early years of school would have been a much better experience. But the need to fit in really pushed me to learn the language and for that I am thankful since I was able to become very proficient in a very short time compared to my other classmates whose native language wasn’t English. But I began learning later that language wasn’t the only bearer color and different cultures also affected my ability to fit in but luckily there were many immigrant students in my class who had similar childhoods growing up so I was able to befriend them. This allowed me the privilege to have a very diverse group of friends from a very young age. This experience allowed me in my later years of life to relate to a diverse group of individuals and befriend them.
I attended Gustavus Adolphus College in 2017 and graduated in the summer of 2019 with a Major in Environmental Studies. My experience at Gustavus was an all around very good experience since the institution introduced me to people from all around the world and it really fed my knowledge of understanding culture and people as a whole. But being a first gen student led me to not be informed about what college was. I remember growing up, I thought once you get to college you let the counselor know what job you want and it would be a smooth sailing from there but this was far from the truth. College required a level of motivation and discipline which I was ill prepared for but eventually through this struggle and stress I was able to come out a much stronger person. It is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything else. To be truthful if there was an experience that was much cheaper and didn’t leave me with so much loans I probably would have chosen that option.
What are your future goals?
My future goals are to provide people with a source of inspiration and hope that anything is possible and as long as they put forth effort, work and commitment they can achieve any goal they seek. I know a lot of the time we think of money as a sign of success. But the success I speak of is one of self love and peace of mind. If I could create a program to install this into the youth that would be a dream come true. Because throughout my daily life I see too many youth who are constantly sad, depressed and seem to have lost all motivation and self belief.
What are your desires for the community of Worthington?
I hope that the citizens of Worthington go out and interact with all the cultures that make up this city. So they can see the beauty and truth about the cultures and people around them . Instead of always listening to hear say and the news which seems to portray immigrants in a bad light.