Between Two Worlds-Wendbenedo

I will be using this.

“Malgré la hauteur de la montagne tu la graviras. Je te connais tu es mon fils. Je suis la première personne qui t’ai prise après ta naissance et je sais que tu peux le faire.”

As an immigrant from Burkina Faso who arrived in the US in 2019, my life has been greatly influenced by the experience of living between two worlds. I have had to navigate my Burkinabe identity and my new American identity, while also dealing with the cultural differences between my old and new homes. For example, in Burkina Faso, my family had a large brick home with seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, and other amenities, but in the Bronx, where I now live with my aunt and cousins, our home only has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. My family also has a farm of 3 ectars located 15 km from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, where we used to go there on weekends to have a good time with the family, but here more often we go to public spaces or restaurants when and only if it is not cold.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is the language barrier. While I spoke French and Mooré in Burkina Faso, I had to learn English when I arrived in the US. This has been difficult and has affected my daily life.  One of the most significant challenges I have faced is the language barrier. In Burkina Faso, I spoke French and my native language, Mooré. But in the US, I had to learn English, which has been a struggle. I once entered the wrong train on my way home from school and ended up on the 5 instead of the 4 train, which was supposed to return me to 167 Street and bring me to Jackson Avenue. When I realized my mistake, I got off the train and began to look for assistance when I saw a man in uniform. I said, “Hi Mister,” and he responded, “Hi how can I help you?” I then added, “Wanna go home, can you look at?” and I gave show him my address so he could show me the way back. Despite these challenges, my cousins and my aunt have been supportive and have encouraged me to keep working on my English. 

My cousins always corrected me when I’m wrong and my aunt always cite this quote from an English writer and art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900), “La connaissance c’est le pouvoir. Plus tu sais, plus tu es, plus tu as.” She also tells me, “Malgré la hauteur de la montagne tu la graviras. Je te connais tu es mon fils. Je suis la première personne qui t’ai prise après ta naissance et je sais que tu peux le faire.”

One experience that stands out to me was when I first started school in the US. I was placed in an ESL class with other international students who also spoke English as a Second Language. I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I wasn’t able to communicate as well as the other students, but I worked hard and eventually improved my English skills.

Despite the challenges, I have learned to adapt and thrive in my new environment. I have made friends and found a sense of community in the Bronx, and have learned to appreciate the unique aspects of both my Burkinabe and American identities. My experience of living between two worlds has presented challenges, but it has also provided me with opportunities for growth and self-discovery. I hope to continue to learn and grow as I navigate these two worlds, and to use my experiences to help others in similar situations.

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