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Moving to the United States
Chibuzo Arochendo moved to the United States last August to earn higher degrees in education and to earn his citizenship in a legal way. I was informed about Chibuzo (Chi) by my father who works with him at Marywood University, and told me the short version of Chi’s life. My dad told me that Chi moved away from all of his family in Nigeria moving to the United States in August. This then captured my curiosity and I had the privilege to interview him and go more in depth about who he is.
I met Chi for the interview at Marywood University on March 18 of 2019 at around 4:00 p.m. When first meeting Chi he was very polite and by the end of the interview, he was the most kind-hearted and respectful person that I have ever met. I was nervous at first to meet him but he was very open as we began talking about his life.
The first thing I asked him was how to spell his full name. I felt embarrassed asking him but he laughed explaining that I should not be embarrassed considering the fact that when he asked me what my name was he pronounced wrong several times. After he spelled his name for me I began to ask him about where is was from. He told me he was from the Southern part of Nigeria, where he was very close with his family. He is one of six children (three boys and three girls), with himself being the second oldest child. Chi continued to talk about how his best memories in Nigeria was when he was younger and him and his siblings got along extremely well.
I then started to ask him when and why he decided to move to the U.S. Chi explained his story about how he decided to move to the United States last August when he was thirty-two years old for educational opportunities. Between the years of 2008-2014 was when Chi had plans to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. He said in Nigeria that type of engineering is the main kind of engineering they use. However, their economy crashed during those years which left Chi struggling to find a job in that industry, and when the economy crashed it led to hundreds of workers being laid off in a numerous amount of companies. This made it impossible for Chi to find a job. Chi then explained to me that he found a big interest in Information Technology (IT). By having this interest it led him to find training and earn another degree, but it could only be found in the United States.
While talking to Chi I was aware that he was very religious. He said religion is a big part of culture, depending on which part of Nigeria people live in. Chi lived in the South where people are very open minded and mainly Christian, while the North is more traditional and close minded with the majority of people being Muslim. He decided when applying to colleges in the U.S, he wanted to go to a school that was a catholic school. This led him to research Marywood University. He said that it’s very different from schools “back home”. He said in comparison Marywood is “one thousand times smaller than any school back home”. He continued that even though the university is smaller than what he is used to, this school helped him with his spiritual life. He said another difference is that the United States is more advanced based on education compared to Nigeria. He said that in Nigeria a degree takes five to six years to earn, while in the United States, on average, takes four to five years to earn a degree. “The Nigeria education system is not bad at all, however we are still developing and have a long way to go.”
While studying at Marywood he also found job opportunities working in their cafeteria. He decided to find work at school because he said that sometimes he gets lonely knowing that he has no family in the U.S, so having a job allows him to force himself to interact with people, make money and maintain a balanced state of mind.
After hearing him say that he had no family at all the the United States, I was amazed that he was able to take the chance and try to make a better life for himself. I asked him if he would talk about what it is like living away from his family. As Chi talked about this topic, I was able to tell that he was starting to become emotional. Chi said his family supported him when he told them about his “big plan”. He said his family knew how bad he wanted this, so they did whatever it took to get him to the states. They splurged with the little money they had to help with get a plane ticket, and to help with the necessities he will need. He said that he tried not to take all of the money they offered to give him because he said “if you don’t work hard, no one will help you in life”. Chi is still able to reach out to his family once in a while over the internet but he said it is very hard at times to stay in touch. Chi explained to me that it is hard and scary to be away from home, but it takes “boldness and courage” to take that step and follow through moving to a foreign country. When Chi first came to America, he told me he went through extreme depression to the point where he would wake up crying thinking that he is “in jail” with no connections with anyone. It was not until he found a church that took him in like he was “family” and would try to reach out to Chi, but he continued to say that he would be too depressed to let people give him advice.
I then asked him what the hardest and easiest part of moving from Nigeria to the United States was. Chi said that there was no particular easy part about moving away, however he felt the butterflies in his stomach and he had the feeling of excitement as the time got closer for the big “moving day”, however there were many hard parts about moving. The hardest thing for Chi was accepting the reality of being lonely and losing his family across the world, and transitioning into a new world for him. Even though many situations were hard for Chi to get used to living in the U.S, he said that there was one thing he was surprised with. He explained that he could not believe how welcoming Americans truly were. He said that even though he felt lonely, people are always so kind and nice to him and making sure he is welcomed in society.
The last topic that I had in mind to talk to Chi about were what his ultimate goals are living in America. Chi said that he wants nothing more than to earn his degree in IT at Marywood University. He said knowing that he is able to achieve this goal will reassure him that all of his hard work will be paid off and it will help him with his “self-development”. He said he also wishes in the future to continue to learn about working ethic and possibly work for a business or big company.
After learning about who Chi was and what his story was, I wanted to know little things about Nigeria that are different from the United States. Chi said that some holidays the U.S celebrates, he has never heard of, one being Thanksgiving. When Thanksgiving break came along and Marywood was off, he was confused by what were we're celebrating and why we celebrate it as well. Another little fact he told me about was the type of currency they used. In Nigeria they use Neira instead of dollars. Chi explained to me that one U.S dollar is equal to approximately three-hundred sixty Nieras. He also told me that over the last couple of years, due to their economy and not having enough foreign exchanges, the government has had to raise prices in Nigeria, meaning one U.S dollar used to equal to only about one-hundred ten Nieras.
As my interview with Chi was coming to an end, I asked him if there was anything else he wanted me to include in the interview. Chi said the only thing he wanted me to include was to let people know that transitioning and creating a new life is not easy and it comes with many challenges, but even with challenges people should never stop trying to reach their goals. He continued talking about how even though many people were welcoming in the states, he has been a victim of racial abuse, but he refused to get angry. He said “There will always be people that may not like you, but you can not let them stop you from doing what you want to accomplish”. He finally ended the interview by telling me “always love what you do”.