My Journey to America

Alex, Wilde Lake HS, Class of 2020

Moving from Cameroon to America presented Alex with a frightening array of challenges as well as an abundance of tremendous friendships.

I remember the day we packed everything and headed to the airport. I didn’t know until a month beforehand that my parents signed us up for what my dad calls the “green card lottery”. I was a very talkative kid so I made sure I told everyone and said my goodbyes. My best friend Kombou, was first to know. The week before our big trip, we were inseparable. Our walks home from became longer. The time we spent together was more frequent than ever. We tried to spend every minute together because we knew our last few seconds with each other were coming fast. We both knew we wouldn’t be able to talk, she had no computer or phone and neither did I. We didn’t want to admit it but we also knew we would never see each other again. I knew I would never see her beautiful, tan skin, or soft, brown eyes again.

I tried to stay happy and focus on the positive.

I would have my first plane ride ever. I was most excited about taking my first step in a big airport and on a plane. Thinking about that soon to be experience made me feel a lot better about leaving. I was excited until the day finally came. We all sat together in the airport for what felt like hours of sitting and crying. The worst part was watching my older sister cry as she hugged her sister goodbye. She has a different dad but I never saw her as anything but my sister. My sister was crying, my brother was crying, my mom looked sad, and I was just sitting there looking at a wall. I started to think about all the things I might not ever get to do again. My grandmother told me and my older sister to be safe and be careful because everything was going to be different in America. “Don’t talk to strangers or follow anyone you don’t know” she said. I realized I wouldn’t be able to take long walks by myself anymore. I realized I would lose the small amount of independence I had as a seven year old. I sat there quietly staring at the wall that just quietly stared back.

I started to think more and more and I found myself thinking about my grandmother. It finally hit me. I would no longer be able to see my grandmother when I got home from school. Someone that I knew would always be there when I got home would no longer be there. The woman who took care of me everyday, and gave me all the comfort I ever needed. The only person whose hug felt better than anything in the whole world. I would no longer see this woman everyday. The tears started to slowly fall down my face like paint on a dry wall. More and more tears came and I didn’t want to show my face anymore. I laid my head on my sister’s lap, silently sobbing while she rubbed my back. I kept crying until I fell asleep. My dad woke my sister and I up and picked up our things and headed to the plane entrance. My younger sister and brother were amazed by all the cool plane things they saw, like the T.V.’s and the pillows. My sister, my mom, and I were still feeling sad about all the things we were leaving behind. I sat down and settled myself in with my blanket and pillow. I started to feel better and wanted to watch a movie, except I had no idea how to work the T.V. Being the independent person I was, I fiddled and tried to work it myself, but couldn’t do it. I then asked my sister, who didn’t know either. Then I asked the couple sitting in front of me. I stood up and asked them but all I got were two blank faces staring at me. They looked at each other and back at me, then I just slowly sat down. I told my dad to get an attendant to help. I pointed to the T.V. and finally someone turned it on and showed me how to use it. I was now able to relax and fall asleep.

The flight was long. We flew from Douala, Cameroon to Paris, France and finally arrived to Dulles airport in Virginia.

By now I was already used to my voyage and I started to feel better and more excited, except when we got into the actual airport. I was bored out of my mind there. Watching paint dry would have been better than waiting for our bags. It felt like we were standing around for hours and hours… and even more hours. When we got our bags we waited outside for what felt like even more hours. Then I finally met my brand new uncle Michael, and his family. Their house was my first, and they made my big move a lot easier. 2 months later I enrolled at Elkridge elementary school. Firstly I took a big placement test to see which grade I should be put in. My mom told me I tested very well but the language barrier and age might cause me to have a hard time. I was held back a year and ended up being a year younger and two years younger than some of my classmates. Those two years were incredibly hard for me. I was trying to learn English, adjust to America, and attempting to make friends. I didn’t fit in and I hated all my time there. Then I moved to Columbia and things started looking up. Although middle school was hard I made the best friends I could have ever imagined and I’m lucky to be keeping in touch with them today. I’m surprised of all the good things that came out of my trip because now I can never imagine going back. I might visit in the future, but I’m glad I found my new home.

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