New step: USA. Am I a new immigrant?

Dear friends, after almost one year, here I am again. A lot of things have been going on since my last post in December 2014.

First, I finished my master’s in Madrid, found a temporary job as an English teacher and got to work at the Ministry of Health of my adopted country. Could never have imagined! It was short, but I am sure they did like my classes and had good impression of my work.

After that, I accepted my new challenge. It was back in March, while working at one of the African Film festival I have collaborated with along these last 3 years, I received a call from my alma mater university telling me that I was selected for a job-scholarship to teach Spanish at an American University! Wao! It seemed that I was going to make it after all. I had applied for the same programme one year ago, but was shortlisted and ended up the first in the waiting list. So, yeah. If you have read earlier post, you might remember that this is something I had always wanted to do, as a way to improve my English and also cause, we translators love travelling and enjoying our target language within context! I was not allowed to do it before because I did not have the Spanish citizenship, and therefore couldn’t apply for similar programs sponsored by the Spanish Government, even if did fulfill the requirements and all… But finally, life shows me as always, that if you really want something and work for it, you end up finding the way. Even us, those who were born to poor parents in poorer countries, us children of immigrants who dangerously migrated to earn a better living.

So, after the paperwork and saving some 2000 dollars + some help from my family, I took the flight for Northern USA. And here I am. For the first time, I am fully aware that life is giving me good rewards for the efforts my family and I have made these last decades. Apart from being able to send most of the cousins who live back in Central Africa to school, I can save some money for myself. I want to save some 10 thousand euros to open a chain of African restaurants in the biggest cities of Spain… among other dreams.

But, there is a but. I have travelled to richer countries so far, either as a student (in the UK) or as a tourist (to France, Germany or Italy), but this is the first time in which I feel like I may become an immigrant in a place. I mean, the truth is that despite the English language industry boom right now in Spain- which would guarantee me at least that I won´t end up starving, especially after the master in Education-, there is a huge unemployment rate in the country (over 25%). A social tragedy that affects mostly young people (< 50%) and underqualified people who used to work in the construction sector (as my father). That’s why I have had to keep on studying ever since I finished my first degree in 2010. I took another degree, took a working gap year from college and went back again to take a master. I can’t know if I would have found something this year in a high school there or not.

On the other, fully of this reality, and also because they believe I don’t have the same opportunities in Spain in spite of my education, my family has been throwing the idea of staying in the USA on the table. Not as an illegal migrant, of course not, hopefully there is not need for that. But, they want me to find my way and make a good living in the USA. They kinda have that idea that everything is better here, or at least much better than in Spain. The truth is that I don´t know what will be my next step. One thing has stricken me here. At the University in which I work, there are many professors and professionals from all over the world. Something really difficult to find in Spanish universities, where there is a sickening spread of endogamy and clear corruption in job appointments. And also, I had no problems coming to teach Spanish here, although it wasn´t my mother tongue (but really works as such) and I do not hold a Spanish passport. Even border’s agents were very kind and welcoming to me. It’s not like that in the most of Spanish airport regarding Africans. Was it because I come from an European country? Or because I come as a graduate professional to work? Does this make me any different from other migrants who did not have the opportunity to study two degrees? I guess it’s a different story. I´ve heard similar harsh on Mexicans and other Latin American citizens. Such is the world right now.

But yeah, I will stop beating around the bush and say that I am so happy and conscious of my life path right now. I am fully open to what life has ready for me to go for it.

And, finally, I must confess, that for the first time I am having a second thought about going back to my home country and try to improve things getting myself into politics. I know it’s dangerous and a temptation to corruption, but really, this world wandering opens my eyes. For the first time since a long time, I feel like a proper immigrant. I mean, this time I came by my one feet, there is always some African nostalgia in me. I don´t know why. I am a rebel heart. During recent years there has been like a spark of revolution within the African youth, championed by the Senegalese movement “Y’En a Marre”, which spread to Burkina Faso and other francophone countries. I have been following the moves and achievements and I feel like there is a historic moment about to happen and I want to be part of it. Dictatorships and kleptocracy are, I think, the biggest one to blame regarding current state of misery in our countries. Politician who apply heartlessly the neoliberal measures of the IMF and the WB, who favor free trade capitalism widely when other countries subsidize their companies and farmers, they build enormous burocracy and complex systems to hide their blatant corruption and unlawful enrichment… meanwhile, their people are emigrating, dying in the sea and wandering around the world. Most of the time, in very different conditions that I do. And I feel profound sorrow for my people. Sorrow that low and middle class have to rent and sell their goods to send their children abroad, as a prospective breastfeeder for the whole family. Such was the case of my family. Both my father and mother came from poor families, who once had a profession and could save enough money to migrate, did not have a second thought. I wasn`t even aware of what was going on. Today and thank them and I cry at the same time for this faith many people are forced to admit. So, yes. There is a little something burning within my heart. But I want to be well prepared and have something to contribute with. I am so happy that the candle was lighten within the continent first, that it didn´t come from outside. Let’s work for a better future. My next specific goal is to have the next university graduate among my family. On the road!

Good luck and strength, dear friends. May your wishes be accomplished.

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4 thoughts on “New step: USA. Am I a new immigrant?

  1. Welcome to America… Make the best of this experience.. You can and will do great things if you desire to do so. It will not be easy because everything here is based on your skin color. But never let the stop you…NEVER… Good luck and stay humble… 🙂

  2. Thank you, Moreno. I will try to. I have no complex for being black, and therefore have never seen it as a problem or an impidement factor for anything. If I want something I normally work for it and get it. I’ve been the first black in many things in my pathway, that I do not consider it a factor that would lag me behind, even if I am not naive enough to pretend it doesn’t matter to others. I just set my goals and go for them. If people care about skin coulour that much, its their problem, not mine. You just need to take everything into account and overcome the obstacle.
    It’s funny because I have the impression that skin colour can help you and drag you back at the same time, but I don’t think we should see ourselves as victims for this, as everyone else in earth has a weak point, even if it’s harder to find.

  3. Hi, I enjoyed reading your posts, which I came across while investigating whether I would like to move to Spain to study. I would like to ask you which cities in Spain are best to study in if I would like to study somewhere with diverse people from many countries, and where we will be treated well as foreigners. I would like to study to become a teacher, but in the U.S. (where I used to live) it is very expensive to study, and in Mexico (where I live now) the universities are not so good and the education system seems to focus on making robots and yelling at kids instead of helping them to explore their creativity. How did you find studying education was in Spain? Was there a respect for the idea of diversity? And a respect for children?
    Also if you have any recommendations of which universities or programs in Spain are good–my goal in the end is to be a teacher either of biology or elementary school for immigrant and refugee students, since this is something close to my family’s story and close to my heart. Thank you so much!

  4. Dear Franziska,

    Thanks for your comment and kind words. Yes, education in the US is very expensive, only now that I live here I fully understand what this means. As for your questions, let answer step by step. Because you speak English, you have a huge advantage on your side, cause Spain is in need for English teachers, especially for Primary Education. The regions with more diverse populations are the bigs cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Bilbao, Zaragoza, Sevilla, Granada and Córdoba (these last three within the region of Andalucía). But to be honest, people from everywhere, especially from Latin America and Northen Africa (Magreb) are found in every single city and town of the country, as immigrants account for 15 % of the Spanish population nowadays. As for the quality of Education and where to study, best universities are in the cities I mentioned before, plus the universities of Alicante (in the Valencian region), the Universities of Leon, Navarra, Asturias and Cantabria. These two last one, on the northen coast. The northen part of the country provides better quality of life and educational quality in general, in short. As for the cheapest, Madrid, Barcelona and Andalusian universities are amongst to top most expensive of the country. The northen coast, from Galicia, the cheapest region to study and one of the most beautiful, to the Basque Country (cost of life is expensive in San Sebastian and Bilbao, though. Vitoria is the cheapeast and most balanced choice). Tution fees for UE-citizens and residents is on the median of 1 000 euros/academic year. Education is amongst the cheapest. However, due to conservative new policies, if you are an international student your tuition fee is non subsidized by the govermennt at all and you can pay up to 9 000 euros for a year, which I find ridiculous for the Spanish educational quality, specially in Humanities and Arts. You can use that to study in France or other European country with higher standards. Fortunately, as far as I know, this rise is up to each regional educational council, so in regions like Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Pais Vasco, you would receive equal treatment as far as money issues is concerned. I hope this has not changed. Here is a useful page that may help you. http://www.studyinspain.info/en/reportajes/informacionPractica/Acceso-a-Grados-universitarios-para-estudiantes-no-comunitarios . And as for values and teaching practices, it’s a good place to teach. Human values and children dignity is protected and promoted within the whole society. Most teachers abide this values. I was raised and educated there since I was in primary school and never had any trouble with any particular teacher until I reached university. It’s forbidden to beat students and maltreat them, obviously. Also, beware that the regions of Galicia, Basque Country, Catalonia, Navarre and the Valencian Community are bilingual, and all teacher are required to be bilingual certified to be able to teach at public schools, and will have advantage for private schools. The good news is that Galician, Catalan and Valencian are easy to learn and after your 4- year bachelors, you should be able to speak it unless you restrained yourself not to learn enough. Good luck and welcome to Spain. Let me know about your final decision 🙂

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