Meet Zita Solange, a francophone woman who lives in Durham, North Carolina. She came to the United States from the Central African Republic in September of 2014. She moved with her three children, and she now lives in an apartment close to the center of Durham. She is expecting her fourth child soon – who will be an American citizen – and hopes to be reunited with her husband in the near future.
Can you describe your first day in Durham?
We arrived in Durham, in Raleigh. It was a Tuesday. That was the first time I stepped foot in Durham. The car brought me here. We arrived at my apartment, and [the people who met me at the airport] showed me many things around the house. We found and went to the mailbox outside the apartment. After that, we went to the main office in the apartment complex, and learned how to pay rent for my apartment, and after that we returned to the apartment. Here, [my case worker] showed me how to prepare food, and how to use the things in the bathroom, among other things. That was my first day in Durham.
Can you describe your community and your friends in Durham?
I have lots of friends in Durham. My community is made up of people from the CWS office and includes the three people who picked me and my family up from the airport when we first arrived (their names are Lauren, Samantha, and Andrew). There are also people who live in my community who came from the same country as me. For example, I knew a man named Paul who was in the same refugee camp in Chad as I was. Paul arrived in Durham before me and my family and when we arrived in Durham, he helped my family get settled into life in Durham.
I have new friends in my ESL class including my professor, Edwin, and the other students. My neighbors at Oak Creek who have arrived after and before me are also an important part of my community. Chelsea and Lauren, who are my “teachers at home”, are part of my community as well. Another woman also comes to help me with English on Wednesdays. Additionally, my children are happy going to school and have friends there. They leave in the morning to take the bus to school and return in the afternoon. They are learning a lot and that is great.
How do you see your future in Durham?
I prefer, more than anything, to go to school, to go to university. Why? English, I am going to learn the language. I need to speak English well, and then, it’s where I can use a computer like I have wanted for many years. This is what I prefer for the future – and to learn computers for work, because when you do work [with a computer], the hours are not at the office, and there is a good salary. Therefore, this is what I would like, first and soon to go to school, and to learn about computers as well.
How do you see the future for your children?
My children will have a good future because they are in school. Because of the education they will receive in the United States, it will be easier for them than it will be for me. I want to learn more and become a better English speaker. My children are already in school, and they will learn a lot of English so their future will be good. My baby will have the opportunity to be an American citizen. It sometimes takes five or more years for refugees to be able to obtain Green Cards and eventually their citizenship. But for my baby, citizenship will be automatic. Thus, my baby will have a lot of opportunities and will be happy. He/she will be able to vote and to become president if he/she wants to.
With regard to my husband, I have started the papers to help bring him to the United States. They have asked for our marriage license. I have called the country and they must send it to the office here. Rebecca [a woman who work at CWS] is in charge of immigration services. She has asked me to send his photo, so I must send a copy of his photo. Thus, he must start the application, but she has told me that the process costs a lot of money. But since I don’t have a lot of money, would it be possible, if I accept, for her to put my story on the internet where people could help me and give me a little bit of money if they can. I must give one hundred dollars to complete a test that shows that my husband is the father of my baby. It costs one hundred dollars for me and one hundred dollars for him, the father. Thus, it is a lot of money. So she asked me, if I accept, we could put my story online. I think that that is not a problem to put online; she can do that. It would be good for him [my husband] to come here. With the children, and a baby on the way, I have a lot of taxing things including working and paying rent for our apartment.
Interview recorded, transcribed, and translated by Lauren Taylor and Chelsea Decaminada on November 21, 2014.