Category Archives: English

Umbrella Category

Nadira Hurley

Environmental sustainability and fashion. Typically, these two words don’t go hand-in-hand. But, at vert & vogue, an award-winning bio boutique in downtown Durham, the two are inseparable. Founded in September of 2008 by Ryan and Nadira Hurley, vert & vogue offers organic classic and contemporary clothing for women, men and children. Combine this with quality customer service and a certain joie de vivre, and you have a winner.

Inspired by native Parisian Nadira’s impeccable sense of fashion and driven by Ryan’s expertise in business and environmental advocacy, the boutique sells bio as well as vegan clothing from a number of American and local designers, including Raleigh Denim, John Patrick Organic, and Matt & Nat. Their goal is simple: establishing a collection of “best-in-show sustainable fashion,” while providing their clientele with an “outstanding shopping experience.”

Upon entering vert & vogues, the francophone influences are immediately tangible. From the small but elegant selection of clothing and accessories to specialized service for each customer, both the owners and the boutique’s atmosphere exude French vibes.

Maurice, Rachel, et Jackson

Maurice, Rachel, et leur fils Jackson sont arrivés à Durham en novembre 2014. Ils viennent de Rwanda et rejoignent deux autres enfants de la famille qui habitent ici depuis cinq mois : leur fils Lenny et leur fille Alice. La famille est Congolaise à l’origine.

Entre eux, la famille parle le kinyarwanda, alors Lenny a traduit l’entretien. En ce moment, Maurice et Rachel assistent aux cours d’anglais, et Jackson étudie à un lycée à Durham.


(Le drapeau rwandais)


(Une carte de Rwanda. RDC, le pays d’origine de la famille, est aussi présenté.)


(L’alphabet en Kinyarwanda.)

Qu’est-ce que vous vous souvenez de votre arrivée à Durham ?

R: Nous étions très fatigués. Lorsque nous sommes arrivés en Amérique, nous avions donné toutes les choses aux autres. Nous ne croyons pas que nous pouvions apporter tout ce que nous avions chez nous ici en Amérique.

Est-ce que Durham est ce que vous avez imaginé quand vous étiez chez vous?

M : Ce que j’ai imaginé de Durham avant d’arriver en Amérique, c’est la sécurité et le développement des villes américaines. C’est ce que je voulais voir depuis longtemps, et je l’ai vu ici. C’est vraiment un bon pays.


(La ville de Durham.)

Quelle est votre chose préférée de votre vie ici à Durham ? Et chez vous ?

R : Les gens que j’ai rencontrés ici. Dans l’autre pays, je ne pouvais pas quitter la maison sans fermer la porte à clé. Mais ici, quand j’ai fait ça, quitter la maison avec la porte ouverte, je suis retournée et toutes les choses étaient encore là ! Il n’y a pas de vol ici à Durham.

Quels sont vos buts et aspirations pour l’avenir ?

M : Je pense que, à l’avenir, je vais trouver d’emploi. Je veux faire ça et je veux bien m’installer ici à Durham, comme les autres.

R : Je veux bien étudier et apprendre l’anglais ! Après que je peux clairement m’exprimer, il devrait plus facile de trouver d’emploi. Je veux m’occuper des enfants.

J : Je veux étudier la médecine ! Puis, à l’avenir, je peux devenir médecin. Je veux bien travailler comme médecin de cœur. (Jackson lisait son livre de chimie pendant l’entretien.)


(Le rêve de Jackson.)

Snapshot 1 (12-3-2014 11-07 AM)

Maurice, Rachel and Jackson

Maurice, Rachel, and their son Jackson have been in Durham for around a month. They came from Rwanda to join their son and daughter, Lenny and Alice, who have been in Durham for several months. Their family is from the Democratic Republic of Congo by origin. They speak Kinyarwanda, with Lenny acting as an interpreter. Maurice and Rachel are currently attending ESL classes, and Jackson is enrolled at a local high school.


(The flag of Rwanda.)


(A map of Rwanda. DRC, the family’s country of origin, is also shown.)


(The Kinyarwanda alphabet.)

What do you remember about your arrival in Durham?

R: We were very tired. Before coming to Durham, we had given everything to other people. We didn’t think that we could bring everything we had back home with us here.

Was Durham what you imagined it to be?

M: What I imagined about Durham before coming to the US was the security and development of American cities. It’s what I have always wanted to see, and I have had the chance to see it here. It really is a good country.


(The city of Durham.)

What have you liked the most about your life here?

R: The people I’ve met here have been so nice. Back in the other country, we could never leave the house without locking the door. But when we did that here the other day, we came back to find everything here! People don’t steal here in Durham.

What are some of your future plans?

M: I think I would like to find a job in the future. I want to do that and to establish myself in Durham, like everyone else.

R: I would really like to learn English well. If I can express myself clearly, it will be much easier to find a job. I would like to work as a babysitter.

J: I would like to study medicine, and then become a doctor. I would really want to become a cardiologist. (Jackson has been reading his chemistry textbook throughout the interview.)


(Jackson’s dream.)

Snapshot 1 (12-3-2014 11-07 AM)


RC is a 25 year old man who fled from the Democratic Republic of Congo just 10 months ago. Upon arrival in America, he has quickly learned of the importance of working hard and staying positive in order to achieve his goals. His English skills have been helpful in his adjustment to life in America; he can effectively express himself and communicate with his peers. He is motivated to become sulf-sufficient and successful here; he has already earned his driver’s license and is navigating the roads of Durham! He is currently studying for his GED, and working a part-time job at P.F. Chang’s while still making time to play basketball and relax with his family. He dreams of becoming a doctor one day who will pray for his patients as he treats them. RC was happy to be able to speak in French as he has not found many people who speak French here. He is bright and inquisitive and was curious to learn more about America and make new friends.We look forward to keeping in touch with RC and hopefully taking him to a Duke basketball game.




JL is a 13-year-old boy from Rwanda who is one of the members of MASTERY, a weekly program held at Duke University that acts as an afterschool-mentoring program for refugee children of all ages in Durham. His mother and sister had fled to Rwanda from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and about three months ago they moved to the United States as refugees. It was a big adjustment for him, since he didn’t speak any English upon arrival here. Although he claims his English isn’t very good, he has been a really fast learner. When asked how he practices his English, JL responded “I just talk to everybody!” He also says he likes to read books, and says he even reads the dictionary sometimes to learn new words.


The Rwandan flag – country where JL was born

Although there was some culture shock upon first arrival seeing the houses and the cars, JL has quickly begun adapting US culture. He is often seen wearing a snapback and listening to Chris Brown on his iPhone, whom he says is his favorite singer. JL is a big fan of soccer and basketball and says his favorite basketball player is Michael Jordan and that his favorite soccer player is Messi. JL also likes playing soccer with his friends here in Durham, and says that the soccer here is better than in Rwanda because he has better soccer shoes here with cleats. JL met one of his best friends, Najib, by playing soccer, and many of the kids in the community enjoy playing soccer together on the weekend as it really ties the community together.


Lionel Messi – JL’s favorite soccer player


Chris Brown – JL’s favorite musician


Although JL does feel a sense of community in MASTERY because he is with people that are from his country and with other refugees who are in a similar situation than him, he says he does not yet feel a sense of community in Durham. He does like his apartment complex, Oak Creek, because he has friends there and feels safe, saying that there are “no bad boys”. He is looking forward to seeing snow for the first time in Durham, and is excited to play in the snow.


Duke MASTERY Program

JL has big dreams for the future, saying that he would like to be a doctor when he grows up so that he can help people. He says that doctors helped his mother when she was sick once, and he wants to be able to do the same for other people. We wish him the best of luck in his future here in the US and hope that he fulfills all of his dreams.


My name is Lenny. My sister and I arrived here in America on the Fourth of July.

Q: And where are you from?

A: We came from Rwanda. But, my nationality is Congolese.

                         rwandaflag               congoflag

Q: What did you think of the United States when you first arrived?

A: We had a vision of America ; we had different dreams and visions of the people that are here. When we arrived, everybody was moving in circulation and it was very different from our country.


Q: And you told me earlier that you all didn’t like the United States a lot during your first month here, why and how did that perception change ?

A: When I came to America, I was with my sister, certainly. And where we lived, the people there, I never saw people who didn’t say hello to you. Every morning, when I was in my country, I always had a vision of someone saying ‘Hello’ or ‘How are you ?’ But, when we arrived here, I was only with my sister, always side-by-side with me, and things were very different than in my country.

After, we did meet a lot of different people that we liked and who liked us, while learning how to do things differently in America, like how to prepare food and how to do other things that are different in America than in our country.

Q: What do you do now? Do you work?

A: I work currently, We found jobs.

Q: What do you want for your futures in the United States?

A: I’m going to study. My future, after five years, I want to be an engineer. I’m going to start my studies next year at Durham Tech. I want to study the sciences. 


Q: Do you believe you’ve found a community and friends here?

A: Yes, we have met someone from our country and others, who don’t live in Durham but in Raleigh.


I like reading. The book I’m reading now is called Gandhi.






Je m’appelle Lenny. Nous sommes arrivés en Amérique le quatre juillet.

Q:  Et d’où est-ce que vous êtes venus?

A: Nous sommes venus de Rwanda. Mais, je suis congolais pour ma nationalité.

                                  rwandaflag             congoflag

Q: Que pensez-vous des Etats-Unis quand vous êtes arrivés?

A: Nous avons eu une vision de l’Amérique, nous avons rêvé des personnes différentes. Toutes personnes était en circulation qui était différent de notre pays.


Q: Et vous avez dit que vous n’avez pas aimé beaucoup les Etats-Unis pendant votre premier mois, pourquoi et comment est-ce que cette pensée a changé?

A: Avant, lorsque, je suis arrivé en Amérique, j’étais avec ma sœur sûrement…où nous habitons, les personnes…je n’ai pas vu quel qu’un qui n’a pas me dit bonjour. Tous les matins, lorsque j’étais de mon pays, je revais quelqu’un de dire ‘bonjour’ ou ‘comment ça va’. Mais lorsque nous sommes arrivés ici, j’étais avec ma sœur seulement, je vais..à côté de côte c’est ma sœur seulement..parce qu’il est très très différent de mon pays.

Après nous avons rencontrés des personnes différentes qui nous ont aimé, enseignant comment les choses sont différentes en Amérique. Par exemple, comment préparer la nourriture et comment faire les choses qui sont différent en Amérique de notre pays. 

Q: Et qu’est-ce que vous faites maintenant? Vous travaillez?

A: Oui, je travaille, nous avons trouvé des emplois.

Q: Qu’est-ce que vous voulez pour vos avenirs aux Étas-Unis ? Et vous étudiez à Durham Tech?

A: Je vais étudier. Mon avenir, après cinq ans, je veux être un ingénieur. Je vais commencer l’année prochaine à Durham Tech. Je veux étudier les sciences. 


Q: Est-ce que vous avez trouvé une communauté ici, comme des amis ou des autres?

A: Oui, oui, nous avons trouvé quelqu’un de notre pays et des autres—ils n’habitent pas ici à Durham, ils habitent à Raleigh.


“J’aime la lecture. Ici, je lis le livre qui s’appelle Gandhi.”







Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 10.02.15 PMScreen Shot 2014-12-04 at 10.32.31 PMUnknown-2


Pierre is from the Central African Republic, and he arrived in Durham in 2013. He enjoys watching sports, especially soccer, and was a a professional soccer player in his home country. Now he spends most of his time in class to improve his English skills, and he is also in the process of working to get his driver’s license.


Q: What are your first memories of Durham ?

A : Well, coming here, first I was welcomed by the people from CWS. The first thing that I saw, it was the students who came to see me. We discussed with them, America, what’s it like, they said no. America is always good. No problem between me and the students, or American people, we made contact with each other.

Q : And now, do you still think America is always good ?

A : Yes for the moment. Me, I know that it’s…it’s OK. No problem.

Q : What are the surprising things for you here ?

A : There is one thing in America, it’s very difficult for us, the Central Africans : we do not know how to speak English, we do not know how to write words in English. We are here to go train in English classes. That’s it.

Q : Do you find that the English classes help you ?

A : Yes that helps us, how to use words or letters of the alphabet, that we know. That is what I like about America, it’s for learning a lot of languages. Speaking languages, and English, once I know that, it’s OK. Unfortunately, I don’t yet. That’s it.

Q : Why do you have the desire to obtain your driver’s license ?

A : In America, here, if you have a license, you have your [credit] card, you can move, go buy something at the store and come back with it. Since it’s cold here a lot, you get in your car and you go to Food Lion, you buy some food.


Translated by: Zoë Bakker, Josie Holasek, and Sophie Alman

Bonus video: Pierre and Paul sing a song in Sango, a language of the Central African Republic. Paul described it as a “song of one’s heart in joy.”

F. and Family



“My behavior has changed. The food has changed. All of that. Life has changed.” – F.

Interview with F.

Fatimata pictures

Everyday, I go to my work as a housekeeper. I enjoy my work, and I like the United States as it is peaceful and safe, unlike my country. Everyone has also their liberty. The people here are nice, and I have friends here. The only thing I found strange was iced tea – in my country, we don’t drink tea that is cold, I find that really strange here! But after all, I’ve been here for a long time and have got used to it.

I don’t really see a strong sense of community here, and I don’t really have a group of friends. I work, come back home, shop, bring my children to Duke Gardens, but don’t really visit others in their homes. I’m always busy with my work and the children.

My first impression of the States was the cold. There isn’t snow or ice in Cameroon. But one adapts as always; if you see the children, they go to school and speak only English and have forgotten all their French. It’s necessary since everyone speaks English here. We must adapt.

The best things I like about the United States are the education system and employment opportunities.


Interview with L.


I go to Creekside School in Durham. At school, my favorite subject is science, because I like studying the moon and rocks, and doing projects about them. I also like doing art at school. With my friend, I like playing in the playground, especially playing tag and cops and robbers. In Durham, my favorite place is my house, because I like watching television and playing dolls. When I am not at school, I like playing tennis and swimming. In the United States, I like the television shows, the people, and sometimes the food. My favorite food in the United States is pizza, but I prefer Cameroonian food.

Interview with S.

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 10.42.34 AM

I go to Githens Middle School, where I am a seventh grader. At school, my favorite subjects are science and math, because I like studying the stars and space, and math is useful, and it helps with your job. When we work well, we get free time when we can play soccer, which is my favorite part of school. I haven’t decided yet what I want to do when I grow up, but maybe I can work in a bank. I know I don’t want to be a doctor, because it is hard work. A lot of my friends live in Oak Creek also, and we work together at school. In the United States, I like the people and sports. Soccer is my favorite sport, but I also play tennis, because you can play tennis even when you get old. I don’t like American football, because it is dangerous. My favorite English singer is P-Square, but in French, it’s Fournier. My favorite food at school is nachos and chili, but at home, I like anything! I like English, and studying it, but French is easier than English.


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Paul is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and he arrived in Durham in 2013. He likes to sew, and he enjoys making clothes and bags with his sewing machine. He speaks several languages fluently, including Arabic, French, and Sango, and enjoys improving his English skills by going to class and practicing speaking with others.


Q: What would you say to a new family from the DRC or the CAR who has just arrived in Durham?

A: Well. What must I say to the new family who has come after me. I want very much to welcome [them] to America, because here, things are good. There are no problems, not at all. Therefore, my family who has come after me: welcome to America. I would give [them] a lot of advice. Life here is not like life where we come from. When you come here, it changes your whole mentality. You must respect the law here. The law here is not like the law we knew before. You must respect the law here. You must continue your life. Now, I am here. I very much like America. Why do I like America? Because we have peace. Where I was before, I did not sleep normally, but I arrived in America and I sleep well, I can walk without fear, I have found a family who comes to visit me. I think that God is great. I pray a lot for my friend who will come after me. The life here is a little hard for me. Why do I say that? Because I do not work. But then how am I supposed to have money? There are [sewing] machines, but no customers. I like [to sew], that’s my profession, but I can’t do it. How can I do it? I have to ask others to come to my home to help me. I don’t like that. It doesn’t work for me.

Q: What is the biggest challenge in your life in the United States?

A: Now, besides money, no, that’s okay, that will be fine, but there is one thing: English. That has improved a lot. That I understand. Because I like to speak English. Because here if you cannot speak English, that doesn’t work. Therefore, always, day and night, I think and I pray a lot to God to learn English quickly. That’s the best. I thank very much everyone who has come to my home to help me. I don’t forget anyone. I have lots of friends; students at Duke, more at CWS, and more at World Relief.


Translated by: Zoë Bakker and Josie Holasek

Bonus video: Pierre and Paul sing a song in Sango, a language of the Central African Republic. Paul described it as a “song of one’s heart in joy.”