Immigrant and Refugee Students Share Their Journey To America

The students were enrolled in ESL classes at Fargo South and Davies High Schools

FARGO, N.D. — People around the F–M area came together to learn more about the terrifying and emotional stories student immigrants went through on their journey to America.

“I heard loud gunshots, screaming, and people crying outside I was inside sleeping at that time, so I woke up and started to look for my mom and my three other siblings,” said Noella Akechm, a student immigrant.

That is just one of difficult stories refugee and immigrant English learner students from Fargo South and Davies shared with the community as part of their Journey to America project.

For some, telling their story provides relief.

“It’s so therapeutic for these students to share because they have a lot of emotion and a lot of things that they aren’t able to share with people.  Especially when English is a barrier, and they’re not able to express themselves,” said Leah Juelke, EL English Teacher at Fargo South High School.

One student from Congo said the English barrier made it hard to transition into American culture.

“Back then, I didn’t have any friends because I couldn’t communicate with them, so I was so lonely.  But yeah, I got used to everything,” said Diane Mutumukeye.

But years later, she has become a part of the culture and enjoys knowing that her peers can relate to some things that happened to her in her past.

“It was good hearing people’s stories and understanding them. Some of them went through things that I went through back then, too,” said Mutumukeye.

Events like these are meant to connect the students to people in the community.

“It’s great in this day and age too in our society to realize who your neighbors are, and so instead of just assuming who people are.  It’s great that we are able learn about those people first hand,”Juelke said.

Over 50 students shared their stories and along with speaking about it, their stories were published in a book.

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