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In one sentence, describe specifically the greatest challenge you have faced in the process of adjusting to life in the United States.
My greatest challenge faced in the process of adjusting to life in the United States was when I was younger and had to sit in classrooms with my classmates who were not being taught cultural competence and was often times teased by them.
Based on your own experience, what one thing would you change about the process of resettlement in the United States?
Based on experiences with hearing some refugee stories from different countries, I would pose to somehow make some changes to the cultural orientation portion of the resettlement process such as giving a test to ensure that refugees have a good understanding of the American Culture
What single word could best describe what being in the United States means to you?
Ms. Lourena Gboeah is a refugee from Liberia who was resettled in the United States in 1992 when she was only four years old. First living in New York, then New Jersey and Pennsylvania, she currently resides in New Castle, Delaware, where she is a graduate student.
Ms. Gboeah’s family fled the war in Liberia in 1990, first going to Cote D’Ivoire for two years before being reunited with her father in New York, who had migrated a few years earlier. Before leaving Liberia, her family was continuously harassed by government soldiers, sometimes at gunpoint. She remembers how difficult it was for her mother to keep all of her eight children together.
After coming to the United States, school was difficult for Ms. Gboeah at first because she was often ridiculed and called names due to her accent. At the time, there was less awareness of cultural competency or appreciation of diversity making it hard for her to fit in. She attributes her ESL classes as one of the ways that she overcame these barriers. She became an excellent student, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in 2009. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work at Temple University with an expected graduation date of May 2014.
Knowing her family’s struggles in Liberia, Ms. Gboeah is dedicated to helping others succeed in life. She is an intern at the Hebrew International Aid Society (HIAS) in Pennsylvania, and volunteers with the Youth Empowerment Services Liberia program (YESLiberia), that promotes education for Liberian youth and assists with tuition payments for students at public schools. She also serves as a youth leader at her local church, serving as a positive role model. At the Refugee Congress, Ms. Gboeah wants to be the voice of the unheard, and in preparation for the Congress, she will visit several agencies in her area to gather information about current issues and concerns