Leland Samuel

Lessons From My Mother

Junior Reflects On Being Born To Immigrant Parents

The daughter of an immigrant mother, junior Grace Chol has had to overcome obstacles in her path to get where she is today. Her mother migrated to the United States from South Sudan to better her children’s chances at being successful in their education and in their lives.

Photo courtesy of Grace Chol

The United States has one of the lowest numbers of out-of-school children, according to the U.S Census Bureau. School is easily accessible to the majority of American children, and is required by law. South Sudan has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, with 72 percent of primary-aged children out of school, according to the United States Agency for International Development. This is due to the constant threat of war and also due to the lack of schooling opportunities. Schools in South Sudan are few and far between.

“Getting this far in high school, I never thought I would be this far and graduating next year,” Chol said. “I always doubted myself about school. I always thought it was harder than everything.” 

      While she was close with her mother, Chol said her relationship with her father was a rocky one, and she mentioned a lack of compassion toward his children. 

“I don’t see him a lot,” Chol said. “He just says a lot of stuff but doesn’t actually mean it.”

She said her father’s choices have prompted warnings from her mother. 

“He’s an alcoholic, so my mom told me not to go down his path,” Chol said.

     Born in the United States to an immigrant mother, Chol talked about her relationship with her mother and her family back in South Sudan. 

“The biggest difference is the economy there,” Chol said. “It’s bad. And war going on, it won’t stop. And then a small problem will turn into another war, and everybody is just getting killed.” 

Chol said her grandmother works for South Sudan’s government and that worried her about her family there. She said she did not want to visit her mother’s homeland after seeing stories online. 

“My mom says it’s a good place, but with war and a lot of kids enduring starvation and stuff like that, I don’t really want to go there,” Chol said. “I do at the same time, just to see what it’s like.”

Chol said her parents were the most important thing to her in life, but mainly her mother. Chol said her father has had a large impact on her by showing her what she did not want to do. She said her mom’s enthusiasm is what she admired most about her. 

“She tells me a lot of things right or wrong,” Chol said. “I might think it’s right, but she’ll know that it’s wrong in a different way. She’ll start thinking more into the future and what can happen, so she gives me a lot of advice.” 

The school is 70.78% caucasian, and Cholis one of the 8.19% of African American students at the school. The school is incorporating more ways for students to showcase their culture with things like Diversity week, and the student unions. Chol has used her story to spread her culture. She was a part of this year’s diversity week gallery walk and talked about the culture of South Sudan. Chol has also shared and been a part of many of the Black Student Union meetings.

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