A better life across the pond

Student achieves childhood dreams after leaving war-torn nation

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by Humphrey Musila

Staff Reporter

hmusila@jccc.edu

Student Esther Munganga grew up in a village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Her story is defined by challenges and opportunities in equal measure. The DRC faced a civil war from 1997-2003, with years of unrest following. The result is the death of millions of civilians.

Munganga got the opportunity to study in the United States after her family was granted a green card that gave them immigration benefits, which includes permission to reside and take employment in the United States.

“In 2007 they were doing the lotteries, and out of 500 applicants, we were among the 10 who won the lottery,” said Munganga.

After winning the immigration lottery, the Munganga family faced the challenge of raising enough money to make the trip to the United States. Due to her family’s poor background, Munganga’s mother was forced to sell the piece of farm they had as well as accept donations from friends and family. After years of hard work to raise funds, the family finally arrived to the U.S. in 2009.

Munganga, who is the firstborn in the family of eight, attends the college and plans to achieve her childhood dream of becoming a psychologist. She believes the college is a great place to get an education.

“JCCC is a good place. I like the way they teach and how they help students, and also I like the way they are international with diverse students from several countries,” said Munganga.

Munganga’s first major challenge when she arrived in the U.S. was her minimal knowledge of the English language. However, Munganga has the ability to master a completely new language within a short period of time.

“I can speak four languages. Language is very easy for me — I don’t have to work harder. It took me about two months and I started speaking English,” said Munganga.

She observes the differences between the education system in the DRC and the United States. According to Munganga, most students in the DRC don’t go to school because they can’t afford to fund their education.

“The education system is harsher over there than it is in the United States. The teachers are nicer in the United States than [they are] over there,” said Munganga.

Munganga also recognizes the tremendous opportunities available to people of her age in the United States compared to the DRC. Young people there are faced with many challenges such as a lack of jobs or enough funds to pay for education or medical issues.

“In America they have a lot of ways to help people more than they do help people in Congo. You can easily get a job legally even without a college degree in America,” said Munganga.

Having gained knowledge through education, Munganga hopes to return to her home country after her studies in an effort to empower other young people to make a difference in their lives.

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