Caught between cultures

Khadija Ofori is studying physical therapy at Anoka-Ramsey so she can eventually open her own business in Ghana. PHOTO BY THOMAS PEROWITZKhadija Ofori is studying physical therapy at Anoka-Ramsey so she can eventually open her own business in Ghana. PHOTO BY THOMAS PEROWITZ

Thomas Perowitz
Campus Eye Contributing Writer

Anoka-Ramsey student Khadija Ofori, 39, has experienced many cultural changes in her big move to Minnesota from Kumasi, Ghana.

Ofori put her name in a lottery drawing and was chosen to be able to move to the United States where she planned on building up an education, a family, and getting prepared to create her own business for when she moves back to West Africa.

So far she has been a citizen for roughly nine years, living in the Coon Rapids area. Just by looking at her colorful and traditional clothing, it’s easy to see that she has a very interesting and diverse cultural background compared to most Minnesotan residents.

She was able to move here after being drawn from a lottery, which is a system that allows you to move out to places like The United States.

“The main reason is that [Ghana] financial wise, is difficult than here, you know here even if you’re working in the grocery store you’re making at least $8 an hour, that place is like 15 cents, or like 20 cents an hour. A professor might get … let me see… $500 a month, unlike here the professor here would get much more money,” Ofori said.

She wanted to move here so she could build herself up financially and be able to support herself, her 6-year-old daughter and her husband. She plans her daily routine according to family, making sure she is able to be home when her daughter is home, and not gone all of the time. That way she can build the family relationship that she values from back home.

Khadija Ofori is studying physical therapy at Anoka-Ramsey so she can eventually open her own business in Ghana. PHOTO BY THOMAS PEROWITZ

Khadija Ofori is studying physical therapy at Anoka-Ramsey so she can eventually open her own business in Ghana. PHOTO BY THOMAS PEROWITZ

That is also one of the main cultural differences she has noticed, how people and families act with one another.

“I’m working at this job to get money, but back home the family will take care of that person, and you will never feel lonely in your house. You can always go visit somebody, and somebody could always visit you, and we don’t live, like, you know here how you have an apartment, and you’ll have an apartment for a year or two and you’ll not even know your neighbors. But that place is not like that, the whole house is open, so if you’re in a house, you see each other all the time.”

Ofori said her husband has been one of her biggest inspirations, because he keeps pushing her and motivating her to continue with her education. He knows that’s what she wants to do to be able to start her own business when she moves back home.

Going to school for physical therapy, Khadija plans to open a physical therapy business back in West Africa. “I do not want to stay in the United States for the rest of my life, I want to move back home,” she said.

Although she likes it here, she finds the weather to be too unstable, and some of the cultural norms here a bit difficult, like the limited social interactions and nutrition.

Ofori said back home, eating healthy is much easier. Most of the food that she is used to having in West Africa is organic, but in the United States you end up paying extra for organic foods. It’s much easier to get caught into eating unhealthy here because of how much cheaper and accessible unhealthy food is.

She is using this experience in the United States to be able to better her education, and get a financial jump for when she moves back home to West Africa. She still wants her daughter to experience life here too, though, so she is holding off that date. This way her daughter can grow up around American culture, something that a lot of West Africans are unable to experience.

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The Campus Eye Staff
The Campus Eye is published by students of the Cambridge and Coon Rapids campuses of Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Campus Eye articles in print and online represent the opinions of the writers and not the college or the student body.