Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sierra Leoneans in America

It never ceases to amaze me how successful Sierra Leoneans have been in the United States. The great Sierra Leone diaspora began when the country circled the drain with a tragic and horrid war.  This horror that lasted nearly ten years resulted in tremendous dislocation of people trying to run away from a war driven by megalomania, child soldiers, greed, blood diamonds, rape as political policy, and horrible maimings. Those who were able to leave took refuge in other countries such as Guinea, Liberia, or as far away as Nigeria and Ghana. Some went to the UK and many came to the U.S.  I do not know the exact figures but there are now large Sierra Leone expatriot populations throughout the country. That is not to say that there weren't earlier migrations of Sierra Leoneans to the U.S.  But the major thrust of in-migration was the direct result of the war.  Many families have gone on to become U.S citizens with 2nd generation kids being U.S. connected just like any other kids.  Many have gone on to successful careers after college or graduate school some serving as professionals in a broad range of fields including medicine, business, engineering, teaching, and research in science.  Their purpose was to take advantage of what they found here and they did this with gusto. They have added to the rich influx of talent that has come to the U.S shores.  Their story is a successful one for the most part.  They come from small West African villages - they come well educated and seeking opportunity - and they have made the fit with speed and with grace.  Yet they have not forgotten their roots.  Those born in the states may be American kids but their parents still make contacts with home, still provide support to their home as they can, and have not forgotten their origins. Sierra Leoneans are flexible, and have made the successful adjustment to U.S. life - giving the U.S. their very best. 

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