Interview for

Isatou Dukureh

7/26/2019

Interviewed By:

Shanaz Deen

Date Interviewed:

Audio Recording of Interview
00:00 / 36:06
Summary

Isatou explains her experience in Gambia, in an abusive household and in a community where she suffered female genital mutilation, and her feeling of freedom escaping a forced marriage to her uncle by finding asylum in the United States. She describes her present life as a biology student at Monmouth College, practicing Islam on holidays, and missing her family home in Gambia, while hoping to become a gynecologist in the future.

Transcript
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Additional Notes
Outline

Narrator: Isatou Dukareh

Date: 7/26/19

Location: Throgs Neck Public Library in the Bronx, NY


Content Warning: Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Summary: Isatou explains her experience in Gambia, in an abusive household and in a community where she suffered female genital mutilation, and her feeling of freedom escaping a forced marriage to her uncle by finding asylum in the United States. She describes her present life as a biology student at Monmouth College, practicing Islam on holidays, and missing her family home in Gambia, while hoping to become a gynecologist in the future.

Topics: Childhood, Identity, Violence, Family, Conditions back home, Religion, Gender, Cultural Adjustment, Education, Employment, Service, Immigration Process


Outline

Section 1: (00:00-10:12)

  • Childhood- Born in a village called Gambissara in Gambia, West Africa in 1993. Lived there until age 5. Lived with grandma in Bansung from 5-14, then moved back with  parents at age 14

  • Family- Lived with lots of family in a diverse community of different tribes and cultures while doing primary school

  • Identity- Dad is from Serahule tribe and mom is from Mandinka tribe. She is more attached to Mandinka culture

  • Childhood- Favorite memory were the yearly traditions that brings family together

  • Circumcision is one of these traditions, but Isatou is against the actual practice

  • Discusses the process of the celebration including attire and activities

  • Family, Education- Was sent to live with parents to grow closer with them and go to a better school in the city

  • Violence- It was challenging going to live with her parents because her dad was very abusive

  • Gender- Women are treated as inferior to men in Gambia because men have the power

  • Family, violence- Dad would abuse mom if he thought she did something wrong  and did  the same to her

  • Education- Dad tried to prevent her from going to school

  • Education- Enjoyed school because she was able to see her friends and leave her home life

  • Math and science were her favorite subjects

  • Currently pre-med

Section 2: (10:12-20:37)

  • Immigration process- Felt free from what she left behind

  • Family- Aunt was the one who sponsored her visa and supported her

  • Education- Applied to go to school in the U.S. to escape a forced marriage and her abusive dad

  • Service- Volunteered at a food bank in Harlem while figuring out what to do next

  • Immigration Process- Worked with City Bar Justice to get asylum

  • Family, Conditions back home- At the end of middle school, her dad arranged for her and her uncle to get married against her own wishes

  • Asked her uncle/husband to allow her to stay with her parents and finish high school before becoming his wife

  • Education- In her last year of high school she was apart of the Competitive College Club, organized by the U.S. Embassy, which helped her apply to college in the U.S.

  • Was accepted by Monmouth College in Illinois and got help from her cousin to apply for a visa

  • Immigration Process- Packed the morning she was supposed to leave so her dad wouldn’t find out

  • Family- Mom and sister helped her get to the airport

Section 3: (20:37-__)

  • Education- Did not end up attending Monmouth because of the cost. Tried going to community college, but it was still too expensive

  • Immigration Process, Education- Needed to be going to school to keep her I-20, so she applied to a language school to be able to stay legally even though it was still unaffordable.

  • Family- Aunt lives with her grandma and herself

  • Family- Misses her mom and brother in Gambia, hasn’t seen them in 5 years

  • Religion- Practiced Islam in Gambia by going to the mosque, but mostly praying at home

  • Mosques are far from where she lives in the U.S., so she only goes for holidays

  • Conditions back home, Religion, Gender- In Gambia, sometimes traditions are justified as religious rules (i.e. Men being treated better than women)

  • Cultural Adjustment- Likes that she can make her own decisions in America and sees a bright future for herself

  • Education, Employment- Studying biology to become a gynecologist because her aunt is a Female Genital Mutilation victim and wants to help other women

  • Immigration Process- Is not in contact with any other refugees, and the people around her have difficulty understanding her experience

  • Immigration Process- Wishes there was a better “starting point” for immigrants to get the right information and resources to settle