Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Moulaye Indrissa Barry, March 27, 2014

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Family background, childhood, and schooling in Senegal

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Partial Transcript: I'm Jack Wilson interviewing Moulaye Barry who was born in the nation of Senegal for the Africans in the Bluegrass Oral History Project at the University of Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Born in 1972, Barry grew up in a village south of The Gambia, which splits Senegal, as the son of doctor who died when he was very young. His father had five wives and 35 children (Barry was about number 32). His mother believed in education and so he lived with a brother who was a teacher and went to village school in Goudomp and later to high school in a bigger town, Kolda, and then to University of Dakar in 1984 in the English Department.

Keywords: Cheikh Anta Diop University; Goudomp; Kolda; Occupations; Parents; Schooling; University of Dakar; Village of birth

Subjects: Childhood; Education; Families.

GPS: The Gambia
Map Coordinates: 13.466667, -16.6
GPS: Senegal
Map Coordinates: 14.666667, -17.416667
GPS: Goudomp, Senegal
Map Coordinates: 12.577778, -15.872222
GPS: Kolda, Senegal
Map Coordinates: 12.883333, -14.95
GPS: University of Dakar
Map Coordinates: 14.686944, -17.463333
00:06:42 - Educational system in Senegal

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Partial Transcript: Um, for those who may listen to this and not be familiar with the system--

Segment Synopsis: Barry describes the educational system and the exams in Senegal. Education was free, including copy books and supplies. His mother who was running a restaurant was proud of him for being second on the exam to get into high school. He started English in high school. He describes the yearly exams and the national baccalaureate exam, written and oral. He went to University of Dakar majoring in English literature in 1994 but started in 1995 because of a strike and finished in 2000 with masters in African literature. At that time his mother was sick with cancer and he was also helping care for her.

Keywords: African literature; African literature.; Baccalaureate; Brother's roles; Cheikh Anta Diop University; English; English literature; Exams; French; Fulani; Languages:Wolof; Mandingo; Mother's role; School system; Spanish; University of Dakar

Subjects: Education; Higher education

GPS: Senegal
Map Coordinates: 14.666667, -17.416667
GPS: University of Dakar
Map Coordinates: 14.686944, -17.463333
00:23:17 - Jobs after university

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Partial Transcript: What did you do after you completed your university?

Segment Synopsis: Barry went back to the village for his mother's burial and taught English but "money was not good." "When I went back to the village what could I do with my education? I had to take care of my grandparents." Then he went to work in 2001 in Dakar for $200 a month for a company clearing and transporting containers and worked there using his English until 2006.

Keywords: English; Jobs; Transport company

Subjects: Dakar (Senegal); Employment

GPS: Dakar, Senegal
Map Coordinates: 14.692778, -17.446667
00:27:15 - Coming to the United States

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Partial Transcript: So how did you happen to come to the United States?

Segment Synopsis: Barry was always fascinated with English and always dreamed of living in an English-speaking country. He first applied to a university in England and his visa was denied. He also dreamed of America as the place to be. In 2006 he met his ex-wife who was American and he chose to come to the US because of a change of government causing the South African company he was working for to leave.

Keywords: America; England; English; Jobs; Reason for coming to America

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Employment

00:33:45 - Coming to Kentucky and graduate degree

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Partial Transcript: I was impressed.

Segment Synopsis: Barry came to a "cocoon" because his wife already had a job and a house. "We knew Abraham Lincoln. We didn't know Kentucky." Lexington reminds him of his green part of Senegal in the summer. He likes Kentucky because you can go to school, get a job, dream big. He knows the importance of education, the difficulty of learning non-academic English, the emphasis on writing. His wife encouraged him to go to school and he got an assistantship in the French Department and got a masters in two years. He also worked as translator for Kentucky Refugee Ministries and unloaded trucks at Meijer. In two more years he did a graduate teaching certificate. He taught for a semester at Georgetown College, a semester at Transylvania University, then back at Georgetown College as an adjunct. He was considering a doctorate, and is interested in immigration and why people leave.

Keywords: French literature; Graduate school; Jobs; Scholarships; Teaching French; Translators

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Higher education; Teachers--Kentucky; University of Kentucky

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
GPS: Senegal
Map Coordinates: 14.666667, -17.416667
GPS: Georgetown College
Map Coordinates: 38.207, -84.554
GPS: Transylvania University
Map Coordinates: 38.0522, -84.4936
00:50:42 - What is immigration?

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, I do think like it's good somebody, you know, tells exactly what immigration is.

Segment Synopsis: Barry is interested in doing research about immigration. He talks about the Senegalese trying to get to Europe, and immigrants not understanding what it is like in the West, especially uneducated Africans. America is more educated about immigrants because it is a nation of immigrants.

Keywords: Europe; Legal immigrants

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.

00:55:18 - Expectations of America / Helping back home

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so you are now, now teaching at Georgetown, uh, as an adjunct...

Segment Synopsis: Barry talks about the expectations immigrants have before they come to America and how immigrants send money to help others back home after they come. He has helped his brother and sister get educations and started a proprietary school for 300 pupils.

Keywords: Dreams; Grateful; Supporting family at home

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants; Schools

GPS: Senegal
Map Coordinates: 14.666667, -17.416667
01:00:45 - Acculturation and cultural differences

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Partial Transcript: Uh, in, in what ways do you feel you've become acculturated in the U.S.?

Segment Synopsis: Barry has learned to be less judgmental after growing up as a Muslim. He was surprised to see people living together but not married. He was surprised at tattoos, at people smiling, at everything being modern. "Every time you go out there is something different." He understands that homosexuality is accepted in U.S. but people have problem with it in Senegal. He accepts that he will respect others' practice as long as they respect others. "Everyone has his own tomb." He has become more interested in what lifts people up than gets them down. He talks about being a Muslim.

Keywords: Acceptance; Adjustment; Cultural differences; Fulani; Gay; Guinea; Imam; Muslims; Respect

Subjects: Culture and customs of North America; Culture.

01:11:26 - Good and bad aspects of being in the U.S.

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Partial Transcript: Uh, can you describe a, uh, a really good experience--

Segment Synopsis: Barry is grateful for scholarship, education, jobs and the opportunity to start school back home. "The only thing I don't like is the loneliness here. It is more individual here rather than family, community." Coming here, "you lose who you were and who you're going to be." "What matters is the people."

Keywords: Family; Jobs; Lack of community; Loneliness; Scholarship

Subjects: Education; Emigration and immigration.; Employment; Immigrants--Kentucky

01:16:21 - Family back home

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Partial Transcript: Do, uh, uh--you were married, you're now--

Segment Synopsis: Barry talks about communicating with family (beyond sister and brother from same mother to siblings of his father's other four wives) back home, usually by phone. He is the only member of his family in the U.S.

Keywords: Communication; Family

Subjects: Families.

GPS: Senegal
Map Coordinates: 14.666667, -17.416667
01:18:27 - Identity, and more about why people immigrate

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Partial Transcript: When you meet somebody--

Segment Synopsis: Barry says he is from West Africa. "Only four out of ten will know Senegal. "For someone to say 'What brought you here?" is shocking because in my country you wouldn't ask such personal questions." " People come here because of the dream." People also come because of the people here.

Keywords: Computer literacy; Dream to succeed; Personal questions; Senegal; West Africa

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Identity.; Immigrants

GPS: Senegal
Map Coordinates: 14.666667, -17.416667