Interview with Kennedy Boateng, November 4, 2016

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Introduction, family, and education

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Partial Transcript: I'm Jack Wilson.

Segment Synopsis: Kennedy Boateng was born in Accra, Ghana in 1968. His father died before he was born, and he had four siblings. His mother is originally from Ashanti Region and now lives with two of his siblings in England. He went to government primary school and then took the Common Entrance Exam. He went to a boarding high school in Ashanti Region for four years. He went to University of Cape Coast and studied mathematics and received a diploma in education. He talks about "getting saved" during secondary school in 1985 which helped him. He did his National Service by teaching at a community college in Accra and then taught in a secondary school in Accra.

Keywords: Accra, Ghana; Common Entrance Exam; Family; Ghana; University of Cape Coast

Subjects: Education; Families.; Religion

GPS: Accra, Ghana
Map Coordinates: 5.55, -0.2
GPS: Ashanti Region
Map Coordinates: 6.666667, -1.616667
GPS: University of Cape Coast
Map Coordinates: 5.1036, -1.2825
00:12:00 - To Botswana and then Lexington, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Oh, and what took you to Botswana?

Segment Synopsis: Boateng went to Zimbabwe and Botswana during a vacation break in 1987. He got a teaching job in Gaberone, Botswana and taught there for a year. He then came to New York City and visited his cousin and then visited a friend who was studying physics in Lexington in 1998. He came on a visitor's visa and then got his papers.

Keywords: Coming to the U.S.; Gaberone, Botswana; Lexington (Ky.); New York City (N.Y.); Visitor's Visa; Zimbabwe

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants

GPS: Gaberone, Botswana
Map Coordinates: -24.658056, 25.912222
GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
GPS: New York City (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.661, -73.944
GPS: Zimbabwe
Map Coordinates: -20, 30
00:17:18 - Jobs in the United States

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Partial Transcript: So tell me a little something about your first coming here.

Segment Synopsis: Boateng had cousins who had been in the U.S. so he had the idea that "America is a place of opportunity." Some cousins, even without college, had been able to do well. He compares opportunities in Accra, Ghana to Lexington, Kentucky and to New York City. He didn't have culture shock because he had lived in Botswana and was excited by opportunities; the only shock was "too many white people." He worked at Walmart as a maintenance officer for six months when he first came. He was fired because he complained he couldn't work in the smoking room. Then he drove a taxi for almost 12 years, starting in 2000 which enabled him to buy a house. He brought his wife to the U.S. who worked at Gall's making police uniforms for about five years and then got her GED then Certified Nursing Assistant, and her LPN in Virginia. She completed her RN in August 2016 and is now doing her BSN at Capella University. He got to know Nepali refugees and invited them to his church. He was ordained as a minister at Grace Fellowship in 2012 and started Christ Ambassadors International. They have two services, in Nepali and English. In the evening he helps at the Liberian service, playing the drums and sometimes giving the message.

Keywords: Careers; Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA); Christ Ambassadors International Church; General Educational Development (GED); Grace Fellowship Church; Jobs; Licensed practical nurse (LPN); Nepal; Opportunity; Registered nurse (RN); Taxi driving; Walmart; Wife's education

Subjects: Churches; Employment--Kentucky; Religion

GPS: Accra, Ghana
Map Coordinates: 5.55, -0.2
GPS: New York City (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.661, -73.944
GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
00:34:37 - Family in the U.S. and in Ghana

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Partial Transcript: Tell me a little something more about, uh, your immediate family.

Segment Synopsis: Boateng's family opened their home to foster kids. They "fell in love" with two siblings who lived with them for three years and asked to be adopted. He has two biological children. The oldest, born in 1998, is an engineering student at University of Kentucky. His 14 year old daughter is in STEAM Academy and wants to be a lawyer. He has his teaching certificate for Kentucky and substituted and tutored but found problems teaching because of complaints about his accent. He helps extended family with money but now that he is here he might not see his brother for six months. In Ghana there was no formal adoption and often not equal education for adopted children.

Keywords: Accents; Adopted children; Brothers; Comparison of Ghanaian and American adoption systems; Cousins; Foster care; Ghanaian family structure; Nuclear family; STEAM Academy; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Adoption; Families.; Immigrants--Kentucky

GPS: Ghana
Map Coordinates: 7.816667, -1.05
GPS: Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 37.5, -85
00:48:33 - Acculturation

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Partial Transcript: Um, back to the other thing we were talking about, uh, in terms of acculturation.

Segment Synopsis: Immediate family comes first now. They can go to the African market to get food they want. The children eat African and American food.

Keywords: Acculturation; Adaptation

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Food; Immigrants--Kentucky

GPS: Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 37.5, -85
00:51:53 - Good experiences and bad experiences

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell about, uh, a couple of experiences?

Segment Synopsis: Boateng says had wonderful people helping him out, like his brother in New York, when he first came to America. Grace Fellowship Church helped him because other churches were too quiet for him. A schism in the church was not so nice.

Keywords: Good and bad experiences; Grace Fellowship Church; Negative; Positive

Subjects: Churches; Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants; Religion

00:56:19 - Communication and travel

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Partial Transcript: Uh, how do you, how do you keep in touch with the rest of your family?

Segment Synopsis: Boateng keeps in touch with family in London and Canada through Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and phone. "We are apart but together." He goes to Ghana almost every year. He is building a house in Accra and trying to invest in business in Ghana. His wife has family in Ghana. He is planning to take his children.

Keywords: Facebook; Ghana; Social media; WhatsApp

Subjects: Communication; Travel

GPS: Accra, Ghana
Map Coordinates: 5.55, -0.2
00:59:20 - Identity

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, do they, do they consider themselves, uh, Ghanaian or American--

Segment Synopsis: Boateng's children consider themselves American but they have ties with Ghana. They get together with cousins here. When asked, he says he is an American who was born and raised in Ghana.

Keywords: American citizens; Children

Subjects: Identity (Psychology); Immigrants

01:01:42 - Questions about Africa that people ask

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Partial Transcript: Let's see what else I haven't covered here.

Segment Synopsis: Boateng says people ask him stupid questions like "Do you have streets, houses in Ghana?" "Do you have internet?" he can excuse. The questioners may even be college students. Perhaps they see too much Discovery Channel. He tries to find out whether the questioner is really interested.

Keywords: Discovery Channel; Questions from Americans; Taxi drivers

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants

01:04:40 - Africans and African-Americans

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Partial Transcript: Uh, those were--and there are those who just s--I--and, and to me they are in both--

Segment Synopsis: Boateng talks about his interactions with black Americans who belittle him. He says: "Don't blame people. Work hard. Don't spend so much energy on the past. Don't watch soap operas. Get a job." He talks about his adopted African-American children and teaching them respect.

Keywords: Belittled; Disrespectful; Interaction with African-Americans

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants

01:08:47 - Contributions to Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Maybe in that vein, what do you think you have contributed to Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Boateng says, "We pay taxes." "Kentucky has been a great place for me." He stresses education to others to better themselves, using his wife who began with a GED as an example. They have opened their house to foster kids.

Keywords: Contributions; Foster care; General Educational Development (GED); Taxes

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants

01:10:59 - Other African immigrants' contributions

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Partial Transcript: What do you see that other, uh, African immigrants may have contributed to Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Immigrants are doctors, professors, and teachers. They are owning houses, driving cars, generating income, paying taxes, and building the state. Even refugees work very hard to get off welfare.

Keywords: Contributions; Doctors; Professors; Teachers

Subjects: Immigrants