Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Venus Niza, February 9, 2017

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Growing up and education in Ivory Coast

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Partial Transcript: I am Angene Wilson.

Segment Synopsis: Venus Niza was born in Abidjan in 1989, the only child of both her mother and father. She loved playing outside. She went to a private primary school. She went to public middle and high schools where there were 80 students (middle school) and more than 112 (high school). French was the language of instruction from the beginning of school. Her father, who was a government official, wanted her to go to private middle school but her mother thought that going to public schools was part of her education. She graduated from secondary school in 2007 and then studied physics and chemistry to obtain an associate degree at university until the university was closed for two years after the disputed presidential elections.

Keywords: Abidjan (Ivory Coast); Chemistry; Family; French; Physics; Private schools; Public schools

Subjects: Côte d'Ivoire; Education; Families.

GPS: Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Map Coordinates: 5.316667, -4.033333
00:11:03 - Diversity visa lottery

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Partial Transcript: Now did you--were you married at that time?

Segment Synopsis: Niza's fiance suggested applying for the diversity visa and when she got the visa they got married and came to the U.S. She did start learning English in middle school. She also mentions many friends leaving Ivory Coast for Ghana.

Keywords: Diversity Visa; English; Ghana; Marriage

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.

GPS: Ghana
Map Coordinates: 7.816667, -1.05
00:16:05 - Coming to Lexington, Kentucky / Jobs

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Partial Transcript: And how did you decide to come to Lexington?

Segment Synopsis: Niza describes a Congolese pastor in the International Christian Church of Lexington started by William Branham who paid for their plane tickets, hosted them for three months, and helped them get settled. She got a job at Amazon and her husband got a job making sun roofs in a factory.

Keywords: Amazon, Inc.; Branham; Coming to Lexington; Congolese pastor; Jobs

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Employment--Kentucky; Immigrants--Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.).

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
00:20:54 - Adjusting to Lexington

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Partial Transcript: And so then, when did you start at BCTC taking English and so forth?

Segment Synopsis: Niza describes the difficulty of hearing and learning English. She does speak French with her husband and child and Congolese pastor. She was surprised at older women wearing shorts here and always wears long skirts herself. She cooks African food at home though her son likes French fries and ketchup.

Keywords: Accents; Adjustment; Clothes; English; Food; French; Selby's

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants--Kentucky

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
00:32:19 - Good and bad experiences

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Partial Transcript: Um, so what are a couple of s--what are several really good experiences that you've had since you came?

Segment Synopsis: Niza thinks about the U.S. as the place of all her good adult experiences. She had her son here and she really loves school here because of the equipment for science. The hardest thing is taking your child with you everywhere, when in Ivory Coast she would have family to help her. "American life is too stressful, more than during war in Ivory Coast." Her husband says it is not easy but better than Ivory Coast.

Keywords: Childcare; Experiences; Family; Stress

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

GPS: Ivory Coast
Map Coordinates: 8, -5
00:39:30 - Communication with family

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Partial Transcript: Uh, so, um, you don't have any other family in the United States, but, uh, but your mother's here.

Segment Synopsis: Niza communicates with family back in Ivory Coast via Facebook, WhatsApp, and an Abidjan website. Her small cousins would like to come here.

Keywords: Communication with family; Contact; Facebook; WhatsApp

Subjects: Families.; Immigrants

GPS: Ivory Coast
Map Coordinates: 8, -5
00:41:56 - Questions and identity

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Partial Transcript: Okay, um, what kinds of--we talked about this before the interview.

Segment Synopsis: Niza has to explainto people that she is not a refugee but has a diversity visa. She knows ten people here from Ivory Coast, and others from Congo (both Kinshasha and Brazzaville), Kenya, Ghana, and Burundi. Her mother said "No one knows about Ivory Coast." She tells people she is from Ivory Coast in West Africa and bordering Ghana. She thinks of herself as not so attached to country or culture. She can keep some from her culture and adopt some from another culture. She likes science because the same words are used all over the world. Religion is also universal.

Keywords: Diversity Visa; Questions

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Identity (Psychology); Immigrants--Kentucky

GPS: Ivory Coast
Map Coordinates: 8, -5
00:54:03 - Discrimination in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Well one question that we always ask is, um--because we're concerned about that in Kentucky, have you experienced any discrimination or racism in Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Niza talks about her husband who was denied promotions that others got. She would like people to take some effort to understand a person whose accent is different. All of her teachers have listened to her and are helping her.

Keywords: Bluegrass Community & Technical College (BCTC); Helpful teachers; Interpretation of discrimination

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

GPS: Bluegrass Community & Technical College (BCTC)
Map Coordinates: 38.02481, -84.50365