Immigration Stories – Kenya and Minnesota – Being Away From Home – by Jane Kariuki. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and

Immigration Stories – Kenya and Minnesota – Being Away From Home – by Jane Kariuki. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and

Without question, it is everyone’s desire to live happily or freely in a society that provides equal opportunity and a secured future either for themselves or their families. Likewise, for the better future of our family was my parent’s main reason for relocating from Kenya to Minnesota. My parents were privileged enough to apply and win the Green Card lottery. They saw this as an opportunity to advance themselves and the future of their children. After receiving the confirmation news they began the process of acquiring the rights documents that will approve them to move to the States. Both my parents describe the process as exhausting. Claiming it took years to collects all the necessary documents. Some of the difficult documents to retrieve were marriage and birth certificate. Being born and raised at small towns neither of them received a birth certificate, for such acts were uncommon. Additionally, a traditional marriage does not require a marriage certificate and they never bothered to obtain it. Therefore gaining these certificates and other documents often made them weary about the progress of migrating.

Even though the process was burdensome they both admit it was worth it. Being at a place where they can both find jobs and send their children to school was a dream come true. After their arrival, they took time to start looking for a job and after some time they both got a job with a decent pay. Nevertheless, migrating has come with its challenges; especially the lack of fresh cultural food. The main challenge for my parents was adapting to the practice of eating refrigerated food. Coming from a background that believes in growing, harvesting and cooking their own food, they had to adjust to the commonality of purchasing food from a grocery store. My mom declares that the flavor is simply not the same, for instance, fresh greens is better than frozen. Nevertheless, they have been looking for ways to get fresh food and in the recent years they started a small garden on our backyard, planting tomatoes, and various greens.

From Professor Liang’s Fall 2018 Global Human Rights class. Jane Kariuki Peace and Justice Studies and Global Cultural and Language Studies Class of 2020.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at)

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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy ( is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our guiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five years we have published over 300 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our volunteer student editors and writers come from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors ( We have an all volunteer staff. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang and NSR Student Editors and Writers. For a brief summary of our history, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

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Filed under Global Studies, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes

13 responses to “Immigration Stories – Kenya and Minnesota – Being Away From Home – by Jane Kariuki. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and

  1. DyAnna Grondahl


    Thank you for sharing this article – it reminds me of your workshop last semester in human rights. I think it is interesting to ponder the differences in food culture around the world. A few years ago, I had a conversation with my doctor about “local-vorism” which is rooted (pun intended) in eating only what the land has traditionally provided in certain areas. I think food diversity is among one of the moderately good things about globalism – our interconnected world made fruits like bananas and oranges a possibility in Northern MN. At the same time, it is incredible to think about the journey this food travels from farm-to-plate, which has it’s own host of consequences. I am interested in hearing about how the rest of your paper went, and how you see globalization impacting food culture.

    Thank you!

  2. Marissa Mikrot

    Thanks for your article, Jane! It’s great hearing something from you since you’ve been afraid for what seems like forever. With that, I wonder if you have faced any food changes in Europe. Would you say the quality of the food is better, the same, or maybe even worse? Do you miss the food your parents make? Have you found ways to recreate these dishes?

    I’ve always admired the emphasis on quality that many European countries have and wish they would be adopted by the U.S. The freshness of the products there, whether vegetables, fruit, or meat, is really incredible! Truly like the things you are buying are fresh from the garden.

  3. Cassandra Mahlberg

    Thank you for sharing this story, Jane! Something that is really interesting to me is the Green Card Lottery. Having to literally win a lottery in order to have just a chance at a better life (whatever your family considers that to be) sounds unimaginable. I dream about the monetary lottery and all the things I could do with a substantial amount of money, but realistically, I don’t need to win the lottery to build a decent life for myself. Having your movement restricted and reliant on a gamble seems unjust (although I don’t have a valid solution for this problem). It’s also interesting that some of the sacrifices your parents made in order to live here involve food. With the vastness of globalization, we expect to have what we want to suit our cultural needs readily available to us, and yet some of the most basic things like fresh produce elude us. I’m glad your family was able to develop a garden, but I wonder if there is a community resource like a winter greenhouse that could help supplement fresher produce in the cold season near your home. Food security and sustainability is finally being recognized as necessary in Duluth with Seeds for Success leading a project for a winter greenhouse and farmer’s markets throughout the winter. I wonder if this resource helps people in Duluth to connect back to their cultures through fresh food.

  4. Aleah

    ! Reading about your family’s experience is very interesting to me because my father had to go through a huge process to obtain his green card in order to stay in the states. My grandmother, who recently lives in Mexico, was just approved of her green card after 15 years! My father said the process was very long and exhausting as well but worth it in the end. Thank you so much for sharing this article!


  5. Samantha Willert


    It is amazing that your family was able to get a green card and move to Minnesota. I am curious as to why they chose Minnesota. Did they have other places in mind? Also, how long did it take them to get their certificates?

    I find it quite admirable that your family has started a garden in the backyard to grow fresh greens! Not many people would do that! Thank you for sharing your story!

  6. Phillip Truax

    Dear Jane,

    Thank you for sharing this personal story about your family. The main idea that really hit home to me was the idea that it was an adjustment to not eat personal grown vegetables. I have pondered on this idea for awhile because in a world that needs to be more sustainable, home gardens would be one of things to put on the top of the check list. I applaud your parents, it may not be knowingly but they are creating change.

  7. Ashley DeJuliannie


    Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I admire your family for all that they have done for you. I am interested to know how much you were exposed to dual cultures growing up? As you mentioned about the difference in food, I often wish the US had a deeper connection with the food we eat. I am happy to hear your family started a small garden. Connecting with nature is something I read a lot about when I read The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan last semester. He really dove into the history of how Western Culture got disconnected with the food we eat.

    Again thank you for sharing!

  8. Elijah Ortega

    Hello Jane,
    Thank you for sharing your family’s immigration story with all of us. Being the son of a immigrant myself and knowing many family members whom have also gone through the migratory process I found many similarities in your family’s story and my own. For instance the fact that it is a painful process that takes years to complete. This is something very real and trying thing that I do not believe many American citizens are made aware of. I enjoyed your piece on the cultural differences your parents are facing, with the refrigerating of food, this was something unfamiliar to me and I thank you for sharing it. Learning the customs and traditions of other cultures is something that excites me and I am ever grateful whenever a new perspective is given to me.
    Thank you for this read.

  9. Tamer Mische-Richter


    Fresh cultural foods is something that we often forget for the families that move to a different part of the world. I think this adds stress to a process that is already stressful. I do however, think this can be remedied fairly easily through sharing traditional practices. Food is a carrier of culture that shares both personal and familial memories, traditions, and feelings. Fair opportunity is a huge reason to uproot yourself and family to a new beginning, but the taste of home would help with the process.

  10. Catey Swenson

    I’m so glad you shared this story; I was so unaware of how selective and difficult it is to come to the US. For example, I did not know that there was such thing as the Green Card lottery. It is crazy that people must rely off of luck to better their lives. I was also unaware how uncommon it is to have marriage or birth certificates. I often wonder why marriage certificates are even required in the US; it really goes to show how much the government really controls in our personal lives. As for the food, it is really cool to hear that your family actually had to assimilate to using refrigerated foods instead of fresh right out of the garden for each meal. That is definitely something I failed to recognize in the past but something I can learn from. Mass food production and trade is very wasteful and it is refreshing to know that, while it may seem inefficient to some, there are people in this world who are dedicated to sustainable farming practices.
    Thank you for sharing!

  11. Katelyn Fischer

    Hi Jane!
    Thank you for sharing! I can’t imagine the process of getting a green card. Providing documents and proof must be very stressful. I remember you talking about how hard it can be to not have the fresh cultural food. Have you found a way to work around this?

  12. Madina Tall

    Hi jane!

    I loved reading your article about your parents migration story! It seems to be a very common theme within immigrants that food is a big topic for discussion. It seems quite odd to me that our taste buds could tell us so much about who we are and where we come from. Another main theme is opportunity and I guess all migrants for one reason of the other are chasing opportunities.

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