This is part two of the Mwalimu “Got the Green Card, now what?” series.
These pieces of advice are meant for the benefit of those who have gotten the US Green Card status recently or those who are hoping to
get the Green Card in the near future. If you missed part one, find it here.

    OK, so you have heard all the good things about the USA, right?. But is it all true? For example:

  • Why do well qualified professionals who left their jobs take between 3-5 years to get a decent job?
  • Why do so many student get “lost”, not coming back even for important issues?
  • Why do most Kenyans spend many many years doing non fulfilling survival jobs?

Here are some of the issues that you need to consider before making that all important life decision.(And for some, before abandoning your plum Kenyan job)

  1. Life is difficult everywhere. The west have their own set of unique problems.
  2. If your professional experience is in an area such as Management, finance, etc, that is not considered a skills shortage area (e.g. high tech, some select engineering areas, some select health care), you are greatly at a disadvantage when competing with Americans for jobs.
      The generally agreed but unspoken rule is:you have to be twice as good as a white on a skill to be picked over the white
  3. Racism is still very real, though indirectly and subtly expressed. For those who may doubt this, consider this:
    • Those declarations such as “Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action“, by companies, “Equal Housing Lender” by Mortgage Companies, should tell you something. They are not just historical. The Federal government may have imposed them, but people’s hearts have not changed much. These should reminder you that all is not always well.
    • Those very visible “diversity” efforts in the work places should tell you that the work place hiring is still conservative.
    • The Lot of the majority of African Americans has not improved much since 1960s. If anything, it has gone south. Ask yourself, why are over 70% of inmates AA? Why have all those 1960s “traditional Black Schools” become predominantly white? etc.
    • But before you think “why are they so racist“, ask yourself this “why are we so tribal in Kenya?
  4. Today there are skills shortage ( even in STEM ), tomorrow there may be abundant labor. Think about this: if things changed and employers had to carry out layoffs, who do you think would be laid off first? Americans?
  5. If you are in your middle ages ( late 30s and above ) and have a family, or holding a senior position in Kenya, expect the possibility of a severely disrupted career growth and lost networking.
  6. If you have a family, your kids WILL find it difficult fitting in: If you are a parent and have school going kids, and they have to attend schools that are mostly white think about the pressure to fit in that your kid is suddenly presented with. (Most public schools in most school districts are practical useless, so, if you are a cut above others, you are most likely going to seek “better” schools, which will be either private schools or schools in good neighborhoods (white neighborhoods)),
  7. You are at a disadvantage when competing with American Citizens for employment/resources, unless you posses some of the sought after skills.
  8. That pay may appear huge by Kenyan Standards, but the cost of living is also quite high. In 2006, the poverty line was $20,614 for a family of four.

    For example, if you work a $10/hr, you will be living in poverty.

  9. Culture shock is real. Fitting in can be a real problem to many foreigners. Americans have a high sense of individualism. Forming close lasting relationships is very difficult. To deal with this problem, you may decide to hang with your own type, but you will miss out on many things:
    • How do you get motivated to aim high and progress if the standard is those around you who may be low in the food chain?
    • How do you learn how to navigate they system if you do not spend time with those who grew up in the system?
    • How will you know the thinking of those who “cause things” to happen in this country?
  10. The law enforcement is generally very unfriendly to African Americans ( you WILL be profiled into this category and you are always guilty in their eyes). African Americans may show dislike towards successful African immigrants (who they may believe make them look bad! )
  11. If you ever find yourself on the wrong side of the law and go to Prison, you are forever marked. You may NEVER work again, may never own a home, may NEVER RENT a reputable apartment, e.t.c.
  12. If you have/hope to raise a family, America is not the best place for raising Kids. While better than Europe, the social environment is increasingly becoming unfriendly to kids. It is especially unfriendly to those with strong Christian ethics. For Born-again Christians, your faith may be tried as never before, not to mention that you may miss your African worship experience!
  13. Adverse health due to change in environment and very costly health care.
  14. Too late to move back: If you moved after abandoning your Kenyan job, and realize that things are not working out for you, it is normally too late to go back. Possible reasons: fear of being labeled a “failure”, re-starting again in Kenya can be difficult, tasting the western lifestyle has an addictive effect, etc .

SO SHOULD I GO?

Despite the potential problems, IF

* You are young and/or
* You have nothing to loose and/or
* Your risk tolerance is high AND
* You do not care much for your country

GO FOR IT

But if

you have a family, you have a decent job in Kenya, You have something to lose,

Go study the place first, see if it will work for you, before you plunge in.

 

3 Responses to Got the Green Card, Now what? (Should i go? Take my Family?)

  1. […] do read this post and this post if you are wondering how life will be once you get the sought after but elusive Green […]

  2. […] contemplate getting the Green card some times in the near future. Previous articles are here: * Got the Green Card, Now what? (Should i go? Take my Family?) * Got the Green Card, now what? Now, most people, coming from Kenya where it is traditionally […]

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