(Temwa Phiri) Journey I was born in Zambia and lived near Lusaka, that's thecapitol, for eight years. In October 1998 we moved over to the United States to East Lansing, Michigan. Living in Africa, being eight-years-old, everything's exciting. You're in the phase of learning a lot of different things. I went to private elementary schools there. I also had the whole family in the area. We did a lot of family stuff, tribal, cultural stuff. For the most part I do remember it. I've got my older two brothers that remember everything, and then my younger brother has a fair amount that he does remember. Education is what brought us over to the United States. My father was a banker, so he managed over 40 or 50 different banks. They called him for approval for different things. My mother was also an accountant there. Fortunately enough, my mother's high school teacher came from East Lansing. They taught in Zambia for some time and grew pretty close with my mom. They became really close friends. They recommended a great place to move to for education in East Lansing.
(Temwa Phiri) Journey I got a random postcard from UD. At the time, it wassenior year, I was thinking about where my peers before me have actually gone. They've gone to out-of-state. I was just like it would be really cool to go out-of-state and experience a different area and expand myself there. What helped out actually is what I was doing while in high school. I was very involved in the Black Student Union, with track, with football, and then when wrestling came along, and also doing a lot of volunteering. I was kind of like able to create my own thing, but I wanted to see if that's because my family was already here. My two oldest brothers already had some sort of name that they created for themselves in the high school. So I got a postcard from UD. I was like, "Ok, this is a really cool football field that they got. Looks awesome and well kept. I'm pretty sure the rest of the campus doesn't look that bad." So I came here, fell in love with the place. It was weird driving in. There was no police officers, no cars really around. I mean, it was late at night, but still I saw an elderly lady just walking with her purse like it was no problem, one AM. I was sitting here looking around like maybe there might some cop cars flying around nothing. I'm used to the whole Lansing area. It's a bigger city itself, so there's a lot of police patrolling. Anyways, I took my tour and fell in love with the place.
My first promotion to any student who goes to college is join organizations, getyourself active in at least something. The people that you meet may not impact you now, but later on they will. The transition into the Dubuque community life was pretty smooth. At the point of maybe sophomore or junior year I started doing more of the volunteering within the community. I started meeting locals. Started building relationships with different businesses, so that was little checkmark, bookmark points for later on. "Ok, these are points I can touch on when I start expanding out in that area." It went pretty smoothly. I work with the Reengagement Program with the Dubuque Community School District. I work as a Reengagement Coach, and I work with students that are 16 to 21 that are at risk. I don't like the term, but they're dropouts. What I do is that I serve them by doing some outreach. The school gives me a list of whoever has dropped out, and I find them within the community and plug them whether to getting their diploma or physically going back to school or working with myself on-line or we can go towards the High SED route, which is the GED. It's a new programming that they're going through. I challenged myself to create my own name, create my own thing, and that's what this has become being here in Dubuque. It's become something I created. It became a lot bigger than myself simply because of the people that I met and the impact I was hearing I was having. I care about the connections that I do have. I would hate to pull myself from that just to have to start all over in a different area when I could be of use while here.
(Temwa Phiri) Acad & Soc When I was in Zambia, my mom, we went to Trinity Churchthere, a non-denominational Christian church. When we came to the United States there was a Trinity Church there, too. It had the same feel, background, and everything else. I grew up within the church, my mom being like the leader. I also knew going into college that I'm on my own. I don't have mom, my spiritual leader, being there able to help me, so I need to kind of connect quickly. There's a thing that happens when you go to college. A lot of life starts happening and different things you start experiencing will challenge you, your faith, your beliefs, and everything else. If you're not really prepared for it, you'll- I wouldn't say go astray. Your journey will be a lot different than what it could be. When I first got here I spoke with Jim Gunn, trying to be involved with the chapel right away before I had anything else I was involved in. I wanted that to be the first. I knew what would happen because I can't say no for the most part. So I started getting involved with going to chapel and seeing the Gospel Choir. That was another thing I was involved in, just trying to anchor myself as best I could. The spiritual pulls were there. Having chapel Monday, Wednesday, Friday, that was great. And then I had Sunday service over at New Life that was just up the hill closer to Finley. That's where I went. Being at a university that has a Christian belief, that helps. In class you can express your spirituality, whatever your spirituality is. I think that really helped out to get me more anchored.