Around the United States in 90 Days

back to Family Stories, Spring 2020

by Kristella Muvunankiko

Traditional home in Kigali, Rwanda

My aunt Genevieve took a chance on coming to a new country to make a better life. She was one of the first people in my family to come to the United States. Aunt Genevieve was born in 1966 in Gigaram, Rwanda.

Aunt Genevieve left Rwanda in her early twenties for the United States in 1988. She recalled being shocked by the big cars, and the abundance of food in the supermarkets,  During her time, she went to Hunter College in NY to learn English.

LSU health center in Shreveport

After spending a few years in New York, her husband got the opportunity to became the first black chief of cardiac anesthesiology at Louisiana State University in Shreveport in 1990, so she moved. Shreveport, Louisiana was different from any place she had ever been, and all of her kids were born there. The southern culture was apparent with the hospitality and politeness and she noticed how different it was from NYC.

However, life in Louisiana did not last long. Even though, Shreveport had its perks, it was not going to be home for long. After four years, her husband wanted to do private practice. So, she moved from Shreveport, LA to Laredo, TX.

Living in Laredo made in necessary that my aunt speaks Spanish, so she went back to school to learn. She has lived in Laredo ever since, She has four kids, Josh, who went to serve in the army, and now is about to attend law school at UT Austin, Cherise, who is considering medical school, Noella, who is going to be a psychologist, and Randelle, who is going to be a nurse.

Rwandan dancers

America varies from Rwanda without the vibrant colors, patterns, and traditions, America provided freedom that not everyone has access to, and it allows someone to make a life for themselves. United States is the only place that could happen. Even though she spent her childhood in Rwanda, U.S. became her new home.

And here’s my tik tok about this piece of my family story!