Coming to Philadelphia: Seven Stories

Africans leave their home countries and immigrate to the United States area for a variety of reasons. Some are sojourners who are seeking their fortune in the U.S. Many come as students and stay on to work as professionals. Others are fleeing political turmoil in their countries of origin and come to the U.S. as refugees or as asylum seekers. Some arrive with the idea of resettling forever. Many others view their time here as temporary and dream of returning home when they have accomplished their goals, or conditions improve in their country of origin. Most immigrants agree that while adaptation is a difficult process, there are many benefits to life in the United States.

Presented here are seven case studies of Africans who have immigrated to Philadelphia. They illustrate typical immigrant scenarios: coming to attend university, obtaining a work visa to practice a specialized profession, marrying an American citizen, being resettled as a refugee, obtaining political asylum, and winning the U.S. Diversity Lottery. Yet each individual or family story also has its unique aspects.