My first name is Salifou, last name Dao. And I’m from Ivory Coast, which is a small country in West Africa.
I came here in October 2009 when I took a plane from my country we came first in New York. I was a traffic manager in my country, I worked at a railroad company. It was a kind of dream, I never forgot I’m gonna come in America. One day I was checking on the newspaper, and I saw that there was a lottery, visa lottery, and I saw that when I was in high school. So I was trying to figure out how I can play it and I heard that you can take a paper and write down your name, the address, and tape a photo, a picture on it and send it to the address that they had put on the newspaper. In 2000 they set it up on computer, and in 2008 I get my name on it- 8 years later. So this is how I get here, win the visa lottery.
When we came from a country in which you speak French, you think about the language. After the language, you think about the food. The first thing I did when I come here is to find a food, so the first store I was in was a Safeway. This is one thing I like in America; when you try to speak to someone, they try to understand what you are saying. They try to help you to understand what you are saying and sometimes when I tried to talk to them, they gave me some words to let me talk to them. I was very very happy to see that. They don’t reject you like “oh you don’t speak English? Oh I don’t want to talk to you”. No no I never met someone telling me that. I have a secret, before I go somewhere, to Safeway for example, what I try to do is to have a paper, and write down what I’m gonna buy in English. So when I go there, I don’t find what I need I show the paper to the guy because I know that when you are looking for something you can say “hey I’m looking for this or I’m looking for that”. I show him the paper, and he says “oh you’re looking for rice?” and I say “yeah” . Then he shows me where the rice is. I keep that in my pocket and I go to the shop. This is how I do, and I think it is the best way to learn, and I’m ok with that.