Escaping the Civil War: Give me your huddled masses
February 21, 2017
A day after Frederick was born, the first Civil War in Liberia broke out.
“My house was raided by the rebels,” Frederick said.
“They were going to shoot anyone who didn’t stand with them.”
When Frederick was 3-years-old, his father fled to the U.S., two years before he and his family were able to escape. He said his father left Liberia to work and create a better life for himself, and he eventually remarried.
At five-years-old, Frederick and his family escaped to a refugee camp in on the Ivory Coast, waiting to come to the United States.
“I remember being very afraid,” Frederick said. “I remember feeling horrified to leave what family was still there.”
The now NKU junior recalls nightmares of being interrogated and interviewed with his mother and grandmother.
Frederick said he remembers a man and a woman continually asking him questions as he cried because he thought his family was in trouble.
“I’ve had nightmares since I can remember,” Frederick said. “That’s one thing that will haunt me forever.”
Frederick remembers his mother and grandmother walking to the U.S. Embassy for several months until their application was approved.
Once in the U.S., Frederick’s family took a road trip to find their new home.
“I’m not going to lie, when we reached Arizona I thought we had gone all the way back to Liberia,” Frederick said. “I was so traumatized I couldn’t get it out of my head.”
Frederick said his family found a home in Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Minnesota. He said living in Minnesota was the closest thing he had to Liberia because of the high African population.
“I didn’t need to hide from anyone or be ashamed,” Frederick said. “I was surrounded by a population of refugees like me.”
Frederick said overcoming language barriers and stereotypes were difficult. He said speaking French is one thing he wishes he didn’t forget how to do.
“No matter who we are or where we are coming from, we get teased tremendously,” Frederick said. “I just lost certain parts of me.”
After becoming a legal U.S. citizen, Frederick said he began to learn how America looks to other countries. He said America is seen as rich and “without hardships.”
Frederick said America relies on immigrants and refugees; he refuses to stand for Trump’s values and will continue sharing his story in hopes others follow.
“This is not the America that we all know in the world, the America we all talk about in other countries,” Frederick said.