My name is Peniel Yaa Afrakoma Owusu-Ansah, Yaa because I was born on a Thursday--[in Ghana], you get a name based on the day you are born. I’m 16 years old. I have three siblings: an older sister, a younger brother, and a younger sister. I’m bilingual. I speak English and Twi. I’ve been in the United States for two years. I’m from Ghana--Kumasi, Ghana. Ghana is in West Africa.
So I’m from Africa, and, you know in Africa everyone is black. It’s shocking how people are racist, because in Africa, no one is racist--I mean, we’re all black, so you can’t really be racist. Sometimes it hurts when you have to explain where you were born. Because I’m African, I don't think anyone thinks I’m smart.
No, we don’t live in trees. We don’t eat lions--I’ve never seen a lion except for at the zoo, and that was once my whole life. I’ve never eaten a squirrel. I don't eat snakes. We don't wear weird crazy old clothing--we wear normal clothing. People ask me lot if we live in trees in Ghana. Sorry, we don't. Sorry if that’s disappointing to you. I mean, my house in Ghana was bigger than my house now.
I feel like when you’re in Ghana, you don’t realize how underprivileged you are. But I never felt that I was underprivileged. I never had a phone in Ghana because people are tight and close-knit.
My parents left their home and everything for me to come here; to come to America just to have an opportunity. So I feel like if I have a lot of money, I can like do something to say thank you, and do something to help improve my country. And teachers don’t make a lot of money, no offense. I mean, my mom was a teacher. But no, I want to work in law, and I want to work with children. I just want to help every child. I just love children. I want to build an orphanage in Ghana, and stuff like that. Maybe even foster kids.
I really want to be a child-advocate lawyer when I grow up, but my parents and my family members, have a misconception that I won’t be able to get a job because people can’t understand me with my accent. I think my accent restricts me a lot--it’s why I don’t like talking. I want to get out of this shell thingy, where I’m not afraid to talk, because I really do want to be a child advocate lawyer. I just love children.
Interview and photo by Mia Nguyen