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