The article “Out of Africa, into the Heartland,” published by KTVO ( Moling 2015), chronicles the stories of Richard and Celeste’s immigrations from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Kirksville, Missouri. In the article, Richard explains his motivation for immigration; for his family to have a better future. This consequently led them to suffer through five years separation, while Richard worked in the United States in order to save enough money for Celeste and their children to also immigrate.
This secondary source is especially useful for Alex’s and my research project, as it shares the experiences of a couple who actually might be the part of the “origin story” of the Congolese in Kirksville. Whenever I ask my English as a Second Language (ESL) professor about the Congolese, she says, “Do you know Richard and Celeste?” Being some of the first immigrants here, it follows that they are also the most publicly known individuals.
The Congolese seem to have two subpopulations. The first is immigrants who have their family with them; parents and children who were allowed to immigrate together. The second is young men, who were over the age of 21 when they received permission to come to the United States. Due to their age, they were not allowed to bring their parents or siblings. In imposing the American definition of family as nuclear, this often breaks their perception of family, where a cousin is called brother.
This is most relevant to Amy and Joy’s project comparing Apostolic and Mexican immigration in Minnesota, where apparently “Everyone works hard and honors their families.” The influence of family in chain migration might be fascinating to study across the spectrum of migration.
In researching the importance of family among migrant populations, it might be interesting to see if or how the ‘host’ community is affected by these values. Finally, family might also be a key in how chain migration actually comes to a halt. Do people stop migrating internally once there family settles there? Once they start having family there? A combination of the two?