I felt highly honored to speak at the Annual Conference on Financial Education, which was held in New Orleans from April 9th to 11th 2014. Big kudos to the Institute of Financial Literacy for including the “one size does not fit all” session to discuss peculiar issues affecting women and immigrants. Other speakers and members of the audience included directors of student services, military and private financial counselors, credit union and commercial bankers, non-profit organizations and TV/Print media personalities.
During my presentation, I shared my personal struggle with paying high college tuition and fees for my graduate degree when I arrived in the US, as well as my introduction to the strange world of student loans. I also spoke about the tough choices I had to make to pay off the modest student loan balance I had, and most importantly how I adjusted, and continue to adjust my “American Dream” based on my financial reality. I used my stories to showcase the realities of many African immigrants, especially international students, with the hope that the financial educators present would be more sensitive and aware of important issues to note when working with the increasing number of African immigrants in the US.
With Sub-Saharan Africans making up almost 31,000 of the foreign students schooling in the US, and more immigrants joining the US Army, I hope to have more of these discussions across the country, not only with financial educators, but most importantly with fellow immigrants, not because I am a CPA/financial coach, but because I share their struggles and their stories, so we can relate with one another. The first 3 years of migrating to any country, especially the US are very critical in determining financial success. I took a recent survey of African immigrants, and so many respondents wished they had more information about how credit cards, student loans and car notes really worked when they arrived in the US, because these are alien concepts to many adult immigrants from most African countries.
I truly hope we continue this conversation so we can help immigrants; particularly African immigrants achieve greater financial success in their new home. Are you ready to have these important conversations and coaching sessions for the African immigrants and women in your community? Email firstname.lastname@example.org today. I look forward to hearing from you!