Like many people, Ivania Inyange’s wish was to live abroad, particularly, the United States of America. Watching the fancy life portrayed in Hollywood movies, she too wanted the lifestyle, and the immense opportunities such as jobs, better education, technology, innovations that she naively envisioned would be attained on a silver platter. She believed that she would be successful in just months, because that’s what some movies portray—the better side of life. When she graduated from the National University of Rwanda with a Bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology, her dream came true— she attained a Diversity Visa to immigrate to the US. However, the reality was that life was way harder than she thought it would be, and no opportunities were waiting for her, she had to sail through many storms. No one warned her of how tough it would be to get a job, with no experience—it didn’t help that she could barely speak English. These struggles and experiences in a foreign land impelled her to write a book titled ‘Far Away from my Roots’. “The book shares my journey in adapting to a new lifestyle and the challenges of shouldering ambitions in a new country. The stories reveal my difficulty in approaching a new culture and my face-to-face experience in love, loneliness, racism, among others,” she says. Inyange says that challenges were the order of the day, such as the overwhelming Los Angeles traffic that she had to navigate through, and also the angry road users with rude gestures to show contempt. Moving to the US Inyange says that when she left Rwanda, where she was born and raised, in 2012, she headed to Akron, Ohio and stayed with a family friend who hosted her, she later moved to Columbus, a city in the same state. The author currently resides in Los Angeles. Photo/Net She then relocated to Loma Linda, a city in San Bernardino County, California, to pursue graduate school. Then after one year, she moved to Los Angeles. “Staying here for some time, I realised that diversity in nationality, civilisation, sexuality, and quality of life helped me to appreciate the concept of cultural sensitivity— being aware that cultural differences and similarities between people exist without assigning them a value,” she says. In her book, Inyange notes that she shares reality, she wants her readers to learn from real-life experiences. She yearns to represent the reality of the integration of immigrants in the US. For her, America could be a land of diverse opportunities, but it won’t come easy. Which is why she wants to give insight so that people do not raise their hopes too high. She also talks about the need for Americans to be more enthusiastic and learn about other cultures, and also embrace cultural differences and appreciate cultural diversity. Challenges While writing the book, Inyange notes that her main challenge was language. This is because it hindered her creativity in terms of word writing. She longed to write a book from her point of view and express herself fully about everything she learned. She says she had to ask friends about how to express what was on her mind perfectly in English, which they helped her with. “Another challenge was to choose which story to share because every day came with its experience. I wanted to share everything, but I had to select a few stories that portrayed a specific message,” she says. Strategy Inyange says that the language barrier caused her to depend on others for interpretation, a thing that made her stay in the US hard. She eventually realised that she would never achieve what she wanted without learning English. “I was very persistent in learning every day because I wanted to be able to communicate. This helped me a lot because, within a year and a half, I was able to apply for graduate school.” The process of integration into American society is not easy, she says, not only for Rwandans, but all immigrants. This is because America has a culture and lifestyle far different from the rest of the world. “For example, making friends was difficult, but I committed to being true to myself. I don’t have to smoke weed because my friends are doing it,” the writer says. More books Inyange explains that writing the book took about four years, from the first word she jotted in her notebook, completion of the manuscript, to editing and finding a publisher. She says that this may be her first book but not her last. According to her, ‘Far Away from my Roots’ has unlocked her creativity, and she realises that there are many things to share or write about. Right now, she is working on her second book, which she is co-authoring with a friend. The book is about a global cause and public health matter that they are both passionate about. They expect to release the book by October. At the same time, she is writing her third book, which is an extended version of ‘I give you What I Have’, a poetic letter she wrote for ‘Mama Africa’. “To earn a living, I do various jobs, but today, I have a Master’s of Public Health degree from Southern New Hampshire University, with a concentration in Global Health,” she says, and hopes to impact health outcomes through her writing. Getting to where she is now didn’t come easy, she says, a positive mind-set, knowing what she wanted, and strategising how to achieve it was her daily prayer. The author points out that embracing the failures helped her to move forward; she remembers getting so excited after acquiring her first job; but since she wasn’t able to keep up the 12 hour-shift, she quit as she expected to be fired, but that failure didn’t hold her back. She says that she tried many jobs until she found one where she was comfortable. For her, focus, persistence, and discipline were and still are the wheels pushing her forward. Copies of her book are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major online bookstores and will soon be in stores.