Ngor’s family was staying with us because their apartment got flooded from a sprinkler. They are from Sudan and one of the best parts of having them for guests for awhile was hearing their stories of immigration. A friend of theirs came over and was telling stories from when she first came from Sudan and was living in Virginia.
She has 9 children…2 sets of twins. Personally, I don’t know how she does it. Anyways, when she moved to the U.S. and was pregnant with one of her children her husband went off on a trip and she was left to herself, not speaking any English and not being able to drive. She had seen her husband drive and thought it didn’t look too hard so she thought she’d give it a whirl. She took her car out and decided maybe she should wait for her husband so she parked her car in the middle of the highway. A black man stopped to help her. When she was in the refugee camp they told her that any African Americans in the U.S. will shoot her. Keep in mind that Sudanese people have the darkest skin I have ever seen. So she was terrified and ran out of the car and back home, locked the door, shut the curtains, and hid. He followed her home and knocked on her door saying that he knew she was in there (since he had followed her). When he figured out that she wasn’t going to answer the door he said he had locked the car for her and was putting her key through her mail drop.
She also told us a story about her first Halloween where she couldn’t understand (and was very scared) because there were a bunch of people dressed up as ghosts and such that kept ringing her doorbell. The last gem she shared with us was about toys that made noise that also scared her, because she had never come across that before.
When I was in the car with Ngor’s mom she was asking me if our dogs were nice because dogs in Sudan would run wild and bite people. If you got bitten by a dog you had to get 25 shots in your stomach so she was very afraid of dogs and she had passed this fear onto her children. I get this. I totally get this. When I was about 6 (give or take a year or 2) my mom was farm sitting and I had gotten up to go play on the haystacks and a sheep kept bucking me down. I am terrified of sheep to this day and I won’t be around one if I have anything to say about it.
In Sudan she had heard that Americans are crazy about their pets. Which for many, is true. She had the idea that all people who owned dogs paid hundreds of dollars every month to insure their pets. I said we didn’t. Anyways, rightly so, she was very afraid for her kids interacting with our dogs. By the time they left all the kids had bonded with the dogs. Ngor (the oldest) went so far as to also feel really comfortable with my mom’s dog who is as big as my lab, but black. For some reason, big black dogs are very scary looking.