Humans of Appleton North: Mary


Nora Ptacek, Junior co-editor-in-chief

Mary was born in the Congo and lived there until her family faced something unimaginable. Mary’s father was killed by “security.” These strangers didn’t like her dad and murdered him. “They killed my oldest brother too,” she said. These same people wanted to kill her along with the rest of her family so they escaped to Uganda which was only minimally safer. She was still constantly in fear for her life.
In Uganda class sizes were 80 students large, producing a near impossible learning environment. For this reason, Mary stopped attending school. “Everything changed, like when you move from one place to another. How to start a new life in another country? Life changes” she said.
After they had lived in Uganda for a while, people from the government saw their life in Uganda was in danger and offered them the opportunity to move to the United States. When asked how she felt about suddenly moving to the states, Mary said she was nervous. However, “I knew that I would be with friends because they came one year before.”
“When I came here, first day [at Roosevelt Middle School] I was crying all day because when people talked I didn’t know how to say hi.” The only two words she knew were “food and friends because they are important to me.” Seeing that she was crying when she went home that day her mother told her to be brave. A few days later Mary came home happy and her mom asked why she was happy that day. “I got a lot of friends,” she replied. Before school ended Mary told a teacher, “I don’t want to stay home, I don’t know English. Can I go to school?” That’s how Mary became involved in the summer school program. Even though her English is impressive now, Mary admits that when people talk quickly she has a hard time following. Once she learned English and first made a friend, Mary knew it would be okay.