Name: Severin Safari Nyamuroha
Current U.S. Position and Company Name: English Learning Support Specialist, Taft Elementary in Boise, ID
Country of Origin: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Education – National Pedagogic University, D.R.Congo and Master’s degree in social work – Newman Institute of Kigoma, Tazania
First Job in U.S.: Retail store clerk at TJ Maxx
Story Author: Self-written by Severin Nyamuroha
Born in the Central-Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo during the decline of the colonial period, I am the product of two particularly different worlds which makes me incarnate of both the pre- and post-independence visions of education in my country of origin.
I was first educated according to the Belgian colonial education system. But soon after the 6th grade, the new Congolese government introduced a program created by a group of educational experts and adapted it to the Congolese realities. My experience studying under two conflicting education systems shaped, in part, my desire to teach. I thought about the values of each system and reconciled the differences between them. I knew I wanted to be a part of accompanying the young generation on their way to a better future and an easier life full of hope and success.
I graduated from the National Pedagogic Institute (re-named National Pedagogic University) in 1987 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Immediately, I plunged into my teaching career where I successively worked as an elementary, high school and university educator for 26 years before coming to the USA in 2013. I had to leave my country to protect my family from the atrocities of a raging civil war in Congo.
I started my new life in America in Boise, Idaho, thanks to the Agency for New Americans (ANA). While my passion is and was helping young people reach their potential, dream big, think critically, and develop intellectually, I didn’t teach when I first arrived in Idaho. The licensing process, for someone like me with international degrees, takes time, money and the cooperation of universities in Africa, none of which I had. I also didn’t know the options to work in the field of teaching without an Idaho teaching certification. So, initially I poured my time and effort into securing enough work to put a roof over our heads and food on the table for my family. My family is made of seven people here in America, and five others in Africa, all depending upon me alone.
At times I worked up to four jobs, all while longing to teach again, but feeling like that was out of my reach in America. At one point I worked around the clock as an interpreter (English, Swahili, French, Lingala, Kikongo and Shi), a summer camp instructor, stocker at Walmart, and backroom associate at TJ Maxx. I felt fortunate, but not satisfied. I had so much more to give to my new community and its young people.
Then, in July 2014 I got a break. I learned about a new project called Global Talent Idaho (GTI). The team at GTI welcomed me with open arms, unmatched willingness to help, patience with my questions, a healthy dose of hope, and 100% confidence in my skills, abilities and future in teaching. GTI helped me learn how to develop a professional resume, effectively apply for jobs, market myself, and navigate the process to get my university degrees from Africa evaluated and validated. Above all, they succeeded in connecting me with other teachers and school administrators and advocated for me to hiring managers. I was even matched with my own personal, industry-specific mentor who was also a teacher! My mentor, Stephanie Youngerman, was not just any mentor either, she was a special and courageous one and I will never forget her. Stephanie and I worked hand in hand all over Boise, looking for open teaching-related positions, filling in applications, writing cover letters, and preparing for job interviews.
Additionally, through GTI and the Idaho Department of Labor (IDOL), I gained my first U.S. teaching experience through a paid internship at the College of Western Idaho (CWI) doing what my mind and heart so deeply longed for – officially helping others to learn. I taught beginning English to adult learners. That was a stepping stone to the door of where I would eventually realize my dream of being back in a classroom with the youthful, hungry and energetic minds of children.
One year after joining the GTI program, in July 2015, through hope, cooperation and persistence, I was offered a full time job from the Boise School District at Taft Elementary as a Title One Tutor. Eventually I was promoted to English Learning Support Specialist. It has now been over 2 years that I have been with Taft Elementary. I am cherishing every opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of the children at Taft and helping the team grow in their cultural awareness.
My next goal is to continue my persistence to get my universities in Africa (D.R. Congo and Tanzania) to cooperate in the U.S. credential and validation process, so I can one day upgrade my level of teaching responsibility to a certified Idaho teacher.