“Fresno is where I come back to and everything I have planned for the future is here.”
Meet Modupe. Modupe was born in Nigeria. She has lived all over the world, including Australia, Fiji, India, San Francisco and Fresno. Out of all the places she has lived in, she considers Fresno to be her true home.
HOW DOES FRESNO COMPARE?
Modupe often moved around as a kid because of her father’s job as a professor. She recollects her very different experiences living in Australia, Fiji, Fresno, and Oakland:
Australia – Modupe moved to Australia when she was only six years old. “Australia was very strange to me,” Modupe says. She felt out of place, because she did not know the language and looked different than her classmates.
Fiji – Modupe says that her time in Fiji was one of her best experiences as a child. At the time, Fiji did not have any television she occupied her time playing everywhere like in forests behind her house. Modupe describes Fiji as being laid-back and a very safe place to live.
Fresno – After living in India for a short period of time, Modupe moved to Fresno in August of 1992. Modupe’s father applied for a job at Fresno State. He wanted to move to the United States so his children could get an American education. The move took place in August and Modupe’s first reaction of Fresno was that it was really hot, small and restrictive. “I wondered why my dad would move us from Fiji to Fresno,” Modupe says, “I just didn’t understand it.”
Modupe did not expect to live in Fresno for several years. “I tried to learn the culture, but I didn’t put my heart into it,” she says. It wasn’t until her seventh year of living in Fresno did she start liking it.
Oakland - Modupe received her master’s degree in business and decided to move to the Bay Area because of the bigger job market. Modupe says that living in the Bay Area was stressful compared to Fresno. There she worked for a corporation for a little while. She realized business wasn’t her calling when she worked as an aide for an adult school. “It’s not a question whether you can do the job, but what makes you fulfilled and happy,” Modupe says, “I wouldn’t trade my worst day as an aide for any other job.” She hopes to return to teaching in the future.
OPINIONS ON FRESNO
Modupe moved to Fresno after she married her husband so she could be closer to her family. She considers Fresno her home, because she lived here the longest and her family lives in Fresno. “Fresno is where I come back to and everything I have planned for the future is here,” Modupe says.
Modupe enjoys the little perks of Fresno like the ease of traffic and parking, compared to the Bay Area. She says Fresno also has potential and is excited to see how it will be in 20 years. “Fresno is like a kid,” she says, “it’s still growing.”
Fresno, in Modupe’s opinion, is a Fresno is a good place for immigrants to get their bearing, because of its diverse landscape. There’s a group for anyone to fit in and feel closer to home.
A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP
Modupe returned to Nigeria in 2005 to help start an orphanage. At the end of the project, she wanted to buy her family back home presents. She had her eye on hats made by people that of a different ethnicity than her. She did not know the language, so her cousin invited a friend (now Modupe’s husband) to help them out. “Nigeria was the last place I expected to meet a guy,” she says. This friend of her cousins’ showed interest in Modupe, which irritated her. She remembers the countless of times she was hit on in Nigeria because she was an American citizen. She was suspicious of her husband at first. Modupe says, however, that he was the only guy she met who assured her that he only wanted to be friends.
Modupe and her husband kept in touch as friends through emails and phone calls when she returned to Oakland. In 2008, they decided to start their romantic relationship long distance. Modupe recalls that she made the decision to start a relationship when her husband was the only person to call her on Easter. The holiday was never a big deal for her, but the call was very comforting. She decided to, what she says, change her attitude and see what would happen. In 2009, Modupe returned to Nigeria and was married by the end of her trip.
Modupe’s husband still lives in Nigeria as the government decides whether or not to allow him to live in the United States. She wants to stay in the Fresno area to obtain her Ph.D. in Philosophy and to be near her family. Modupe says that the whole process has been unwelcome and unpleasant. “It’s weird for someone to decide your fate, especially when someone you don’t know is left to determine if your marriage is legitimate and that you two love each other.” Modupe says she is very anxious to start a family and it is difficult to put her life on hold.
ADVICE TO IMMIGRANTS
Modupe has been an immigrant in several countries since she was six years old. She says she understands that wanting most immigrants have to fit in right away. She advises them to take their time. “You will never fit in 100 percent, because you don’t have that shared history of being born and growing up here.” An immigrant’s unique culture, in her opinion, is very valuable and urges them to hold on to that. Modupe has learned that it’s okay to be different.
Have a lovely day in Fresno!