Finding his place: Hall director still assimilating to life in U.S. after 13 years

Originally from Nigeria, Steven Amusan, Zacharias Hall director, and his family made their way to Minnesota when he was 11. Since becoming a hall director a year ago, Amusan said he most enjoys when students come back and tell him that he made a difference in their lives. “I try to take the time and invest in them,” Amusan said. 

Kayla Boyd

Steven Amusan was 11 years old when he looked out the window of his apartment in Minnesota and saw powder falling from the sky.

Excited and curious, he stepped outside to explore the new phenomenon.

Amusan reached out both arms and waited. He collected several flurries on his hands and licked them off his fingers.

After 10 minutes, he went back inside. The falling powder was cold and he wasn’t wearing boots or a jacket.

For a boy born and raised in Nigeria, Minnesota winters were unfamiliar and bizarre.

Not only was the weather vastly different, American culture was also peculiar.

In Nigeria, Amusan played with a clothes hanger and an ice cream lid. For hours every day, he pushed the rolling lid down dirt roads with a straightened out wire hanger.

He gathered water from a natural well and carried the bucket on his head back to his house, trying his hardest not to trip. He and his cousins climbed the guava tree in their grandfather’s backyard.

In Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, he babysat his three younger siblings. He was shunned for looking, dressing and speaking differently from his classmates. In sixth grade, he learned how a common phrase means different things in various countries.

Amusan wrote “I love Kim” on a piece of paper. In Nigeria, saying that you love someone shows your support for that person. This seemed appropriate to Amusan because Kim was running for class president and Steven wanted to show support for his friend. Steven quickly learned the phrase has a different connotation in America.

He promised his classmates he wasn’t gay, but Kim wasn’t interested in being friends after that.

Twelve years later, Amusan is still assimilating into American culture, something he thinks he’ll never fully grasp.