Senior profile: Amivi Gamon

College: Undecided

Major: International affairs or OB GYN doctor

At 8 years old, Amivi Gamon was quiet, misunderstood and confused about the new world she was in. She and her parents had moved months earlier from Togo, Africa to St. Louis, leaving loved ones in order to pursue a better education.

Amivi hardly knew English, and in effort to fit into her new school better, she tried to making friends with African-American students only to be told she was an “oreo,” black on the outside and white on the inside.

“The hardest thing to adapt to in coming here was English. All I knew how to say was yes, no and hello, but since I was so young, I picked English up quickly,” Amivi said. “The cultural differences here were hard to adjust to. In Africa you bow before your teachers, [take] off your shoes in entering a room and respect elders.”

Moving to St. Louis, Amivi and her parents had to leave all of their family in Togo, including her two older siblings. Though they continue to talk through Facebook and Skype, Amivi said the separation is tough.

“I think it would be harder being separated from my brother and sister if I were older, but since we moved when I was young we’re kind of distant despite the fact that we still talk, and I don’t know too much about them,” Amivi said. “Seeing them on Skype and not physically being there can be really hard.”

Amivi said as she becomes more westernized, it can be hard to hold on to her roots. Rachel Hickman, senior, has known Amivi since second grade, months after Amivi moved. Rachel said Amivi is like any other teenager, but some parts of her life are different than a typical teenager.

“Her family morals are different than what you’d see in a typical American family.” Rachel said. “She puts more emphasis on respect for adults than most kids,” said Rachel, “She works hard in school and works at her job 40 hours a week.”

Amivi hopes to travel the world as she has an interest in other cultures and learning other languages since she is multilingual and has connections to her heritage in Togo. She hopes to go to Webster University and is focused on becoming an OB GYN or going into international affairs. Amivi and her parents plan on visiting family in Togo this summer.