Photo: Leila Roumani

Mohammad "Joh" C.


42, West African Dance and Drum Teacher
Boston, Massachusetts

I came here from Mali with my dance and drum group as a culture exchange, but it was not easy. My uncle brought us here, and we went through a lot of stuff because for artists to come here, it is not that easy. After that, I found that this is the perfect place to develop my talent but also to share my knowledge with people in America. My favorite memories in the US is when people come together from different backgrounds, different ethnicities, sharing their culture, learning from each other, socializing, and just be there for each other. That’s the best part of the US because it really reminds me of my own country. Also, I’d like to talk about the language barrier. Since English is the only language spoken here, that gives us some difficulty because there are so many things we would like to share, but some of those words cannot be translated into English, so that is very difficult. I wish there could be other languages in the US beside English.

Why did your family come to the United States? I picked the United States because that is the country of opportunity but also, the diversity here helps to share yours and to learn from others as well.

What would the U.S. be missing out on if you or your people were banned? The US would be missing a lot because there are so many things that I share through my family that you would not be able to learn that from school – because those things are not in writing or they are not taught by other people. You have to come from a special family to teach some of those history.