A Proud Immigrant

A Proud Immigrant

Look at her smile. It shines brighter than the sun, but her heart shines even brighter. Miela Fetaw is what the world has been missing. She's only in her early twenties and it seems as if she's done it all already. Where hasn't she been and what hasn't she done?

Miela's way of words has taken her all over the world: from Japan to New York to anywhere she wants to go. 

She was born in Italy to immigrants from Eritrea which is a small country in East Africa just north of Ethiopia. Miela is a proud immigrant and she's even prouder of her parents for taking the risk to bring six-year old Miela and her sisters to America. 

"Them bringing me here is like the wildest thing they've ever done."

Moving to America is the dream, well that's what people say, but people often forget the sacrifices foreigners make when they come to the melting pot. Within a few months, Miela lost her two native tongues because English was pushed so hard on her, but since then, she's gained those languages back. It was just a few years ago when Miela realized how assimilated she became and how her upbringing became foreign to her.

"You have to blend in and that's so whack. The concept that I have to lose my native tongue to be successful [in America] is whack, [so] I bring my identities to the table. I'm reclaiming my life."

She's taken her culture back and she's putting it at the forefront. Journalism has allowed Miela to not only tell her truth, but the truths of others. She's recently received a generous research grant to spend a month in Europe writing about refugees.

Being a black immigrant woman has given Miela a different perspective on life, which is why she chose journalism.

Miela Fetaw with her two younger sisters and her parents. (Picture by Symone Russell)

"There wasn't any coverage on the communities I identify as," so she stepped in and is changing the way journalism is done and seen.

After graduating from high school in 2013, Miela spent five months exploring Eritrea and although she already knew this, it made her realize even more how blessed she's been. She has family in her parent's hometown that aren't doing nearly as well as her family, which makes her fight even harder to make her parents proud and to be someone they can be proud of.

"I am nothing without them. I'm their biggest fan and their my ultimate superheroes" she said. "I do it for myself, but I do it in hopes I can feel I'm enough for them."

Before coming to Milwaukee, Miela and her family lived in Atlanta's suburbs, but due to life situations they moved to the 414.

"I'm so grateful Milwaukee adopted me because I don't think I would be the person I am today." 

She says society tends to knock down Milwaukee a lot and that needs to change.

"Next to the country I'm from, there's no place I love more than Milwaukee, WI."

According to her, Milwaukee Public Schools and the things she's experienced in the city, has she shaped her into the strong, beautiful, intelligent woman she is today. But, she does understand she has a privilege that some of her black-counterparts don't have: being light skin and being an immigrant. 

Miela Fetaw accepting her degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. (Picture by Elora Hennessey)

Light skin black people, specifically women, are treated at a higher standard than darker ones, and her being an immigrant it was already instilled in her that she has to be a hard worker. What's different about Miela is that she acknowledges her privilege and uses that to provide a platform for those with less privileges than her. 

Miela has recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a double-major in journalism and global studies in December of 2017. 

She's came a very long way and she has so much more to go. She started first grade exactly two days after entering the USA because it was instilled in her how important an education is. With her education, she found journalism and through her journalism she's does everything society believes an immigrant can't do.

Reading and writing have always been a part of her life, so in a way she knew being a journalist was for her. To her, journalism makes the most sense because while she loves creative writing as a passion, creative writing doesn't give her what journalism does. With journalism, her words are spreading the truth, which in turn makes a big difference in many lives around the world. 

But let's not forget, Miela is not just a journalist, she's an activist for refugees. She actually wants to be a war journalist because she feels that's where she can make the biggest difference. Honestly, no matter where she ends up, Miela is coming for the top.

Throughout everything she's went through, done and experienced, Miela will continue to keep going no matter what she faces.

"If there is a system, group of people or individual who is in your way then there's a half-cracked window somewhere."

Miela Fetaw can usually be seen with a smile on her face. (Picture by Elora Hennessey)

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