Donella Samson’s Story

Diversity, Facing Diversity: Marshallese Stories from Inclusive Dubuque (Dubuque, Iowa)

As told by Mary Jean Ferry

My name is Danella Samson. I am a single mother. I have an 18-year-old son named Riten Jose Samson. He is in Hempstead High School here in Dubuque. I came from a family of 7 and one step sister who is working here at Mt. Carmel too. I have four brothers, two sisters and one step sister. My dad has gone to God. My mom is still living and staying with my older brother, Stan, and his family.

When I left the Marshall Islands, I traveled with other students. First, we went to Maui and then, after two years, I left for Oklahoma. On the day that I left Maui, I was frightened in the airports. It was hard to read the signs and I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I just kept asking people for help. A man, who was cleaning helped me find my way. If it wasn’t for this man, I don’t know where I would be today.

While I was in Enid, Oklahoma, I was working in a meat packing company for five years. Then, I came to Dubuque with my brother, his family and other church members to share the Word of God with Marshallese people. I am proud of my brother for his hard work in reaching out to many Marshallese who were lost and now have found the truth through God’s word. God is good.

When I came to Dubuque, I worked in a hotel doing housekeeping for two years. Then, I applied at Mt. Carmel. They accepted me and taught me how to help the Sisters. I do love what I am doing now. I love the Sisters. I love working at Mt. Carmel. I have 13 years working here. I know everybody around. I love the Sisters. I love everybody.

About five or six years ago, my parents came to visit. Three weeks after their visit, my dad passed. He was a judge and a very good man. I miss him a lot. I wish he could be here with me, my son and my mom.

Both my mother and my son are doing well and are happy to be here. My mom loves it here but she hates the weather. She doesn’t like the cold weather. I have gotten used to it. I am not afraid to drive in the snow and I love it. I have a car and a truck. I drive my car mostly. Sometimes, I drive my truck to work.

On Christmas Day, the Marshallese will be together all day long to celebrate the birth of Jesus. My brother will lead the service. Then, we will eat, dance and have a good time. You are invited to come.

I love being Marshallese. I am proud to be Marshallese and proud of my Marshallese family.  We are together a lot. We know everyone. We love to pray.

This story originally appeared in Facing Diversity: Marshallese Stories, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by the Inclusive Dubuque Network in Dubuque, Iowa.

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