Vienna's Open Road

  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    Why Not Us

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    Washington, DC

  • AIRED ON:

    Public Television: Why Not Us

VIENNA MBAGAYA

Founder
Invisible Neighbors

“When you're struggling you feel isolated, because we're ashamed to share when we're struggling. But you're not the only one. We're all connected in this. I like the struggle because I think where I'm going is bigger than me and it forces me to get over myself.”

INTERESTS:

Non-Profit Organizations Writing

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Confidence Doubt Self-Reflection Struggle Transitions Culture Negativity Acceptance Community Education Experience Pride Fear Simplicity Values Failure Fulfillment Goals Choices Family Individualism Dedication Hard Work Honesty Courage

FOUNDATION:

Communicating / Sharing Stories

TAGS:

belonging, community college, comparing yourself, culture shock, embarrassement, experience, high school, immigrant, immigration, invisible-neighbors, isolated, isolation, loneliness, negativity, no self esteem, purpose, school, self esteem, struggle, television

BIOGRAPHY:

  • Came to the US from Kenya in high school; says the change was "more than a culture shock; it was a smack in the face."
  • Unfamiliar with US vernacular and cultural norms, she was placed in special ed despite protests and fell into isolation.
  • Feeling alienated eroded her self-esteem; so much so that she avoided mirrors in fear of facing how different she was.
  • Decided to share her immigrant story in a blog post and received an outpouring of support from people all over the world.
  • Realized she had tapped into a common human experience everyone could relate to: feeling alone.
  • Recognizing the power of community to tackle isolation, she founded Invisible Neighbors, an organization that gives voice to immigrants.
  • Today, as a consultant and entrepreneur, she's on a mission foster global inclusion and empower those who feel invisible.

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