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A “lottery ticket” to a new life

Junior Joseph Demissie’s second chance in America

Ezgi Karakoc, Cub Reporter
Originally published January 8, 2015

Family, friends and soccer. These are the three main drives in junior Joseph Demissie’s life. Originally from Ethiopia, Demissie knows how tough life in a third world country can be and now embraces his freedom in the United States.

Two years ago his family applied for a diversity visa. According to the Bureau of Consular Affairs “Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as ‘diversity immigrants,’ from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.”

Only 7 percent of applicants receive a diversity visa.

“We didn’t expect that to happen. It’s very big. Everyone in my family does that but we’re the first ones [to get picked],” Demissie said.”

Demissie is hopeless about the circumstances in his home country. “It’s like a dictatorship. The government is there for 20 years. I don’t think it will ever change. If you tried to change it you would probably get killed,” he said.

Although Ethiopia was a dark part of his life, Demissie continues to practice Ethiopian traditions in Seattle. “Every week we have ceremonies. We call friends over to our house and we make food,” Demissie said. This is repeated each week at a different family’s home.

While attending school in Ethiopia, going home and doing nothing formed his everyday life. He had no free time and no freedom. “My parents had to go somewhere to work and I had to watch my little sister,” Demissie said.

The rough circumstances brought Demissie and his sister, Gloria Demissie, closer. “Me and my brother are really close. Every time we have problems we talk it out with each other,” freshman Gloria Demissie said.

Whilst boarding the plane to the U.S., Demissie felt overwhelmed. “I was thinking about what I could do in the future and seeing the changes I could do. I have the chance to do something with my life,” Demissie said.

In his new life as a Seattleite, Demissie focuses on academics, socializes and of course, plays soccer frequently.

He started to play soccer as a three-year-old and grew up with it, accompanied by his idol Ronaldinho, who is a world famous professional player. “From the beginning he loved soccer more than anything,” Gloria Demissie said.

“The most important thing is trying the best I can and make the people that watch me happy,” Joseph Demissie said. Regardless of his talent and passion, his family shows very little support for Demissie’s path with soccer as they hoped he would pursue a career as a runner.

Yet Demissie keeps the ball. “I know I can make it if I try hard enough.”

For now Demissie plays for the school’s soccer team and hopes to be on the varsity team this upcoming season.

“He has a radiant smile and always projects a friendly attitude to all. I think everyone that knows Joseph is inspired by his kindness, and his positive attitude,” bilingual teacher Ruth Kutrakun said.

Demissie left behind a rough past but he keeps his goals in vision. In 10 years he sees himself in Europe living his dream of playing soccer professionally. “I feel free,” Demissie said.

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A “lottery ticket” to a new life