College Student Flees from Haiti at the Age of Two


Hannah Coleman

Central Arizona College student travels from Haiti at the age of two and strives to pursue his education in Dentistry despite his culture shock.

Djaury Jean is a twenty-year-old male who moved to the U.S. when he was two years old, along with his parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandma. Djaury’s mother decided it was time to move because her son was becoming a product of Haitian Voodoo. Haitian Voodoo are spirtual practices/sacrifices that some people in Haiti participate in. When Djaury’s mother was pregnant, a random woman often came to touch her stomach and say weird things to Djaury. The mother claims that the woman was obsessed with her baby and trying to harm him.

When Djuary was born, the same woman tried to take him away from his mother and perform her Voodoo practices on him. One day, when Djuary was still an infant, he got extremely sick. His mother thought it was the woman’s doing, so she didn’t take any chances. She picked up their stuff and fled the country.

Djaury’s mother was fleeing the Voodoo, but she also wanted a better life and better opportunities for her children. She wanted Djaury and his siblings to get a good education and have a shot at a great career. His family originally moved to New York City, but it wasn’t long until they moved again to escape gangs and bad influences that kept getting Djaury into trouble. She chose a small town in Arizona, and Djaury and his family moved to San Tan Valley when he was a freshman in high school.

In an interview, Djaury explained, “When I first moved to San Tan, I didn’t like it. It’s so different from New York, and I hated it because it’s a country town and everything is so far away and there’s nothing to do.” Djaury didn’t like San Tan at first, but now he likes the fact that he’s not in New York getting into trouble; instead, he’s in San Tan getting an education in Dentistry.

Djaury said he had experienced culture shock which made adjusting difficult. “Being from an extremely poor country and then migrating to a huge city, living there for eleven years and then moving again to a small town was a huge change and gave me major culture shock, and it definitely took some getting used to.”

In Djaury’s household, the main spoken language is Creole. When Djaury and his family first moved to the U.S., they didn’t know any English, so whenever Djaury would go to school and learn new English words, he would teach his family members and they all would learn how to speak English together. He and his whole family now speak English like it’s their native tongue.

Not only is Creole part of their household rituals, but so is the Haitian culture. His mother strives every day to keep their culture alive by cooking Haitian meals, playing Haitian music, and going to their local Haitian church. On holidays such as New Year’s, they’ll each eat an orange, and the number of seeds in the orange will determine their luck for the year. January 1st is Haitian Independence Day, and they celebrate it by making soup for the whole family.

When asked about his struggles since the move, Djaury stated, “It’s kind of hard staying connected to my Haitian culture, and I can’t find any good pizza!” The pizza part refers to his life in New York.

Djaury has what one could consider a complicated relationship with his mother.  She was born and raised in Haiti, so she has what he calls “a full Haitian mindset.”  She believes that “school is everything,” so when Djaury got his first girlfriend in October, they started to butt heads. Djuary states, “Now my mom is used to the fact that I have a girlfriend and she accepts it. We still get into arguments here and there, but it’s a learning process for the both of us. She just had to realize I’m an adult now and having a significant other is normal, and life is not all about school, school, school.”

When reflecting on his life, Djaury realized he likes his Arizona home. His goal for this year is to pass all of his classes, graduate from CAC with an AA degree, and transfer to dental school at Carrington College.