In 1997, Garang applied for a visa to come to the United States as a refugee. After waiting a few years for his application to process, Garang was admitted to the United States and arrived in Iowa in April of 2000. Determined to make a stable life for him and his family, Garang found employment in the construction industry three weeks after receiving his Social Security information.
However, while Garang settled into his life in Des Moines, the political issues in South Sudan continued. In 2005, the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement signified the close of the Second Sudanese Civil War. This agreement established a timeline for a referendum on South Sudanese independence. Garang left Des Moines in 2009 to head back to South Sudan to register individuals to vote and discuss the importance of South Sudanese independence. The vote for the independence of South Sudan took place in early 2011, with nearly 99% of registered individuals voting pro-independence.
A successful campaign under his belt, Garang left the newly-established South Sudan in 2011 and returned to Des Moines. He pursued achieving higher education and obtained an Associate in General Studies degree from DMACC. Garang went on to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Emergency Disaster Management from Upper Iowa University.
After receiving this education, Garang searched for positions in the Des Moines metro that would help refugee communities. Since 2017, Garang has been working with AmeriCorps RefugeeRISE. Due to his proficiency in Arabic, English, and Dinka, Garang was an essential resource for helping to teach ESL and citizenship classes. Now, he has been working with Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center (EMBARC) to lead health clinics that inform refugees about American healthcare practices. Garang enjoys helping individuals who were previously held back by their lack of English abilities to obtain citizenship and better integrate into society.
In contemplating his life after his AmeriCorps service, Garang is considering moving back to South Sudan to help humanitarian causes in the area. Eighteen years after his arrival in the United States, Garang is still connected to South Sudan. His father, brothers, and sisters still live there. While South Sudan is improving, Garang states that the country needs people to go and work on it. Specifically, Garang hopes to inform those perpetuating the violence in his country know that “we don’t need that.”
About the Blog
The service members of RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps have compiled stories of success during their membership. This blog was created with the intent of sharing these valuable stories with the public.