Martin was born and raised in Cameroon, Africa. After high-school graduation he was accepted to study architecture abroad in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. He came to the United States in 2010 as a participant of a work and travel program. Some of his first jobs as a J1 was in stop and shop, slice of life. Luckily he met the late architect Jamie Weisman who immediately recognized his talent and passion for architecture and offered him a full time job in 2012 at his architectural firm. In the process Martin fell in love with Martha’s Vineyard and the inspiration this special place provides.
I first met Martin on a bus as my friend and I were traveling to Hyannis. He overheard us speaking in Russian and mentioned that he also spoke, and that he lived on Martha’s Vineyard as well. What a coincidence! The Russian speaking community on the island is quite small and this coincidence illustrates why I am a big believer in buses and trains. They are great places to meet a stranger and get into an unexpected and intriguing conversation. His positive energy and inner light beam joy to those around him.
How was your cultural adaptation process? At first it was a little bit shocking, and it took me at least a year to adapt.
What kind of connections have you made since you came to the US? Everyone is very welcoming. It wasn’t hard to build connections with people here on the Vineyard and especially with my co-workers. I have created good relationships with local architects, engineers, builders, chefs, cab drivers and many other islanders.
Have you found a community here on the Island? Martha’s Vineyard is well known for it’s united community and it’s a unique place because people here are very kind. I find it easy to be part of it all especially when your job serves the community. Also I have met many people from Eastern Europe, and especially the russian speakers with whom I enjoy spending my free time. Those are easy connections for me since I already spent eight years in Russia. I recently became part of a small group of people with whom I enjoy swimming at the Mansion House. I taught Martial Arts/Karate in Vineyard Haven for a short period as well. One of my closest american friends welcomes me as their son, brother and friend.
How do you find socializing with Americans? I find socializing with americans easy and enjoyable. Islanders especially seem very friendly and open minded. Although here on the island we have people from all over the world which gives me an opportunity to socialize not only with americans.
What about language barriers? Language barriers are not for me. I fluently speak Ngueba, English, Russian, French, Pirgin.
What are the differences in lifestyle between Cameroon and the US? There are many. Culture makes it all different.
What kind of advice would you give to a new immigrant? My advice to any immigrants would to be patient and open minded.
How would your life be if you were back in Cameroon? My life would be awesome.
What do you miss most about home? I miss my family, and childhood friends.
What is your definition of home? Home is home. Nothing can replace it. Home is where you feel safe, free and with less stress.