KX News is Honoring Black History by sharing stories of those who are building businesses, paying it forward and advocating personal advancement.
Today, we have the story of a woman from central Africa, who now calls Bismarck home and is giving kids a sense of belonging through dance.
It was 11 years ago that Geraldine Ambe left her home of Cameroon for a new opportunity here in the United States.
Her first stop was Maryland, but after spending five years there she wanted a change of scenery.
“Moving to America and moving to a place like North Dakota that gave me that opportunity, I’ve actually– the opportunity just be here has moved my family from that poverty level,” explained Ambe.
Over the last six years in North Dakota, Ambe has accomplished things that she never thought she would, including graduating from United Tribes Technical College with an associate’s degree in Information Technology.
“As a high school drop out back then, to find myself here and make use of the resources that are here, it’s just something that’s mind-blowing. I look at my story and I’m shocked myself,” explained Ambe.
But her biggest accomplishment yet is starting Youth in Action, a dance group that grew out of a Bible study class.
“For me, I interoperated, like they had so much to give. But just sit and study the Bible. So I was thinking, one day I remember sitting in my bedroom, I was like kids…dancing…music…That’s what brings people together,” explained Ambe.
And while it’s based around dancing, the kids in the group say it does more for them — it gives them a sense of belonging.
“In school, I’m mostly the only Black kid in my class and stuff like that. But when I come to Youth in Action, I feel safe and I feel like I can like, you know, express myself in different ways that I can’t in school,” shared Melvin Momo, a dancer with the group.
“You’re not used to the accent. You don’t have the correct English to speak. And I came to the church and I met the people that love me. Friends,” shared Deneis Kaike, a dancer with the group.
Now 40 dancers strong, each dancer brings their own culture as they are all from different countries across the continent.
“We’re from different parts of Africa. So meet different cultures and we do different diverse dance and we also get to learn more about each other,” shared Telma Neba, a dancer with the group.
“It’s sort of a connectivity. There’s like something that drives us all together. There’s something that makes us all similar in some type of way because we all come from the same continent. You know, we’re all African,” explained Emmanuel Dolo, a dancer with the group.
Ambe says it’s bigger than them it’s about sharing their culture and being part of the community they now call home.
“I didn’t think of a better way to present our diversity than coming in with what we do. We do back home. Bringing that to our new home, which is Bismarck,” explained Ambe.
As Youth in Action continues to grow and perform all over the Capital City, Ambe says she makes every outfit and drives them to and from their performances.