7 Laws of Success for Refugees & Immigrants

Annie Irankunda, President Reunion 257

Annie Irankunda, President Reunion 257

Refugees and immigrants in America must approach the road to success differently from most of their peers. I have carefully studied my American peers and the results are simple. I know for a fact that, a refugee or an immigrant living in America right now might endure greater obstacles to overcome than the majority in this country.

I do not write to convince the world that most refugees and immigrants in America have it bad and don’t even complain because most would say they had it worse. I write to tell refugees and immigrants in the whole world that we were not always powerless, lowly, defeated and small.

I write in hopes of creating a significant difference in someone’s life because of my actions. I have gone from making myself a victim of everything that took place in my life to convincing myself that I am a fighter and will continue to be until death do us part.

I recite the St. Francis of Assisi prayer in what I do, and in what I have failed to do. I ask God to “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can. And wisdom to know the difference.”

These seven laws of success have been put together from studying the refugees and immigrants in America who are excelling despite the struggles they face. Without further ado, here are the seven laws of success for refugees and immigrants.

1. Do not make every problem your problem
“Free things decrease one’s intelligence.” –Burundian Proverb

You do not have to solve every problem your distant cousin faces somewhere in Burundi. We all have family members who might not be doing well in life. They come to us asking for help. Though it’s good to help others, we have to learn ways to teach our brothers and sisters how to fish, not give them a fish every time they ask for it.The eastern philosophy says it best, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” I go further to say if you teach a man how to make a fish pond, his family will never know struggle. It’s called generational wealth and I have plenty of friends who are born with it, so I don’t associate. You can do bigger things when you are in a bigger place. As of now, you do not have to solve every single problem out there.

2. Be time sensitive
“Life is not about how many breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away.”

Time is life! This might be one of the reasons they say time is money. It might not be in your world. But you are living in a country where the wealthy ones measure their time in seconds! The most successful people in America measure their time in minutes. The average person measures their time in how many hours they spend doing something. The poor ones carry watches and phones but do not know what time it is. Be on time and do not be late. Whether it is going to church, going to work or going to a meeting. Being on time saves you time. In fact, no person ever regrets practicing a virtue.

3. Make success urgent
“Life is too short and unpredictable. Eat the dessert first!” –Ernestine Ulmer

Create a sense of urgency of why you should be successful. Success is another term of happiness. You deserve to be happy. No one wakes up in the morning and says they want to be miserable. Every single person wants to be happy in life. Why not you? Let your past motivate you to succeed.

With your third world perspective, you should not cry for not getting a yo-yo for Christmas! If you do, then take a seat and chill. But the rest of us know very well that we must work triple hard to make it here. And not only should we shoot for excellence, it is urgent.

“I was once angry at God because I did not have shoes but then I met a person with no feet.” – Chinese Proverb

Refugees and immigrants have seen a man with no feet. Do not forget where you come from. The immature language of mistreating our very own or disowning our beloved brothers and sisters should not be practiced. Words that bring you down such as “I can’t succeed” should not exist in your dictionary. Verbs such as “quit” should not be in your vocabulary. You have got to give everything you got to go from ordinary to extraordinary.

4. Create a learning curve
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” —Luke 12:48

To whom much is given, much is demanded. You and I have been given a lifetime opportunity than our fellow brothers and sisters back home. I say this because you and I have a stronger connection to the existence of poverty in the world than anyone else. You might have lived in a mansion back home. But you also have heard or seen a child who had no access to education. You are here because your country sent you to attend school or came in search for better opportunities. That’s why you are not here on a safari, you left that in Tanzania.

With the opportunity you have been given, much is demanded from you. Your home country expects much of you. Your camp expects much from you. Your new country expects much from you. The children of the world expect much from you. You’ve got to create a learning curve.

Education is not key. Education is the lock and what you learn is the key. Learn until your brain hurts. Then learn some more. This is the only flag of dedication of which refugees and immigrants should pledge.

There is only 2% of people who hold college degrees in the world. (The U.S. has a lot of people that have college degrees…I get it). However, if you are a refugee or immigrant, you should pursue a college education or at least get an associates degree. Think big and expand your horizon.

As an immigrant, you must work triple hard as an average American to finally make it in the United States. I do not know about you. But my family came on a loan! Many refugees come on loans! My family had to pay it all back and I know some other families who did the same.

The odds are real. In fact, people hate every accent besides their own. It is sad, but you are limited by a so-called difficult name to pronounce, accent, skin color, religion, and not being an “American” in general. Don’t get too comfortable. You have got to try everything in your power to scrape the surface and overcome these odds.

5. Give back no matter what!
Any person who cannot identify the need to help another is already lost.

It only costs around $30 per month to put a child to school. There are approximately 60 million children in the world without access to education. If all refugees and immigrants in the United States sponsored one child to go to school, we would create the world where no child is left behind.

6. Be spiritually smart
“Show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith by my works.” —James 2:18

Through talking with other diaspora groups, most of us are very connected with our churches and religions and that’s great. But when church activities take your Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you might be skipping out the time to be a disciple through work. Faith with work outweighs faith without it. So, put in work!

7. Create your own limitations
“If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do you no harm.” —African Proverb

Someone created studies that said you must sleep 8-10 hours per day. Well, that person had a certain lifestyle that required 8-10 hours of sleep for their body to function well. You are not that person. You have got to create your own limitations! Find out how much sleep you really need for your body to function well and let it be. Be disciplined in how much time to sleep, watch TV, and use social media. You have got to create your own limitations.

Personal freedom: Create that generational wealth that you need to finally get to the point in your life where you will sleep until done. You want to live full-time, not part-time. Do not let anyone tell you that you are not capable of climbing the walls of greatness. Those are their limitations, not yours.



Born in the small African country, Burundi, Wilson Kubwayo is now an inspirational speaker and talks to diverse audiences about his theme, “Climbing the Walls of Greatness: How to live life to your fullest potential.”

By Wilson Kubwayo

Born in the small African country, Burundi, Wilson Kubwayo is now an inspirational speaker and talks to diverse audiences about his theme, “Climbing the Walls of Greatness: How to live life to your fullest potential.”

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