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I Found a Home in DSM USA After Moving from Nigeria

Diversity in DSM

May 18, 2018

According to the New American Economy, eight percent of residents in Greater Des Moines (DSM) are foreign-born. DSM is becoming more diverse each day and each new resident brings a fresh perspective on life and has a story to tell. My story is about being Nigerian-born and finding my place in DSM.

A last-minute move to DSM

Interestingly, I did not originally plan on moving to Iowa and initially was going to be living in Utah upon arrival to the U.S. My plans changed at the last moment but thankfully an Iowa family graciously shared their home with my family. We lived in Urbandale for six months before moving to West Des Moines and ended up finding a home on the southside of Des Moines.

Ayara HeadshotIn Nigeria, I worked in the media and communications field as a news anchor. I was on two television programs and one radio program for about 10 years prior to moving here. I moved to the U.S. in 2013 through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, a federal government program that awards up to 50,000 individuals per year a visa for a green card, granting permanent residency in the U.S. and a path to citizenship. Upon coming to the U.S., I was looking forward to having a clean slate and being able to blend in without someone recognizing me from TV. I am currently employed at a financial group in DSM as a Contracting Specialist, a job where the company values its employees and their morale.

While looking for a job, I often had to fill forms out online instead of meeting face-to-face, which I found quite challenging and a contrast to the employment process in my home country. I appreciate what the Greater Des Moines Partnership is doing connecting the dots to assist the foreign-born population through its Global DSM program and its resources for foreign-born persons.

Giving back to the community

Ayara HeadshotI stay involved in the community by using my skills to support worthy causes. I work to bring awareness of the changing demographics in DSM and to tap into the emerging rich culture and diversity blossoming in Iowa. I serve as the communications advisor for Africans in Iowa for Empowerment and work with the Nigerian Association of Iowa. I do my best to collaborate with different ethnic groups in DSM. I strive to educate people regardless of age, gender, tribe or religion and firmly believe that bringing people together of different backgrounds can create a vibrant region that we all can call home.

Diversity brings vitality, energy and beauty to a region. I hope to help others integrate into DSM so we can all fully embrace the opportunities here and so we can get to know each other as neighbors.

Through the Global DSM initiative, the Greater Des Moines Partnership works to establish Greater Des Moines (DSM) as a global community by bolstering global trade and foreign investments and leveraging international talent. Check out resources for foreign-born talent and more Global DSM stories.

Victor Ayara

Victor Ayara holds a Masters of Science degree in communication with a concentration in public relations from Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts. He works for Sammons Financial Group in Greater Des Moines (DSM) as a contracting representative. Ayara previously worked at Wells Fargo Bank in consumer lending. Prior to moving to the U.S. in 2013, Ayara was an award-winning Nigerian broadcaster, voice talent and an entertainer. Trained at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria Training School as a professional presenter, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in peace studies and conflict resolution. Ayara is the public relations officer of the Nigerian Association of Iowa and functions as one of the advisors for Africans in Iowa for Empowerment. He is also a member of the board of the Iowa Youth Chorus. Ayara's hobbies include music, reading, cooking and sharing his culture with others. He is happily married with kids.