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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

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From Africa to North America - Marine gains worldly experience

By Lance Cpl. Edward R. Guevara Jr. | | April 25, 2003

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- With the fall of Asian Mali, the Ashant Tribe moved to the southwest of the Sahara Desert where the tribe's bloodline now plays a role in the family lines of some immigrants in the United States, including a new Marine graduating from Company A today.

Growing up in the capital city of Accra, Ghana, of West Africa, until the age of 15, Pvt. Kofi Afreh, Platoon 1065, played with his friends in the fields and explored his surroundings with unending curiosity.

Afreh was brought to Long Island, N.Y., in 1996 by Kwame and Stella Pobee Afreh, his father and mother, who won Green Cards in a lottery system designed for people of all financial standings to have a chance to come to the United States, according to James G. Conley, Afreh's guardian of three years.  He was forced to leave the remainder of his siblings behind in Ghana because of mishandled government paperwork.

His mother moved with him to Chicago in 1998, while his father stayed and worked in New York.

Stella found work in a suburb just outside of town, in the Conley home as a nanny for the family's first-born baby.

"When we hired Kofi's mother as a nanny, she moved into our third floor, so we got Kofi too," said Sally Crawford Conley, Afreh's guardian.

The local high school was very reputable and seemed like a great opportunity, according to Afreh.  When his mother had to change jobs, she released custody of Afreh to the Conley's so he could finish his education at the elite high school.

"An arrangement was made to let Sally become my guardian so I could go to New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill.," said Afreh.

According to Afreh, he had some difficulty fitting in with the other children because of his race, being only one of very few African-Americans in a Caucasian-majority community.

He still embraced his opportunities at the school by playing soccer, reading and writing different kinds of literature such as poetry, and learning about the U.S. government and how its political system works, according to Afreh.

He came to this country with the mentality of wanting to contribute to it in any way he could, according to Afreh.

"I first tried out for the national soccer team," said Afreh.  "When I didn't make the cut in soccer, I went to college."

Afreh attended Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., and Holy Cross College, Notre Dame, Ind., where he played soccer and took general studies classes to find his major.

"I would like to continue school in the area of political science and learn more about the U.S. government," said Afreh.

While in school, he talked with his guardian's brother, a reserve Marine, and was intrigued by the opportunities the Marine Corps had to offer.

"I still feel that motivation even now," said Afreh.

His goals now are to make a career for himself in the Marine Corps and to earn enough money to bring his sister and three brothers to the United States, so they can have some of the same opportunities he has had.

He also looks forward to seeing his guardians and two of the couple's four daughters at graduation.

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