Humans of Cranston: Angela Muhuri

Posted 1/10/24

Humans of Cranston is a recurring column showcasing the stories of Cranston community members’ community involvement, diversity, and unique life perspectives.

Angela Muhuri teaches English …

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Humans of Cranston: Angela Muhuri


Humans of Cranston is a recurring column showcasing the stories of Cranston community members’ community involvement, diversity, and unique life perspectives.

Angela Muhuri teaches English as a Second Language at the Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, an organization supporting immigrants, refugees, and vulnerable Rhode Islanders.

I live in Cranston, and before that I lived for a bit in Providence, but I’m an immigrant – I'm here from Bangladesh. I first came to the United States as an undergraduate student, so I’ve lived in many different states, but for the last twenty years, I’ve lived in Rhode Island. I grew up in Dhaka, which is the capital. It’s one of the most crowded cities, but it’s also a very old city; it used to be very, very beautiful. It’s a bit filled with traffic jams and too many people right now, but it’s still a very, very lovely city with lots of great history. The effect of many different cultures can be seen in Bangladesh, and it’s a country filled with rivers and very warm-hearted people. I grew up in the very thick urban center of it, and when I finished high school, I came here to study in the States.

My dad was the one who decided that I should come to the States for higher education, mostly because we were being ruled under a dictator at the time, and there were many protests in the main university – actually, in all the universities – lots of student protests, and a coursework that would be a four-year bachelor’s coursework could take many more years because schools would often shut down, and there were protests at the university campuses, arrests, things like that, and he didn’t think it was safe; it wasn’t safe. I was raised in a minority family, we were Christians, and so there were some feelings around safety from that, too. ... My dad was the one who decided that I would be a lot safer, and so I came here. I didn’t have much to do with that decision, although, of course I was really excited to come to a new country, and I knew many, many, many more students would love to have that opportunity, so I was lucky that I was able to have family support, because at that time, I had nobody that I knew that lived here, no family members, nothing, and so it was a big thing to come so far away as an eighteen-year-old, especially when I hadn’t really spent any time away without my parents anywhere. … I knew English, and that really helped, but otherwise, everything changed in my life when I came to Bethel College, which is a small Mennonite college in North Newton, Kansas. I studied International Studies – International Development – it was part of a Global Studies program.

[After graduating], I wanted to go back to Bangladesh, that was really my hope, but my parents were really not keen on that idea. Things had changed and, again, they brought up the idea that it was just not that safe for women. … I flailed around a little bit because I was in Kansas and there wasn’t much international about Kansas, so I went back to KU afterwards, University of Kansas, and I studied, again, International Studies, this time with a particular interest in Women’s Studies, but I traveled to Rhode Island for my husband’s job at Hasbro after graduate school. After that, I just looked for anything with the name “international” in it as a job, and I wanted to work part-time only, so I found Dorcas International Institute right away because it has the word “international” in it, and I’ve been involved in it ever since teaching. It was not my goal to be a teacher, but that’s where I found my calling, and over the years, I’ve really enjoyed it.

At Dorcas, it’s truly an international environment; there are people from everywhere. Our staff is very diverse, from everywhere, and of course our clients are international, and they’re often refugees, sometimes asylees, but at almost all points we are serving immigrant communities. My students at any semester can be from ten to fifteen different countries, at least a good eight to ten countries every semester, and many languages are represented, many faiths are represented, so I feel very at home, because I’ve noticed something about myself: after living abroad for so many years, I feel most at home with people who have traveled, by their own choice or because of life circumstances. If they’ve had to live somewhere else, learn to live somewhere else, that kind of change in a person’s life and a person’s values, that I can really relate to, that feeling of initial shock, helplessness, a feeling of, “what? What am I supposed to do now?” That vulnerability is something I can see in my students. It’s so much more than just language, although language barriers are huge, and I’m really thankful that I didn’t have that barrier, but I can imagine how it could really impact adjusting to a new culture. So, I feel like this is my place, to be able to help them in any way I can.

I would encourage people to learn about immigrant lives. There are so many misconceptions about immigrants taking advantage of our system, that they vote when they’re not legal, or all these things that people say that if you probe them and you say, “do you know, until you become a citizen, really there is no opportunity to vote?” Like, if I would ask them that, they would be like, “really? I thought you could! As soon as you get a green card you can vote,” and then I tell them, like, “that’s really just not true, it just doesn’t happen that way.” So, just learn to get to know what kind of a life or what kind of options immigrants have. “Why don’t they just come here legally?” Well, there are hardly any good options! There hasn’t been any meaningful immigration legislation passed since the nineties, you know? Nobody wants to give the other political party a win, so there’s just no agreement, and this feeling that, “my parents or my parents came here legally!” Well, the rules are not the same. The circumstances are not the same. So, I wish there was an honest discussion about these issues, an honest exchange, honest perspectives represented in the media about how immigrants actually live. I think that would really help to get both populations to understand each other a lot better.

The second season of this project has been made possible by the Rhode Island Department of Health and the efforts of the OneCranston Health Equity Zone of Comprehensive Community Action, Inc. in partnership with the Cranston Herald and Timothy McFate. The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of Humans of Cranston participants do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the aforementioned parties. The presented stories are voluntarily provided, unpaid, and given verbatim except for correcting grammatical errors. 

Want to nominate a Cranston resident to be featured? Email JB at

humans, Muhuri, Dorcas


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