Toundzi discusses immigration at the American Dream assembly


Photo by Lara Del Vecchio

By Kat Trupia, Contributor

On this past Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 20, 2020, Mr. Aristide Toundzi, visited West Essex to speak with the junior and senior classes on his immigration to the United States.

Toundzi was born in Cameroon, located on the coast of West Africa. Devoted to his academics, Toundzi was asked to study engineering and business in France after graduating high school. From there, he moved to the United States and continued to study business at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Toundzi, currently a North Caldwell resident, was asked by Humanities Supervisor Laura Drago to speak at West Essex. After hearing Toundzi’s inspiring story, Drago decided that Toundzi would be a great person to speak to West Essex students.

“I was always fascinated by things he would share,” Drago said. “Not just his stories in Cameroon, but the overall ideas that he had about coming to the United States and the American dream.”

In his speech, Toundzi not only shared his story of his life in Cameroon and his transition to life in America, but also discussed important topics such as cultural tolerance. Toundzi encouraged students to expand their horizons outside of the New Jersey bubble. He believes that it is necessary to step out of your comfort zone.

“The world is a small village, so don’t be afraid to travel and explore,” Toundzi said. “We are all interconnected.”

Drago knew that Toundzi’s story contained an underlying message that needed to be shared. Drago was confident that Toundzi would be able to positively impact the West Essex community.

“My hope was for students to see and hear someone so interesting and dynamic,” Drago said. “You don’t have to be born in the United States to have these ideals about freedom and hard work. There are other people around the world with the same ideals.”