threads of our fabric

Reflections on navigating between two cultures and understanding the self-awareness process

Me?!?!…Proud to be African?!?!…Abeg!! June 22, 2011

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Pride – Dictionary definition: “A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired”

I always wonder where this deep affinity and sense of connectedness with anything African developed. Quite a puzzle… I cannot pinpoint the date, time, month, season, or event that was the catalyst for my African Pride. 

During my early immigrant years, I tried extremely hard to be not-African. The wardrobe change was the first effort to assimilate and become identified as an American. Matching was a big faux-pas. This was followed by working on rolling my R’s by watching all-American TV shows to absorb the culture, thought processes, and lifestyle. Over the course of high school, parts of me slowly faded into shadows, hidden from my peers not out of shame, but because it was much easier than having to explain me. Transitioning from a society and culture where I did not have to explain who I was or how we as a people do what we do, was very hard. The norms were drastically different. I found myself constantly answering many trivial questions such as “No, we do not live on trees” or “Africa is a continent and not a country” or “Yes, I learned english in Africa”…It was easier to develop a whole new persona and live a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy when interacting with the outside world. Ajong was kept for the home and family.

But once I arrived the university, I found myself living with a mini-UN. Women with varied ethnic and racial heritages – Albanian, Native American, Lebanese, Trinidad, Italian, Cameroonian – all in two-neigboring rooms. That was an amazing college experience and we are all still good friends today, celebrating marriages and births. Maybe it takes encountering others who are different to appreciate and value one’s cultural inheritance. It certainly did for me.

I continuously find myself in the mix of diverse cultures. Perhaps the pull and appeal to connect stems from the mutual understanding and similarities of our immigrant’s experience. Learning to create a home in a new world by integrating African origins with present surroundings. I entered the United States through D.C., as a scared, homesick, quiet little girl and have now cycled back to D.C. as a purposeful, driven, and confident woman. Just thinking about my social connection to many different parts of the world always brings a smile to my heart. Life truly is evolution and change. I feel very international with a strong tie to a global community, which is why I am thrilled to be part of the DC Mayor’s 2nd Annual African Festival…”One City: Many Voices” on July 16th (Takoma Recreation Center, 300 Van Buren Street, NW, Washington, DC)…if you are around…stop by, I would love to connect!

There’s a blogger’s village too for fellow insightful thought-provoking word junkies comme moi! So to close, I love my African heritage. Cameroon gave me values, family, and a foundation upon which to grow as a person. America dared me to explore and soar.

 

Enjoy one of my favorite clips about Africa

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Visit Africa for FREE!!! June 12, 2011

Filed under: Community — Sharon Asonganyi @ 5:49 pm
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One does not necessarily have to travel to Africa in order to experience the myriad of cultures, ethnicities, vernacular, and cuisines. If you are in/around Washington D.C., JULY16th 2011 from 12-6pm at Takoma Recreation Center, the Mayor of DC’s Office on African Affairs will be hosting its 2ndAnnual African Festival!!! Come and enjoy the many rhythms and soul of Africa. Do not forget to bring your flag for the unforgettable “Parade of the Flag”.

The Threads of Our Fabric (TOF) Project is one of the event organizers (Check out the flyer). Please come out and show your support for showcasing the cultural and economic contributions of Africans in D.C.\

 

CAMEROON: Lessons from the Kitchen | World Pulse June 10, 2011

 

World Pulse

 

CAMEROON: Lessons from the Kitchen | World Pulse

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I am an alien… June 7, 2011

Last night while walking briskly to my Pilates class, I pondered about the day’s tasks yet to be accomplished…whether I would have the energy to do laundry even though it entails just dumping the clothes in a washing machine. Then my thoughts quickly switched over to my newly acquired ingredients for a recommended acne therapy (if successful I will share the recipe in a later post)…All these thoughts buzzing through my head, bouncing from one random thought unto another. All of a sudden I hear…”Excuse me ma’am, would you like to sign a petition to stop illegal aliens from getting tuition at University of Maryland?”. All the thoughts in my mind abruptly stopped and all I could think was “Are you serious?!?!…” I stared unbelievably at the sign on the ground and looked at a serious face extending a tablet that already had some signatures on it. Oh, I would have loved to have some choice words with him but everyone has the right to free expression even if it conflicts with other’s ideals…So I pleasantly smiled, casually and slyly replied “I am an alien…” turned and coolly walked away, but not before noticing the blank, stunned expression on his face.

 

As I walked away to my Pilates class, I was saddened by the thought that the man carrying out this petition will never experience the beauty of interacting with others from different cultural backgrounds. I felt sorry that he was not aware of the circumstances surrounding the difficult choice of migrating to new countries. Or that most students on visas have to pay full tuition as well as living expenses without the authorization to work in America. I would have stayed in Cameroon, it was home as a little girl. Alas, leaving was not my choice. I am nonetheless grateful for the opportunities and new life afforded me in the United States. As I continue working on the Threads of Our Fabric (TOF) Project, I have met amazing, inspiring individuals who have exposed me to new African cultures: Congo, Mali, Uganda, Namibia, Kenya, just to name a few… My life has been made so much richer and fuller with friends across the continent who are wonderful individuals.

 

Just another random affirmation why the TOF Project is needed to raise awareness, educate, and connect others to the immigrant’s experience.

 

QUESTION: Have you had any similar experiences or encounters that made you pause and think?

 

What is on my mind today?… Women + Girls + Africa June 5, 2011

Blooming AfricaIs change truly change when it is the product of an organic growth process? When progressing through a transition is necessary, I am always puzzled by people who resist it. Is not part of life growth and change?  If one refuses to be part of the process, then I believe life becomes passive living. I think life would be quite boring. Life can be an evolution towards a greater self. We learn and integrate new experiences into our perceptions and understanding. My view of Africa’s potential parallels this same thought structure – a tabula rasa or blank slate – endless immense opportunities.

 Every time I have conversations with amazing African kinfolk I redouble my efforts on the Threads of Our Fabric Project. The TOF Project enables and empowers African women and girls to share their culture, identity, and unique selves through media. There has been an increase in the use of multimedia to present realistic solutions and raise awareness about various societal issues. USAID, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with an infographic on “Why invest in women?” a topic that is forever near and dear to my heart.  I really enjoyed the graphic representation of some of the hard truths in women and girl’s lives. It saddens my heart when I see others in more developed countries unconcerned about some of these issues affecting their peers worldwide.

Please take a moment, not more than 5-10mins to go through this infographic and may it stir you within to pick a cause greater than you that you can champion. There are many lives dependent on you to support them and ensure their future. Time, money, and skills…pick one and invest in a woman or girl. Bring a welcomed positive change in the lives of women and girls who are desperately in need of something different, something other than the status quo.

USAID 50th Anniversary: Why Invest in Women?