threads of our fabric

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

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?


4 Responses to “I am an alien…”

  1. Edlyn Says:

    Girl! When I read this post, I was shocked and appalled that such a “petition” even existed! The fact that people would co-sign to the idea of not affording a person the right to an education based on the fact that they were simply not born here is just disgusting! I mean, if most people acted like “illegal aliens”, hungry to take advantage of every opportunity that they are “allowed” to take advantage of, this country would be in a far better place than it is currently. How about we reform our welfare system instead? It seems like a more worthwhile venture than preventing someone from bettering themselves and position in life through education than anything else…

    • sharasong Says:

      Thanks so much for your input and response. Yes, I too was shocked! I agree that there are many more worthwhile causes that need to be tackled in America or across the globe compared to disallowing education.

  2. Jessica Says:

    Great post. I love your response “I am an alien.” They have a lot of nerve approaching random people on the street like that. Didn’t they ever stop and think “Well gee, how would an “illegal alien” feel being approached by us? How can we help them overcome some of the obstacles they encounter?” Nope no one gave it a second thought. And yes, that is why TOF is very necessary!

    • sharasong Says:

      Thanks Jessica! Education of others and empowerment of us so that we can find common ground on much bigger world issue like lack of clean water or malnutrition, instead of blocking those seeking higher education and professional opportunities.

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