threads of our fabric

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

End Human Trafficking January 31, 2012

It is amazing to look back at previous posts. It is almost a year since my post on Human Trafficking (Click Here) and the issue is still as critical today. Here is an interesting fundraiser in the DC-MD-VA area coming up February 8th 2012.

 

Women and girls are often targeted and dis-empowered over the course of the trafficking system globally. Human trafficking is a complex issue fueled by various socioeconomic and cultural factors. The American Psychological Association produced a great report that examines the intersect of psychology and human trafficking as it affects women and girls (report). Stay educated and keep your eyes open…it can happen in your neighborhood or a few blocks from you. Not too long ago I read about a sting operation that busted a trafficking ring in Rockville, MD (NewsFlash). I am glad with the outcome but wish people had acted sooner on their suspicions. In such situations, I believe in being cautious rather than sorry.

 

Welcome to America…Now What? July 31, 2011

Filed under: Education,Reflections — Sharon Asonganyi @ 9:59 pm
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I have had some interesting conversations and speechless moments this past week with friends and families about “Making it in America”. All of which have inspired me to begin a new series posting on the first experiences typically encountered by immigrants in new environments like unintentional jaywalking or attempts to bargain every price in stores.  I always laugh as I recall my early experiences of adjusting to life in America. I often wonder if such experiences are comparable to those of little children when they are exploring the world for the first time. Staring, curious, inquisitive, and experimenting…It is difficult having to fully function in a new country and making timely decisions with no frame of reference or any prior encounters with situations that would have given you wisdom for the future. Imagine moving from a rural villages in Fontem to New York City. One would have to learn all new rules of social interaction based on a different culture, which can be intimidating and scary. I hope that as you read some of my postings, that you will post your thoughts and comments, sharing your unique experience adjusting to life in a new country. Enjoy!

 

 

Fellowship announcement for Africa Day – May 25, 2011 May 25, 2011

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

Image via Wikipedia

Many good things come from Africa and yours truly is a 100% product. My life and opportunities afforded me would not be possible today, if not for selfless humanitarians who tirelessly worked (in many places still working) to ensure that women have a contributing voice in society. I happened across this announcement that was extremely worth sharing. I wish you the best should you apply and let me know the outcome.

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Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights launching Fellowship Programme for People of African Descent, Geneva

Deadline: 15 June 2011

In the context of the International Year for People of African Descent, the Anti-Discrimination Section of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is launching a Fellowship Programme for People of African Descent from 10 October to 4 November 2011.

The Fellowship Programme will provide participants with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the United Nations Human Rights system and its mechanisms, with a focus on issues of particular relevance to people of African descent.

This will allow the fellows to better contribute to the protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of Afro-descendants in their respective countries and communities.

Who can apply?

– The candidate must be an African descendant.
– The candidate must have a minimum of 4 years experience dealing with Afro-descendant or minority issues.
– The candidate must be fluent in English.
– A letter of support from an Afro-descendant organization or community.

Selection Process

In selecting the fellows, gender and ensuring a regional balance will be taken into account. All documents submitted must be in English.

Entitlements

The selected candidate is entitled to a stipend to cover accommodation, basic living expenses in Geneva, basic health insurance as well as a return economy class plane ticket.

Application

Interested candidates are requested to submit their application by email to: africandescent@ohchr.org or by fax to 004122-928 9050 with a cover letter clearly indicating “Application to the 2011 Fellowship Programme for People of African Descent” with the following documents:

– An application form which can be downloaded at    http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Events/IYPAD/ApplicationFormIYPAD.pdf
– A Curriculum Vitae
– A letter of motivation (maximum 1 page) in which the candidate will explain his/her motivation for applying, what    he/she hopes to achieve through this fellowship and how he/she will use what they learn to promote the interests and rights of afro-descendants
– A letter of support from an organization/entity they are affiliated with.

The deadline to receive applications is 15 June 2011. Please note that only short-listed applicants will be contacted.

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Application for fellowship is available here

 

Life in ANIMATION May 19, 2011

Map of Africa indicating Gross Domestic Produc...

Image via Wikipedia

HELLO!!! I took a long hiatus and now I am back… It certainly was not a loss of words or ideas to freely write about…life has just been happening in high-def animation too quickly to pause and process. I apologize for the brief pause because that is a diservice to you and many other transient readers. Let us try to re-cap some hot-happenings in my world and continue full force ahead! 

As usual, since Africa is always on my heart and all its causes integrated into my fibers, I have been heavily advocating and supporting African-led, African-sponsored, and Africa-focused events throughout the Metro DC area. One of them that has my fingers tweeting like crazy ( @threadsofrfabrc) is Secretary Clinton’s Global Diaspora Forum that is going on in Washington D.C. from May 17-19th, 2011. (Follow them on twitter @DiasporaAtState) It is all very exciting and I kept hearing the echo of Horace Walpole’s statement “Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion” in the shadows of my mind. There were a number of great initiatives launched but my top three were:

  1. IDEA – International Diaspora Engagement Alliance
  2. BOOM – by m-Via. (global mobile banking services launched in Haiti and Mexico) 
  3. African Diaspora Marketplace – USAID and Western Union (Our African atm service system, lol)

All of which should radically spark a faster globalization movement built on connecting immigrant linkages with their native country roots. It is incredible how all of this is based on using extended relationships to leverage opportunities. As Africans, we have a huge extended family network who often depend on us for financial support. Over the years we have sent significant sums of money for school fees, household support, funerals, investments, housing etc… In fact, in 2009, $20,742 million USD was received in the form of remittances by countries in Sub-Sahara Africa, constituting about 2.2% of that area’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

It’s great that the Diaspora is being recognized in powerful ways, politically for diplomacy and peacebuilding, economically for innovative development and businesses ventures, and socially…well we know how to party and have a good time! But more importantly, in Africa, the way we do business is through relationships, people to people without intermediaries… Our sense of connectedness has always been our strength and now our opportunity!

It’s feels great to be an immigrant!

Stay tuned for information on Africa’s representation/image in the media – I will be twitting from tonights African Diaspora for Change event “Media Check: Africa”…follow me  @threadsofrfabrc

 

Uganda recollections – Threads of Our Fabric Project April 24, 2011

 

It is good to travel. One gets a short opportunity to experience another world, cultures, and along the way meet interesting people. It is wonderful to plug oneself into different life happening elsewhere in another microcosm. As I wait to board my next 8hr+ flight leg back to the United States of America, I wonder how I will be able to capture the experience I just left behind in Uganda.

In the past few weeks, I have spent time with amazing people who have enlarged my familial connection in Africa. Some of who were initially web acquaintances but have since become amazing and inspiring people that I will treasure for the rest of my life – Grace, Catherine, Stella, Eva, Joan, Jane, and Johnson. They shared with me the warmth of their company and re-connected me with the genuine hospitality of Africans. I will miss their inviting smiles, scrumptious food, and pleasant company. In their presence I felt my whole being acknowledged and accepted. I felt free…free from pretense, raised defenses, or the pressure of having to prove something. I was valued for me.

I truly believe that if one allows themselves to become fully immersed in a culture during travelling, good things really can happen in new surroundings! One thing I definitely noted was Uganda is not quite so different from Cameroon, my ancestral home. Amazing striking landscapes, lively people, the superb nightlife ambiance, and the unvarying climate. On the not so pleasant side of things, the similarities also include rife political tension, rising cost of fuel and commodities. In Uganda, I discovered an extension of “home” and increased my appetite to explore other African countries. I took great pleasure in learning some of the culture, sampling the culinary delicacies (heavily matooke-based), and enjoying the various ethnic rhythms.

It is worth travelling! I believe that by travelling one’s world and life experience is further expanded and consequently forever changed. In Uganda, I became connected to another world outside of my norm. For a brief period in time, I disconnected from routine and in the process discovered more of me. As I wait for my flight, I can already feel my heartbeat quickening to match the fast-paced rhythm of daily life in America. Part of me is grateful to return, but another yearns to hold on to the spiritual release, tranquility, and excitement of Africa.

In the weeks to come, I will attempt to present my experience in East Africa. I spent time visiting secondary and nursing schools with the phenomenal Sexual Health Improvement Project. The newest partner with Threads of Our Fabric Project focused on youth gender empowerment on sexual health issues. Additionally, roaming through Queen Elizabeth National Park and stopping by the fish port at Lake Edward. Finally, witnessing deadly political riots, saddening spillage of the ongoing unrest in many parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Let’s take a journey into the Pearl of Africa – Uganda.

 

A girl and her camera… April 20, 2011

Implementation of SHIP with student body - Nyakageme Secondary School

 
More postings and summary to come soon…stay tuned!
 

Status update: It’s complicated… March 28, 2011

Filed under: Community,Education — Sharon Asonganyi @ 1:35 pm
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Globe icon.
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Race and Ethnicity in America – By educating others about who we are and our cultural heritage, we are able to dismantle some commonly held stereotypes about us…The blending of racial and ethnic identities continues to challenge existing race classification systems used by the federal government of America: Asian, American Indian, Black, and White.

I have Cameroonian, Nigerian, and American cultural influences and ancestries. Now I really do wish that my parents had taken advantage of the opportunity to give birth to me in Scotland. Now that would have made for some great discussions! Regardless, I embrace all of me and how my heritage allows me more cultural sensitivity towards others. Enjoy a clip from Voices of America – Tackling this topic!!!