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

 

World Pulse

 

CAMEROON: Lessons from the Kitchen | World Pulse

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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!
 

EXTRA! EXTRA! Camer Spotlight… March 17, 2011

This sums up why I created the Threads of Our Fabric project…Enjoy!! (Click here).

Note: Stay tuned for very exciting news! The Threads of Our Fabric Project is going international 🙂

 

Why CARE For Women and Girls? March 12, 2011

CARE 2011 National Conference - Washington, DC

“Over the past century, women have broken through barriers to achieve political, economic and social advances never before imagined. Yet, there are still many places where gender defines a person’s ability to reach their full potential. The fact that more than a thousand people have gathered here in Washington to speak out on behalf of girls and women in poor communities is a testament to the compassion of the American people” – With these words, Dr. Helene Gayle opened CARE 2011 National conference, exhorting all in attendance and defined our purpose for this important meeting. Over a thousand activists gathered in the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day and CARE’s 65th anniversary. The energy was exciting, hopeful, and purposeful. These activists will celebrate CARE’s many achievements from investing in women, and prepare to storm Capitol Hill on Thursday, March 10th, 2011 to meet with legislative representatives and advocate on three main issues – the importance of foreign aid, providing financial opportunities for women, and empowerment through education.

CARE - Defending Dignity & Fighting Poverty

CARE is one of the largest private humanitarian organizations that has evolved to continue meeting the pressing needs of society. It was founded in 1945 when 22 American organizations came together to coordinate and rapidly provide relief packages to survivors of World War II.

Original CARE packages have been replaced with Digital CARE packages

It has since evolved to become a leader in fighting global poverty by providing resources to women and using them as leverage to change communities globally. CARE unveiled its virtual CARE package initiative as its anniversary gift to the world. An individual or a group can build a personalized CARE box online that can be sent to women and girls anywhere in the world! “Women are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education, health, and economic opportunity” (www.CARE.org). The CARE 2011 conference emphasized this focus of women and girls by providing tickets to a number of young girls 10-14yrs to attend this wonderful event. This is quite powerful, educating the future change makers by bringing them to experience solutions that have been proven to be effective globally in addressing social injustices against women.

When I arrived at the hotel, I eagerly descended a flight of stairs unto the international terrace. After making my way to the International Ballroom with a new found friend, we located a couple of seats a few feet from the stage. The kick-off session was invigorating and a wonderful energizer. It set the tone for the upcoming conference’s jam-packed panel and advocacy training sessions. This opening night’s atmosphere was relaxed, playful, yet focused. Despite the technical difficulties and the energy of the room blowing out some speakers, the liveliness was infectious, enduring and unstoppable.

Performing artists and fellow activists featured Michael Franti, Crystal Bowersox (2010 American Idol runner-up), Sarah Darling (representing Join my village initiative), and India Arie.

These artists helped us remember that we have a commitment and an obligation to the world to fight for peace and social injustices. Our actions as activists are essential as humans, for every life has equal value. The night closed with these words sung by India Arie “This is my prayer for humanity that we respect our women and protect our girls”. The first day of CARE 2011 closed leaving me radiating with optimism and hope that it only takes the power of ONE to change the future!!!

2010 Voices of Our Future Correspondent – World Pulse

 

The New AGE (African Girl Evolutiion) – Sneak Peek! March 8, 2011

It is with joy, many long sleepless hours of labor, and tears that I present to you a preview of The New AGE (African Girl Evolution)…

 

New AGE Project coming to Ohio!!! March 6, 2011

♥Click here for more info: Threads of Our Fabric Project in Ohio!!!♥

April 16, 2011