threads of our fabric

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

Value of words July 25, 2011

I just got off a phone call that has me thinking how easily words are used, written, and exchanged without any concrete value or meaning or intent. Especially conversations with service providers that often feel scripted especially when I have an issue with a product.

Imagine the frustration and headache for new immigrants who must navigate the countless multi-tiered systems in America. There is no such thing as “simple”. For example, if you are a victim of fraud. Someone steals your bank card and goes on a shopping spree. Naturally, one would expect a phone call to the bank which would lead to a freeze on the account and begin an investigation. In a couple of weeks you would have your restored funds because they are FDIC insured and a new bank card… WRONG!!! After getting through navigating the 1-800 automated system, you may be fortunate to reach a life rep who will make promises only to appease you and get you off the phone. Followed by an email with forms and further instructions…and the headache continues…words…

Photo courtesy of AEGEE Alicante

Promise “make a declaration assuring that something will or will not be done” (Dictionary.com)…Words that create expectations.

My Grandparents often told me stories that demonstrated the power and value of one’s word. Land was bought and sold by verbal agreements. Even today traditional marriages reflect this custom, two families agree that two people are married.  One can imagine how coming from this way of thinking and acting, it is natural to believe and trust the words that are spoken.

My time here in America has taught me quite a number of things. I believe that one of the most important lessons has been to use my words wisely, speak up, ask questions. Silence is not golden, in America it is deadly. Sometimes you may encounter unfair situations that would make you want to …

Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson

And sometimes you have to be assertive and aggressive to get what you want…it may not be my nature, but I had to adapt to survive.

Have you encountered similar situations where you had to adapt to new ways because your beliefs and cultural expectations were a handicap for you? Please share your thoughts 🙂

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

Filed under: Community,Education — Sharon Asonganyi @ 1:35 pm
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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!!!

 

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

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

April 16, 2011

 

 

LeThee’Ma Week 2: Home Sweet Home March 2, 2011

I began LeThee’Ma week 2 discussion with this Akan quote (Ghana): The family is like the forest, if you are outside it is dense, if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position.

In reading this week’s thoughts that were so generously shared, I could see evident elements of this proverb. Undoubtedly, the foundational development of a sense of self occurs in the home. Who you are is shaped from a very early age by what occurs, is allowed, or disapproved. It seems as the skeletal core is established over childhood and becomes one’s support and framework for perceiving life. The cultural aspect is typically transferred through observation, questioning, and participation. Our mothers had a prominent role in shaping us and demonstrating various cultural values through food, clothes, stories, hair styles, or language. It is amazing how modeling extrinsic features helps build an internal sense of self and a sense of belonging in relation to a group of people.

As we grow and evolve in relation to other family members, we are still uniquely shaped by our “other” environments such as school, work, friends, or hobbies.

As for me, home is defined as wherever and whenever family is present. Although shared memories may give special meaning to physical places, there is nothing much better than the understanding smile of a mother, the hug of a father, or bantering with siblings. By them accepting, encouraging, and nurturing my true self, I am emboldened to freely express ME as I venture into different environments.

In the shadow of my fabric

 

My Blended Story February 23, 2011

File:Cameroon COA.svgAs I continue work on the Threads of Our Fabric Project, I find myself spending a significant part of time reflecting on my own immigrant’s story. My childhood was left in Cameroon and my identity as a young adult developed in America…  What began as an ongoing personal quest for self-understanding continues to evolve into a life project.

During my interactions with the many young women I have interviewed over the past 7 months, it is as if spirit recognizes spirit at every encounter.  Particularly for those considered the 1.5 immigrant generation, like myself. We instantly bond over shared difficulties and experiences. Over the course of a 30-45 mins conversation (sometimes longer!), we recognize a shared core, a mirroring of souls. Understanding beyond words the journey that brought us to a new country, the many trials and successes of  integrating. Most importantly, the weight of not fully belonging to the land we emigrated from or the one to which we now belong. Though connected in our new communities, there are often feelings of isolation because of how intimately our unique identities become tied to the overall experience. Over time, I have personally found that I have been able to preserve some of my culture. Thanks to my family and being part of the Cameroonian community in various states. However, I had to adjust over time to accommodate my identity that emerged in the context of American society.

The United States

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LeThee’Ma Summary – Week 1 February 20, 2011

Wow!!..I was delighted by the active participation in week 1’s discussion. A sincere and profound “THANK YOU!” to all the commentors.Very exciting!!! The launch of LeThee’Ma was quite successful!…  The personal stories and insights were absolutely wonderful to read. I enjoyed hearing your diverse unique voices that had me laughing as I reflected on similar personal experiences. Some of which occasionally left me with a slight case of nostalgia.

For some, immigrating was an opportunity to travel to a safe-haven of acceptance, while for others it brought on new barriers which challenged their previously constructed sense of self. Life is indeed a very interesting journey. To live is to grow and continuously evolve. All of which involves change – a natural part of life. At times we are able to prepare for expected changes and at other times it is unforseen, leaving us having to respond as we progress through it. How do you maintain internal sameness and constancy when you meet the unfamiliar externally?

While reading the comments, I noticed that self-acceptance always resulted in a confident inner strength which provided resilience with each new experience. Some of you have been able to masterfully cultivate a strong awareness of and sensitivity to your beautiful  inner voices.  This ability has enabled you successfully soar over the hurdles of assimilating into a new society. Meanwhile, others have just begun the life journey of listening to your innate feminine spirit wisdom and have experienced the thrills of being true to you regardless of environment.

Inspiration: When a woman is connected to and lives from the strength of complete inner self-knowledge,  her full potential will always manifest itself regardless of her environment.

Question: How do you listen to your inner voice? How do you develop a trusting attitude in its wisdom? What are some strategies that have worked for you?

 

Underneath my fabric