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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In.to-me-C March 24, 2011

Filed under: Inspiration — Sharon Asonganyi @ 12:14 am
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I am trying something quite unique with this post – visual poetry… At times pictures beautifully capture and fully express the profound sentiments hidden behind simple words…Enjoy!!!

 

The Threads of Our Fabric Project began by a step through a portal of uncertainty

Graphic by Saizen Media



To the sky I may soar or remaining rooted to the ground I might stay…either way total surrender was the only choice

Graphics by: Double 7 amar akhtar

 

Daring to expose and be transformed by the process

 

Graphics by: Nielly Francoise

 

One soul with a vision and a passion…Now I move with increasing assurance

 

 

 

Graphics by: Design42day

 

 

 

  


 

Discovering the power of – ONE

 

 

 

  
 
 

 

Gwen Rakotovao

 

 

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

 

In the Twenty-First Century???… February 10, 2011

Filed under: Reflections — Sharon Asonganyi @ 11:09 pm
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For most people, gathering with friends and family to watch the Super Bowl is an age-old typical American football tradition. Oftentimes, viewers can be categorized into one of three fan camps: 1) Those who support one of the two teams playing, 2) those whose team was eliminated at some point during the play-offs, or 3) those who are avid fans of the exclusive over-priced commercial premiers. Of the 111Million viewers, I was one of several cheering on my Steelers (yes I said it!),  hoping and silently praying for a victorious conclusion to a shaky start.

Along with the atypical heightened excitement during the Super Bowl weekend, cities hosting the Big Game often experience an exponential boost in local economy from temporary visitors’ increased consumer spending.

There is another activity that often goes unheard off, yet contributes to the cities’ coffers. I had no knowledge till I happen to land on MSNBC’s “Trafficked: Slavery in America“. There is a new kind of resurgence of slavery in America – Sex Trafficking. The Super Bowl actually is a magnet for its propagation. Check out the I’m Not Buying It campaign that is raising awareness of the trafficking of America’s children. It is shocking to think that there are minors in the mix of Traffick 911’s estimated 15,000 sex-workers in Dallas.  

Want more information or wondering how you can help? Please visit Not For Sale: End Human Trafficking and Slavery.

Preserve innocence and help children be just that…children…

Children Laughing – Benin
 

He said what?!?…The other side weighs in! January 29, 2011

If you search in facebook African Girl Development you will land on the page I have been managing since the beginning of 2011 – African Girl Development in the U.S. Everyday I pose thought provoking questions geared towards one of the following themes:  the African woman’s identity, engaging the youth in African Affairs, and my current initiatives to empower young African ladies.

One of the discussion topics in my kitchen was “Definition of an African Woman”. Who is an African Woman? What comes to mind when you hear these words?

Here is the response from an African brother:

“What comes to mind is a very hardworking woman, with a very powerful caring gentle spirit for the family. My mind sees a woman who sacrifices much for her family and the society, unfortunately with very little say in the happenings of her environment, almost totally controlled by reasonable and sometimes unreasonable men. Despite their work, courage, intuitive common sense, some African cultures still prevent them from going to universities, sell and force them into marriages, and do not acknowledge any reasoning and opinions from females about family and societal development.

What comes to mind is a strong woman with little to no say in world issues.”

What is your response? Do you agree or disagree? What has been your experience? Have we acquiesced with this popular definition or is  it changing?

Who am I?

 

The Not so Little voice within January 28, 2011

Filed under: Leadership,Reflections — Sharon Asonganyi @ 11:34 pm
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When the world sets its eyes on Africa…Will she be ready? How are we equipping our youth both in the Diaspora and Africa to understand the issues of our continent. How do we teach them to always be innovative as they seek solutions?…these are just a few of many daily haunting questions. As I think about my talents and take inventory, the purpose is always ‘how best to use them for the greater good’. I beseech you to do the same and identify areas in which you can engage. For as the saying goes “Tomorrow waits for no (wo)man”. The question is not ‘What can you do?’, but ‘What will you do within your sphere of influence?’…