threads of our fabric

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

What have we been up to recently? March 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sharon Asonganyi @ 11:12 pm
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Well I’m glad you asked that question…We have been busy bees connecting with communities serving African immigrants to share our video stories and learn how they engage these young women in their communities. Here is one exciting example of how Threads of Our Fabric Project is sparking amazing conversations on college campuses:

Time: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Location: Cartoon Room of the Ohio Union

As part of the Threads of Our Fabric Project, the Multicultural Center, Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Society of Sisters proudly present “A Gathering at Lethee’Ma – Kitchen Fireplace.”

This interactive video, based on a conversation facilitated by Sharon Asonganyi, founder and director of the Threads of Our Fabric Project, features an organization whose mission is to engage and empower young, first and second generation African women through multimedia in their new communities. The evening’s dialogue will center on the sociocultural adjustment issues that are unique for this distinct group of African women. Intimate video stories of joys, trial and successes will be used to illustrate shared experiences and the sociocultural influences on an emerging population developing a new perspective in the fabric of American society. Welcome to Lethee’Ma!!!

Reception and Meet and Greet at 6:00pm; Event begins at 7:00pm-9:00pm.

This event is part of United Black World Month 2012. For more information about United Black World Month, please contact Katherine Betts at bett.128@osu.edu or 614-688-8449. Or, visit the Multicultural Center website at http://www.mcc.osu.edu

For more information about the project: http://www.threadsofourfabric.wordpress.com

Katherine Betts
Multicultural Center
betts.128@osu.edu
614-688-8449

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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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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?

 

What is on my mind today?… Women + Girls + Africa June 5, 2011

Blooming AfricaIs change truly change when it is the product of an organic growth process? When progressing through a transition is necessary, I am always puzzled by people who resist it. Is not part of life growth and change?  If one refuses to be part of the process, then I believe life becomes passive living. I think life would be quite boring. Life can be an evolution towards a greater self. We learn and integrate new experiences into our perceptions and understanding. My view of Africa’s potential parallels this same thought structure – a tabula rasa or blank slate – endless immense opportunities.

 Every time I have conversations with amazing African kinfolk I redouble my efforts on the Threads of Our Fabric Project. The TOF Project enables and empowers African women and girls to share their culture, identity, and unique selves through media. There has been an increase in the use of multimedia to present realistic solutions and raise awareness about various societal issues. USAID, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with an infographic on “Why invest in women?” a topic that is forever near and dear to my heart.  I really enjoyed the graphic representation of some of the hard truths in women and girl’s lives. It saddens my heart when I see others in more developed countries unconcerned about some of these issues affecting their peers worldwide.

Please take a moment, not more than 5-10mins to go through this infographic and may it stir you within to pick a cause greater than you that you can champion. There are many lives dependent on you to support them and ensure their future. Time, money, and skills…pick one and invest in a woman or girl. Bring a welcomed positive change in the lives of women and girls who are desperately in need of something different, something other than the status quo.

USAID 50th Anniversary: Why Invest in Women?

 

What about the youth?… May 30, 2011

Never have I been more certain of the critical importance of the voices of young people in society than yesterday…I had the privilege of presenting the Threads of Our Fabric Project at the annual Lebialem Cultural Development Association (LECDA). The theme “3C Convention” (Culture, Committment, and Construction) complemented my project quite nicely. My project focuses on examining the unique attributes of the African Woman and showcasing all her wonderful qualities with world. Along the way changing the representation of her image and encouraging young emerging African women to *Dream*Create*Live*Inspire*

In many parts of the world, the voices of youth, particularly girls, are continually silenced. To most being young is often associated with rebelliousness, inexperience, and simply a happy-go-lucky carefree unreliable character. I believe that all these supposedly negative attributions are the trademark beauty and blessing of being a young person. For example, rebelliousness can endow a person with a daring spirit and a creative outside of the box thinking. Such qualities are useful in situations where the status quo is a false substitute for the desire to be part of a great story… The longing to be part of something grander than self…

I remember quite vividly my teenage years; rollercoaster emotions, casual attitude towards everything, and trapped in a perpetual war with a good number of adults who I believed were always meddling in my affairs. As a teen the yearning to be an adult was an all consuming maybe borderline obsessed wish…I saw freedom from the influence of parents, independence and employment. To me being an adult was like heaven. Now as I reflect on those years, there was a critical element that significantly provided a buffer against many negative influences…a few adults who believed in my potential and always saw the best in me.

Throughout the 3C convention, I kept thinking “What about the youth?“…I hope that some of the information I provided during my presentation will offer some guidance as LECDA develops more youth-friendly and youth-involved programs. From focus groups with African Immigrant Youth, most of them thrive in an environment that encourages creativity and utilizes interactive engagement. Many adults shy from working with young people, I don’t blame them…it’s a thankless, challenging, nerve-wrecking, frustrating, unpredictable, intense task…but the most rewarding experience in one’s lifetime ! The more adults invest time, energy, and love in the lives of young people…the higher likelihood that the reward will be phenomenal…It’s been proven true countless times over…How do I know?…I am walking proof.    

Reflection: How can one nurture a love for culture, tradition, and heritage in youth aside from creative arts?

 

 

Shout out to Kenya May 23, 2011

Filed under: Community,Reflections — Sharon Asonganyi @ 5:00 pm
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Grace Kerongo - Hot Secrets

I absolutely “heart” the new world of web 2.0, enabling people connect on similar interests and form lifetime friendships without leaving the comforts of home. The internet opens one to the excitement and newness of different parts of the world, but how we use it depends on us…Today, I am giving a SHOUT OUT to an amazing, prolific, and entertaining blogger in Nairobi, Kenya – Ms Grace Kerongo.

Thank you for your support of the Threads of Our Fabric Project when it was just ideas wrapped in a simple survey – Hot Secrets: FOR THE STRONG AFRICAN WOMAN IN THE DIASPORA. Continue dishing out all the latest in gossip, entertainment, and news in Kenya!

As I count down to the 1-year anniversary of the Project (July 1, 2010), I am overjoyed, hopeful, and determined to bring forth the vision to life.

 

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.