threads of our fabric

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

Values and ideals: I am… December 5, 2011

Can one really complete this sentence?…I feel that it’s one of the sweet puzzling mysteries of life. To be honest, who I am is quite fluid and dynamic. It seems like every new life stage often brings new transitions and definitions of who I am. I remember when I graduated college, oh wow…I was such an optimistic then, believing that anything is possible, life had finally just begun! My personality then or the “Who I am…” reflected this train of thought, extremely bubbly, lively, and fun. One thing was unquestionably sure I was still naïve with navigating the new challenges of this transition period. Especially having to work and attend graduate school full time, while trying to somehow have a social life. Such is life, you live and learn but having an internal compass of values and identity definitely helps with orienting one towards making right the choices in life.

This week’s discussion topic on our Facebook page – African Girl Development in the U.S. (hyperlink) – was:

How do you think our African values can be used as a means of nurturing and prodding one another towards fulfilling our dreams/passions?…What are your thoughts?

As usual, the reflections were thought-full and thought-provoking. I do enjoy reading particularly from our African brothers. You cannot have complete and informative gender development conversations without having both sides represented at the discussion table. Overall the main themes that emerged throughout this past week included:

  • Culture equips an individual with the values that enables s/he to function and contribute in society
  • Identity or self-knowledge is crucial to succeed in unfamiliar surroundings
  • Values such as respect, hardwork, and determination will always transcend cultural boundaries and enable one to thrive in new environments

My take on this week’s topic is that when we (African sisters) recognize and encourage the strengths and positive traits in each other, that simple act can be a strong boost towards success. We can truly be our sister’s keeper because we share commonalities of a cultural heritage with very strong long-established traditions, beliefs, and values. When we choose to see the beautiful qualities that make each African sister unique, I believe therein lies the secret of complete Self acceptance. Additionally, I feel it is for our best interest to embrace our unique cultural values because when we reject them, we reject a fundamental part of who we are.

When I am fully me and you are fully you, together WE ARE…

Mirrored reflections of perfection, for I recognize that I cannot be unless YOU ARE…

Completely consumed and present in being, So therefore I AM…

Oh what a vision, unstoppable, strong, but above all full of potential being realized.

 

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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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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)…

 

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

 

Opening of LeThee’Ma (Fireplace) February 13, 2011

It is with profound joy for me to introduce and welcome you to LeThee’ma or my fireplace. Many of my favorite childhood memories were night-times in the village, sitting around the fireplace for story telling, conversations, and amazing food! It is with this same spirit that I invite you to join fellow African sisters around LeThee’ma,

…Together we can feed minds, spirits, and hearts…

♥ Week 1 Discussion: First Impression Series – Questions♥

 

 

The Kitchen February 12, 2011

Filed under: Reflections — Sharon Asonganyi @ 8:38 pm
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One thing that is central to my culture is cooking. Not just the act of skillfully putting together ingredients and composing a delicacy that utterly tickles the pallet…but what goes on with all those involved. For example, today, Grandma (Big mami or Ma The) woke up and made breakfast for the kids who typically rise with the dawning of the sun. This is a blessing to the 9 to 5’ers of the week who can get some extra hours of rest. Once my aunt and I woke up, the day’s activities really began. Frying of fish, cooking of egusi soup to be accompanied by water fufu. Everyone always has a task which is assigned by the eldest in the kitchen – Ma The.

As the dishes were being tended to with our hands, our hearts and voices shared news from the week, memories from home (Cameroon), and offered solutions to the myriad of personal challenges in our lives.

Cooking is a life-giving force from the physical nourishment it provides to the spiritual bond of generational sisterhood. In the kitchen sorrows and joys are shared, juicy gossip is exchanged, but most importantly values and tradition is transferred. For example, in today’s story – respect and teamwork.