Going for Gold…Diaspora in Higher Education.

 

 

Being a Diaspora presents a host of challenges but also gives a  sense of determination to make it in the land of dreams where all is possible. It is no surprise then that according to a resent survey released in August 2012 by the US Department of Education, 23% of all undergraduate enrollment in 2007-2008 consisted of immigrants or children of immigrants.

 

Going for Gold means going for the best there is. Members of the Diaspora knows that only hard work and determination can get you there. In the current economic times where joblessness and budget shortfalls reign supreme, it is ever more important to get the right skills that will net you the right job. In the same survey, it was clear that income level of parents did not seem to significantly influence rate of attendance. This means if you are determined to go to school, you can go and lack of income should not be a deterrent to attendance. Taking advantage of financial aid, grants and scholarships have helped get diaspora to achieve their goals.

Being a diaspora means you understand the challenges that led to your being here in the first place and being willing to put in the work to get to gold.

 

 

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Celebrate Your Otherness

African Americans Allowed to Vote

The word Diaspora comes from a Greek word that means to “sow or scatter seeds.” A group of Diaspora has the special characteristic of attempting to preserve their culture and religious beliefs.

It’s this “otherness” within us that constantly attempts to recreate experiences validating pieces of ourselves carried from the past.  When I traverse North Carolina experiencing different cultural events I can’t help but marvel at the rich tapestry of varying cultural experiences responsible for the unique qualities making up North Carolina.

The amazing experience of seeing the Black Mambazo group in Clayton,NC  was surreal at best. Here was lil O’l me,  far away from my birth country experiencing a performance that was a symbol of hope. The group started spreading  the message of love when apartheid was the order of the day in South Africa. Now 52 years later and a bunch of Grammy awards  under their belt, the group still continues delivering  beaming smiles, lively songs interspersed with gravity defying leaps left everyone awash with gratitude at this once in a lifetime experiences.

Black Mambazo In Clayton, NC

An Immigrant’s Allegory of Running

The morning chill threatens to frost my lungs as I cut a  steady path through the tree line. Defiantly, I ignore the plea from my feet as they will themselves to stop.  I am reminded of how many challenges I have had to overcome to be where I am today. Like when I left my birth country 12 years ago  to go to school and didn’t know what I would find on the other side of the world. How I had to remind myself all would be well even if I didn’t know when I would see my parents next.

kenyans. beating ass.

No that's not me.. Its what I wish I looked like when I run

Looking around when I run, I am reminded I am just a piece in the puzzle of the big picture of life.  Awed by the raw beauty of tall pines towering over me, I find myself marveling at just how small I am and how much I really don’t have control over things. I know as I run that there is a bigger hand at work.

The pitter patter of my rubber soles as they have a personal conversation with the paved trail drum a rhythm on the blacktop. The ebb and flow of the rhythm is a direct reflection of the highs and lows of my life. Times when I have been pleased with how things are going like when I finally went back to see my parents after 10 years and lows like when I lost my job or that late night..uhh…. ‘conversation’ I once had with the boys in blue.

Excruciating pain from complaining muscles cut through my senses and for a moment all I can do is be with the pain until it is gone. Just like I had to somehow exist within the uncertainty that is life as an immigrant. When I didn’t know how I would pay for my rent, or school fees. When the fast talking accents of the deep south seemed to spew out a garbled array of sound that passed for English. As I forced my tongue to lighten and my mouth to ‘enunciate’ so I could be heard.  Struggling at first, and accepting finally that the different me would ultimately have to do. In the pain of running, I am reminded every time- that everything passes. Instead of resisting, I embrace it. I know it’s here for a while and it too shall pass. So I push on and after a while it’s gone and I am back to the place when I began, where I was hopeful yet uncertain. I am back to the beginning when I was full of dreams and I am convinced that I will continue trying and pushing on.

When I run, I am reminded of how human I am. It’s my way of getting in touch with my weaknesses and my strengths. Through running, I am reminded that I am on a journey. I am only a small piece of a bigger picture. That as everything comes to pass, I too will be gone one day and I can only participate as much or as little as I can.

 

Doing Good for Others by Doing Good for Yourself

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...

Mahatma Gandhi led India towards receiving Independence from Britain through peaceful protests

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Mahatma Gandhi

 

I moved to North Carolina in the summer. Once settled,  my mission was to  get involved in the community. I had done some volunteer work in Minneapolis and experienced the intrinsic value of getting up and being involved (albeit in a small way) in affecting change in the community. Once in North Carolina, I pulled up a list of non-profits in the area. A deliberate investigation into the philosophies of each of the non-profits educated me in the needs of the community and re-affirmed causes that I would like to get involved in.

Restorative Justice, Reentry efforts  are two such topics. Topics that address the needs of the Diaspora (and hence the birth of this blog). Women’s advocacy issues are also of interest to me. So many great causes, and little  o’l me. I knew I had to pick one and so I did.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” Mahatma Gandhi

 

I picked Restorative Justice. Crime has a way of indiscriminately affecting not just the individual but the family (women included) and the community at large. This is how I ended up at the doorstep of Community Success Initiative in Raleigh. It was not normal for someone to call out of the blue to volunteer because when I first called, the receptionist said they didn’t think there was anything they had for me to do there. I insisted that I be put through to the President of the organization and was not a little  surprised when I was. A short time later I found myself starting the journey towards volunteering.

Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.” Mahatma Gandhi

Someone once said that, most of us want to do good but we have no clear  idea how to get started. Getting started begins with just going somewhere and actually doing good. Thinking about doing good eats up the time you could actually be out there doing it.

In the Spirit of Doing Good, I have included a brochure to an event that I intend to go to and possibly blog about later. Proceeds from this event will be used by organizations in Raleigh to continue to help the community such as the youth.  See you there.

 

Do Good by Doing Some Good for Yourself

Dare to make a Difference! Get Inspired by the likes of Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai

The Great Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai was undoubtedly a great person. Her activism in saving the environment was underscored by her earning a Nobel Laureate, making her the first African woman to hold that honor. Distinguishing herself, she established an unprecedented culture of respect for the environment and became an activist for women’s issues.  Her passing leaves a deep gaping void that one can’t help but wonder whether it will be filled by anyone?

Will Mathai’s passing  give rise to other passionate individuals who will champion causes that are for the good of all? Or will the flurry of R.I.P messages, videos, status updates all give way to the next big newsworthy item?

The social networking phenomenon has given rise to the age of the pseudo caring generation. Every time something takes place, a flurry of thought provoking status and tweets rain down the walls of the post driven social forums. Deep introspective quotes and messages, designed to show how reflective people are, are the norm.  And once one is given the thumbs up or acknowledged for their updates, very rarely will there be a follow up on how one has actually done something that is inspired by the likes of Wangari Maathai.

Will the passing of the likes of Wangari Maathai really give rise to action driven individuals who will go beyond self-aggrandizement?  Or will social media continue to offer the protection of anonymity  for people who in reality just go about the daily routines of their lives once they have expressed their shock over her passing?

People like Wangari Maathai and other greats, didn’t need social media to make a difference. They never posted a tweet or face book update to show what they cared for. Wangari Maathai and other like her just got up and took action.  Caring for a cause that means something to you and taking the necessary steps to do something about it, is what makes a difference. Further still, it doesn’t matter how many people know about it. Simply doing it for the good it brings to the world is reward enough.

So I say unto you, oh avid face book status people and tweeterers, enough with the dramatic attestations of how much you will miss Wangari’s work. Get up and do something that you really care about and which will make this world a better place. Perhaps it’s as simple as just going over to your neighbor and giving her/him a hand. No one has to know about it. And once you do that thing that makes a difference, resist with all your might the overwhelming urge to tweet or update your status about it. Just keep doing it for the simple pleasure of making a difference in the world.