Thanks for joining me!
Miracles happen all the time. We’re here, aren’t we?”-Marilyn NelsonSomehow, miraculously, or intentionally we are here. We all have a unique story to tell because each of us accumulate an endless number of experiences. The majority of our experiences we cannot recall but the ones we preserve are meaningful, impactful, and at times, life changing. My personal life story is my subjective narrative that consists of events to which I recount as momentous.
My story began in 1995. My mother, a Senegalese woman who was 9 months pregnant at the time, traveled alone to Manhattan, NY from Dakar, Senegal in hopes of delivering her new-born baby girl in a couple of weeks. Now I assume, that airport travel laws & regulations would have given her a tough time in 2018 for traveling 9 months pregnant without a doctor’s note, but this Senegalese woman was undaunted. A couple of weeks after her arrival in America, she delivered a healthy baby girl. A few months after my birth, my mother and I traveled back to west Africa where I spent the first six years of life. I grew up in what I like to call a “diverse African household”. My father is from the Ivory Coast, and my mother is from Senegal. Although both countries are located in West Africa, they each hold different values and cultures.
Having my first understanding of the world through the lenses of a foreign country has forever humbled my being. It has done many things for me, one being granting me the capacity to learn multiple languages. I am fluent in French, which is my first language, Wolof, which is the most spoken ethnic language in Senegal. Arabic, which I use to read and write the Qur’an, and English. The importance of communication to me is irrefutable. It has enabled me to communicate with groups of people from various ethnic backgrounds and to connect with new people. Additionally, understanding the world through the lenses of a foreign country has enabled me to step outside of my comfort zone. For some, being in a new place with people who hold different values and go about life differently from them can be threatening. I for one, try to connect with people despite our differences which may ultimately enable us to embrace our discomforts.
My family and I moved to North Carolina Summer of 2001. It was at age 7 I understood for the first time, the highs and lows that life can yield. I recall 7-year-old me thinking to myself, “why are we here?” I longed for those warm days in the Ivory Coast and I was experiencing major culture shock. I faced challenges such as a language barrier as I did not yet speak English, and I had difficulty assimilating to American culture. During this tough time, my father abandoned my family six months after our arrival to America. It was through this life experience my mother became the perfect emulation of a human being. Single moms will always have my highest honor because of the woman my mother became during this tough time. I witnessed her work 3 jobs, raise 5 children with no financial support, and cook dinner every night all while learning English and adapting to american culture. She did not stop until she was proud.
My story does not end here.
“We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow” – B.J Neblett