1. Therefore, many consider me as one of

1. MY VALUES AND BELIEFS

In
these few days, the opportunity to look back to re-assess the events that have
shaped my life has been well exploited. During the “where do you feel home”
discussion in Colonization and its impact on Indigenous Peoples’ Health &
Healing course, a unique experience was emotionally comfortable enough to look
back at my life. Through our discussions, re-evaluation of numerous occurrences
that were often concealed and unpleasant to face was made possible. Things that
were never considered as real issues but then having a second thought about
them led to several rhetorical questions.

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Just like other
individuals, my personal principles, views and attitudes have contributed to my
self-development throughout the course of my life. Personal past events,
experiences, and failures in life have all played significant roles in
contributing to my current state and perspective from which my immediate
environment and the world at large are viewed. In my life course, I have often
worked with vulnerable people and also encountered people who may have a
lifestyle considered as being different or unacceptable by the mainstream
society. However, one of my greatest error towards this people is the biases
that I have had towards them through my principles, beliefs and opinions.

 

The passion to
positively impact people with my skills and abilities has always been my dream. As a child, I
remember how I used to help people who were in need. I always tried to be kind
to them even when their behaviors were different towards me. I was born in Accra, Ghana, considered as a land rich in excellence, yet unfortunately, for many
of the people living there it is also a land where poverty is a way of life. Therefore, many consider me as one of the few lucky ones who has never had to suffer the
pain of an empty stomach or had to struggle to make a living off the land with
little or no education to back up their choices. Still
the question I always ask my self is; what is a man without culture? Am I
culture-less? I sometimes wonder how my life would have been if I had grown up
in one place. Will it have been different or same as it is now? How would it
have been like to live in the village, where I had to go to the farm and hear
the birds or even walk on the streets of Accra and play in the sand with
friends who have known me since nursery school.

 

At times, I
dislike the fact that I have to dig within me to provide complicated response
when I am asked simple questions like who you are. However, I am glad for the
opportunities and experiences that I have had which often makes me feel like a
citizen of the world. The fact that I have lived in different places and
experienced different cultures has given me a story to tell in different way as
I chose. The feeling of wearing different mask and the fact that I choose to be
whoever I want to be wherever I go has thought me that being rootless doesn’t
mean I don’t belong to a place rather it means I choose to belong to many
places as I please! All this experience has been exhausting but I am certain
about a particular thing which is; no matter how old I grow, I know I will
always question my roots at different point in time. Regardless all the
challenges I have gone through, one thing remains true and that is the fact
that all these experiences have been valuable to my life.

 

 

 

2. IDENTITY CRISES

As a Ghanaian born
European bred, coming to Canada as a student has been a dream of mine since
high school days. This is because I have always seen Canada as the “Perfect
Heaven” on earth. A place where lots of people are willing to migrate without
thinking twice. Trust me, if someone had ever told me there was history of
Colonialism in Canada, I wouldn’t have believed it. Every expatriate deals
with culture shock at one point in time but be certain when I say
that mine was devastating!

All
these points comes along with a story, I moved to Italy somewhere around 7
years of age from Ghana (West-Africa) to join my parents. A decision I didn’t
participate to realize. My initial experiences in Italy was quite positive and
during my whole time there, I didn’t realize I suffered from an identity
crisis, but I knew I had become too disconnected from my culture, homeland and
community.  My identity crises began when
I wanted to discover the reason driving lots of people to cross the Mediterranean
sea to Europe. A journey whereby people put their lives at risk as they go on a
boat journey in search of what they think would be a better and easier living.
This curiosity pushed me to work as a volunteer in one of the refugee camps in
Brescia(Italy) where many of these refugees started asking me if I had an idea
about my culture. This at first wasn’t bothering me but as time passed by, I
realized I needed to discover myself and give myself an identity. 

From
that moment on-wards, I have always had issue when I am asked the question
“where are you from”. This question always panics me since it makes me wonder
whether the question refers to my nationality, where I was born, my current
place of stay or where my family lives. This
is a question I consider the most nail-biting and anxiety-inducing which
usually requires an in-depth explanation of my life story. The explanation gets
more complicated when you have lived in 6 different countries consisting of 3
different continents.  The concept of
home and giving a definition to it becomes one of the most difficult questions
I hardly find an answer to. The definition people give to it doesn’t mean the
same thing to me.

With all these
years spent outside my home country and my inability to fit into all these
countries that hosted me is a sensation which gives me the ideology that I fit
everywhere and nowhere.

3. CANADA: MY WAKE-UP CALL

Just
as many people, I have my biases, and this may be due to the fact that I often
see things from one perspective. Indeed, coming to Canada has been my wake-up
call. Prior to my arrival, I imagined it as the perfect place, as I always say
the clean version of the United States of America. The land without faults
where there will be no homeless living on the street, but my after-arrival
discovery is what made the difference. Colonialism, reserve schools, stigma and
racism are all things I reserved for the apartheid event in South Africa and
Namibia. Notwithstanding, the things I have discovered in these five months of
stay in Canada enabled me to understand that biases do not only occur when
conducting a research study rather our thinking can also be influenced by them.
This systematic error in my way of thinking has completely shaped me. It has
provided me a different worldview of life. Prior to my arrival to Canada, I had
never heard of the word “Indigenous” or “Aboriginal” which as at now I can’t
really tell the difference unless with the help of google. The history of the
Indigenous people of Canada, their cultural belief, cultural diversity and
survival has enlarged my way of thinking. It has shown me that things are often
different from the way we see it and at times making an argument from one
direction can be a symbol of real ignorance.

This
journey has been my greatest wake up call and I deeply wish a lot of people can
also come to realize that there are different realities outside. I have
developed a strong question which I might never be able to find answers to that
is; Do the people who cross the Mediterranean sea to Europe have my same
ideology of a perfect Europe? I guess not. However, this is a question I might
never get answer from.

I
have always had the idea of holding a multi-dimensional worldview since I have
spent significant part of my life in different countries which I presumed was
enough. I thought that reading about the two world wars, learning to be tolerant,
adaptable and flexible were skills that could take me everywhere. However, it
seems apparent that moving from one country to another, knowing a part of the
world history isn’t good enough to reduce the biases and misconception I have.
As my metaphor says, the world is a classroom and we are life-long students
until we develop a critical tool to assess and explore it, we will always remain
ignorant.

 This
whole experience has proved to me that we never know what the true meaning of
“discovering ourselves” means until we face a shock. In my case, I
call it the Canadian wake-up call.

 

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