By Joy Moton | Staff Writer
Students gathered in the Bobo Spiritual Life Center for a Cross-Cultural Engagement dinner with the African Student Association on Tuesday evening. Students ate a traditional Ethiopian dinner as a panel of three students from various parts of Africa discussed their experiences growing up in America as people of African descent.
Alexandria, La., senior Mima Fondong, president of the African Student Association, is originally from Cameroon and said it was hard for her parents to understand what she went through growing up in a new country because although they had been young once, they did not experience the struggle of growing up in America.
She said that while other people live in large cities where there were subcultures of people from Africa, she lived in a small town where she only met one or two people from other countries. She tried to mask her culture because she did not have anyone to relate to, she said.
“That was kind of hard, but being at Baylor and having subcultures here definitely helped me to embrace my culture and be proud of it,” Fondong said.
Little Elm senior Serra John said she grew up in a very traditional household. She said she had a tough time finding a balance because it took her a long time to learn English. Having to learn to assimilate into the American lifestyle was difficult, but she said her culture has remained a strong part of who she is.
She explained that she loves attending traditional weddings, eating her mother’s cooking, not having to speak English at home, dressing up in traditional clothes and seeing her family.
“I absolutely love everything about my culture. When I go home I can truly be myself,” John said.
Cypress, Calif., sophomore Onyinyechi Ogomaka is an only child, and she said it is strange as a person of Nigerian descent. She learned about her Nigerian culture from the Igbo Catholic Church, while she learned about American culture from going to school every day.
“I feel like growing up, I had the best of both worlds. I still had my American culture, and I still had my Nigerian culture. My parents did a good job of not secluding me from one culture,” Ogomaka said.
This was the final Cross-Cultural Engagement dinner of the semester. The Bobo Spiritual Life Center will host a story slam on April 25 at 6 p.m. for students who are interested in sharing or reading poetry of their choice. Students who are interested in this opportunity can email Caitlin_Childers@baylor.edu.