Africans Of New York (Priscilla)

Being born here, do you consider yourself African?
If you had asked me couple of years ago, I would say no. I was not at a point in my life where I wanted to embrace my African culture as disappointing as that seems. I would love some things about the culture, but not fully want to immerse myself into it. Currently, with my Peace Corps experience race, ethnicity, and culture has been immensely heightened for me. Do not get me wrong though; when people asked me where I am from I would say that I am Ghanaian- American. But, I do not really think I knew what that meant. I just did not like saying I was just black or something. I now wish I was born in Africa or had spent some time in Ghana specifically during my younger years. It is never too late though. I am more aware now and I want to consciously continue embracing my culture as much as I can now. I am actually planning a trip to go back to Ghana in December so we will see how that goes.

You mentioned you worked with the Peace Corps. Where have you been, and how have it affected you as person?
My Peace Corps service is posted in South Africa. That is a very broad and general question. There have been some great moments and some undignified moments. I have always wanted to help people. That is just the type of person I am. It has emphasized that more than ever. I have also wanted to travel and I took this opportunity to do so. So it has also shown me that if I say I am going to do something, then surely I will do. It has boosted my self-confidence actually. I feel so accomplished that I attained a dream of mine and so many people have extended their well wishes for me letting me know how proud they were about me.

How would you compare life in the states, to life in South Africa?
Ahh, I would say I somewhat rather be in South Africa than America. Life in the states is very “glamorized”. What I mean by this is, everything seems to be done with an aesthetic purpose. Life in the states seems very indulgent and too hedonistic. Life in South Africa is very slow paced and I feel that is better for me. The super quick-paced lifestyle just drives me crazy. I feel like I cannot think or breathe. America is very individualistic and to each their own. South Africa has this communal or “ubuntu” as they refer to lifestyle. Each one, teach one. I was in the village and although it took me some time to get use to the rural lifestyle; after adjustment period, I was like the life I want to live needs to be minimal and simplistic. I do not think America is minimalistic or simplistic at all. Of course, I am not implying that I want to live in the rural area but it has taught me that I do not need all these excessive amenities. Less is more.

Were there any culture shocks?
Definitely, there was. I expected to be in a rural area in which we were, but once I stayed with host family, it became surreal. There were so many flies everywhere, on the furniture, even on the food and they were still eating with no care in the world. Using the latrine was very hard for me; it actually took me two weeks before I actually used it. I remember hoping that they would have Wi-Fi and I should have realized then that I was not in America anymore and I should quickly displace my entitlement of wireless internet everywhere. But at the end of the stay, I cherished spending time with my host family. Another culture shock, there were black people on TV commercials, TV shows, news were all occupied with black bodies, faces, people. It was so uplifting to me. We only have BET and maybe an hour of ShowTime of a TV networks, but it is not the same. That for me was amazing. It felt good.

What advice would you give any individuals looking to travel to Africa for the first time?
Have no expectations. Africans are very hospitable and friendly. So there will be many conversations and many offers for food or nice gestures. There is so much more, but these are the things that come immediately to me.