Zahra Abdela is 14-year old student from Khartoum in the Sudan of Africa. Zahra moved to Buffalo one year ago and has already taken a leadership role as a standout student and reporter for the International News. Her dream is to one day be a doctor. To improve her English she studies the dictionary and practices with her cousins who have lived in Buffalo for a longer period of time.
For my second interview, I spoke with Temesgen Hagos, a native of Eritrea who now lives in Winnipeg, Canada.
Q: Can you tell me about you?
A: I was a school teacher for ten years. Being a teacher is very important for the development of a country. Every profession is the result of a teacher. A teacher is a father of all professions. A good teacher changes the society for better. As a teacher, I would like to encourage the student to be eager to learn, to be a hard worker, to be respectful to others, and to love others like they love themselves. I am a man of truth, honesty, and I love other human beings. I focus on cultivating a good character.
Q: Temesgen, what have you struggled with in Winnipeg?
A: I have struggled with the culture shock.
Q: Describe your experience with culture shock. What shocked you? How was it different from Eritrea?
A: When I say a culture shock, I mean that the new culture is different from our culture back home. For example, in the bus in Eritrea we give a seat to our elders as a sign of respecting them. Here, if I give my seat up just because someone is older, they do not feel good.
Q: Why did you leave your country?
A: I left my country to search for freedom. In my country there is no freedom of religion, freedom of movement, freedom of expression. The government is communist.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: I enjoy reading and I like different kinds of book, but my favorite book is bible. Other books give information, but the Bible transforms me.
Q: Do you feel accepted in Winnipeg?
A: I feel accepted to some extent in Winnipeg. People sometimes show racism for my blackness.
Q: Please describe this racism. What has happened?
A: First of all, racism is a veil and a narrow kindness – narrow-minded people are racist. Everywhere there is racism. However, when I see a very educated society show racism based on your colour…what can I say, I see racism in every form from the office to the street. For instance, some bus drivers do not want to see you even when you go inside the bus. When I was a little boy I was shepherding sheep. I never saw the white sheep fight against the black sheep just because it is black. As long as it is a sheep, they have no problem to join and live together. Racism makes you less than a sheep. They don’t even know how comfortable I am with my black skin and how good I feel having it.
Q: Describe the most difficult moment you had adjusting to the new culture?
A: I am very flexible so I have not had a difficult time adjusting to the new culture. I am selective about the new culture – I don’t take it all. I take what is good and constructive and educational. But I respect everyone’s culture as long as it is peaceful.
Q: What can you tell me about the history of your country?
A: As any nation, we have our own history. Our history is mostly about struggling and dictator leadership. It is about winning freedom and struggling to be a strong country in economics, politics and diplomacy.