Here I was in a new country, a new school, a new culture, and a new experience; there was nothing to lose. It was one thing to be going to college and it was another thing to be in a different continent altogether. I could be anything or anyone I wanted to be: the options were limitless.
Orientation began, and I was suddenly surrounded by a multitude of Caucasian American high school graduates who didn’t know me, didn’t want to know me, and as far as I was concerned didn’t care about me. But for those who took an interest in this black girl would approach me with the same question “Where are you from?” The first time I answered keenly “Nairobi”, but no one had an idea where that was, so the second time I answered “Kenya”, but again no one knew where that was. I finally resulted in answering the repeated question in an uninterested monotone “Africa”.
And that is where the conversation would end.
If I hadn’t given it away by saying I was from the HIV invested, poverty-stricken, primitive continent of “Africa” no one would have guessed that I was an international student. I wear American clothes and I converse comfortably in an American accent and many people from a first impression could mistake me for a mid western African-American (and many people thought I was). If I had played along with that assumption I wonder where I would be now. I would have been inaugurated into the social circles of mid-western freshmen: attending football games on weekends, going to the movies on Saturday night, the occasional sleepovers, and of course having a designated seat in the cafeteria with my Midwestern clique. But I didn’t. I chose not to.
I now know that I made the right choice. I definitely feel more confident about being myself because I am more proud of my culture and nationality. I have many American friends who accept me as the person I am because they are the ones who persisted after the conversation ended. We go to football games, movies, sleepovers, and sit together in the cafeteria.
It’s easier being me.