Hello hello hello. Today I thought I would share with you an article that I wrote a while back with the intention of getting myself featured on an African immigrant newsletter. The editor’s of the newsletter were way too slow in contacting me and I thought that this article has some insights that should be shared anyway. I know not many of you are in the situation described below (i.e. parents of immigrant kids or people here with family) BUT hopefuly you can still pick up a little something, something from it. B blesd, Mwangi
I am truly blessed to be here with my nuclear family. I look around at a lot of my peers who didn’t have the privilege of coming with their families and am truly thankful. However, as with everything in life, my being here with my parents presents it’s own unique challenges.
Fortunately for you, the conflict that is currently taking place in my household is a great tool of education and insight into not only the differences in how the older and younger immigrants think, but also possible solutions as we move forward as a community.
I went to college twice. I first went to acquire a Bachelor of Business at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. I share my life story on my blog so I won’t go into too much depth, but needless to say I dropped out.
You see, I see opportunity everywhere. I have come from a place where even with my endless optimism, I must admit that the opportunities are very limited. Landing in Australia, it becomes very clear to a bright-eyed fellow such as myself that this land is clearly flowing with milk and honey if you can serenade the cows or attract the bees.
“My resourcefulness, my wits, my cunning, the Dole, Centrelink, my seven years of HECS funding, my friends, my family, free education via public libraries, free Internet access, free funding for small businesses if I have a good plan, homeless shelters, the Salvation army, various Australian charities and so on and so on and so on………”
You should never forget why you brought us here. You brought us here because you wanted to leave a place where the possibilities were limited and bring us to a place where we could do, be and have so much more.
So please, allow us to do that. Don’t let your Africa-specific fears dictate the way you guide and mentor me as I navigate this broad, vast land that is Australia. Allow me to go off the beaten path, knowing that there is a chance that I may fail. However, should I succeed, I just may create a brand new path that millions of African children will one way dance through.
I am still a college dropout. Every single day my mother still tries to implore me to go back to college and “get real papers so I can get a real job.” But, remember if I had heeded her advice, I wouldn’t have written this article where I implore you to please support your children as they experiment with paths you are too scared to venture.
Since the folks at AfricanOz (the newsletter that I still hope will publish this article) have been gracious enough to give me this platform to share with you, I feel discontent simply leaving you with an ambiguous story that has numerous interpretations. So below I share 4 concrete tips for parenting an immigrant child from someone who is currently being parented
1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings: I think this is quite possibly the most important tip I will share. The way Western societies work, immigrant families usually spend very little time in a given day, together. During these gaps from each other, we as young, fresh minds are bombarded by the most sophisticated marketing and propaganda campaigns in human history. As a result, whatever message they chose to impart in us, by default, is much more powerful than any words of advice you may want to share with us. If they tell us that we will gain worth in society by listening and heeding the words of hardcore gangsta rap artists, then we are more likely to listen to the marketing team at Interscope records than we are to the gentle (sometimes harsh) pleas of a caring parent who we only see two hours a day. For that reason, be extremely aware of what your child allows into his mind through the media, Internet and his peer groups. Which leads me to tip number two:
2. Peer Groups: Observe your child’s peer group and you can tell what he does with majority of his time and probably what he will do in future. Do you like where his peer group is going? If not, you’d best find a way to get him into a better peer group.
3. Be Aware of the Culture of the Land: As a result of the huge propaganda campaign a lot of Western cultural norms are now ours. Gone are a lot of our traditional beliefs in favour of what a lot of us (not myself) consider to be the “more modern” Western alternatives. So that means that a lot of us have very different standards when it comes to sexuality, the relationship between adults and children, our place in society, God and pretty much everything you can think of. If you find yourself continually butting heads with your child, look across the hedge and look at how the Australian child relates to their parents, therein may be the answer.
4. We Are Young and Opportunities are Everywhere: These two are very separate points worthy of their own discussion but I will bunch them together because in my mind’s eye they’re as connected as the Siamese. The reason I did not bat an eyelash when I left school and am extremely confident in pursuing my fortune sharing knowledge on the world wide web is because in my heart of hearts I know two things.
One, I am young, full of energy and as a result of growing up in two cultures, very resourceful.
Two, even if all my ventures fail miserably, I live in a welfare society that has safety nets galore. I can simply live of the dole while I write my second business plan which I will submit to the government bureaucracies that fund and support small business and who knows maybe I might make my fortune on the second or third or fourth time that I commit to a project I am passionate about. Bottom line:failure doesn’t mean I will starve. So relax, we are here. Push comes to shove, I’ll be fine.
btw: How awesome is this picture? One of the coolest pics I’ve found in a while….