Breaking the Barrier

Breaking the Barrier

On 10.10.15, Washington D.C. held the Million Man March 20th anniversary where marchers walked from the National Mall to the Capitol. Running from 6am to about 6pm there were many motivational speakers talking to us about history and moving forward. I remember attending the very first one when I was 4 years old and it was nice to see the progression we have made since then. Living in D.C. was super convenient because my friends and I walked to the march. There was a lot of love in the air, people of different ages, religions and color blends came together for a common goal; justice. The event gave me a sense of pride and comfort and to be a part of history was a great feeling.

 

A few friends and I at the Million Man March

 

English Tutoring

As a part of your commitment at TWC, you have to complete at least 5 hours of community service and during the beginning of the program a few organizations came to search for volunteers. I decided to help out with a school called Next Step Public Charter School helping students practice their English. Wednesday was my first time going and I loved it! I entered the basement of a building, a room full of students accompanied by about 5 or so tutors. I was greeted by a teacher, a white woman fluent in Spanish who directed me to sit with a group of students who I soon found out were from countries in Central America. It was the week of Columbus Day, so they were reading about his voyage around the world. I'll admit I was hesitant because my perspective of Columbus is different then many Americans and I couldn't help but let that show when answering questions the students had about him. "Why is he celebrated if he enslaved millions, conquered a land and has poor geography skills..?" "Excellent question Carlos!" I thought. These kids were very smart! I told them about the fight to change the name to Indigenous Peoples Day to celebrate the real land owners who were abandoned. They liked that.

 

I'm looking forward to helping out with the teaching English there though. Seems like my theme this semester is working with and helping people who come from other countries transition here in America. I like that theme.


The assigned reading on my first day at Next Step Public Charter

 

Happy Feet

Story time! So for my internship, I took a refugee of mine to an interview at a produce factory- he had been waiting since 8:40am for me smiling and excited to begin work only to go and find out he didn't have the documents he needed on him. Now he doesn't know much English, so trying to explain the other form was a failure and I could see his beautiful wide eyes losing sight. I called a translator and had them explain that I would not give up on him and we would get the documents together. He said "Ms Tiara I will be grateful to God to work anywhere", and it broke my heart that I couldn't help get him hired today. I explained how the process for Americans is tough and unfair and even more so for refugees, but I will help him reach his dream job.

 

So after that I figured he was hungry and took him to lunch and we are pictured here sitting in the grass. I can't imagine what's going through his mind, I picture myself in a land opposite of my own tongue opposite of my own people talking about me, taking me places I don't understand. I pulled out google translate and decide to get his mind off of it all at least for 30 minutes and ask him to teach me Swahili. So we sat and I taught him some English and walked away knowing how to say a few phrases in Swahili. He asked where I was from, "No no Ms. Tiara, before Philadelphia".  My ancestors were slaves my friend, so I'm afraid I cannot answer that. We continued with the language lesson.

 

Moments like these with refugees don't get told often enough. P.S., he hated the Chick-fil-a sauce. My manager told me just that another factory will accept his documents so he will be working somewhere else. YAYYY!!! It's difficult to not feel a strong sense of gratitude when you help a client reach their goals.


Here we are in the grass having lunch and learning new languages

 

Diplomatic Affairs

I just had the most important lunch I think I will ever have. A few weeks ago, I attended a talk on African dictators and afterwards the man next to me complemented me on my dedication to Peace Corp- I began to ask about him and found out that he was a former US Diplomat and Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Kenya, Qatar, Slovenia, Mauritania, and Madagascar. I gasped with excitement and told him my plans of becoming an Ambassador, he gave me his card and the next day I emailed him. Right away he responded and invited me over for dinner with his wife and children or lunch at the restaurant for retired FSOs. We met today and hearing his fight to become anything during the civil rights movement was so inspiring. He said if there's anything I want young people to know, its the fight we had to go through in the 60's for your freedom today. He is the reason why I as an African have a right to represent the US. I am forever indebted Ambassador Young!

 

Ironically he's also from Philly! He grew up in South Philly in the projects and went to Temple. What motivation! After lunch he asked to take my picture, he said it'll be worth something one day haha!

 

Lunch with Ambassador Young

 

Ambassador Johnny Young

 

Look who's on the menu!

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine tagged me in a photo of a D.C. based organization asking women to write letters to women who are domestic violence survivors showing them that people care. I reached out for more information because I wanted to support and the owner of the organization reached back out to me and asked if I would be willing to receive an award! Who, me?! I said, I would be honored! I am used to receiving awards in my hometown of Philly but never anything in D.C.! The award that I was receiving was called "Woman on the Rise" award and the event was to recognize woman pushing their way through a patriarchal society. What a wonderful, elegant event! Each recipient shared inspiring words about their journey and the need to keep pushing. I shared my reasons and the need to give back to others and my journey as well. The event was inspiring as a woman, and showed the power of women if we come together and unite.

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