When people ask how to pronounce my last name, I tell them to remove the American inspires “C” and utilize the phonics they were taught in grade school.
The next question that usually follows is, “so where are you from?” To this I usually begin to say Richmond, Virginia; however, I know that’s not a satisfactory answer to the question despite the fact that I have lived in Virginia for the past twelve years. Instead I draw on my roots and tell them that I was born in Africa but raised in America.
For me being African has been my first and foremost identification. It’s how others see me and over the past few years it’s how I’ve began to truly see myself. I don’t know how to not be African, how to not love my Liberian roots.
However, my love for Africa has always been tinted by the generalizations and stereotypes that are often attached to the continent. After years of explaining to people that I did not live in a jungle or suffer from malnutrition as a child, I have developed a desire to educate others about Africa and its many countries. Most importantly, I have realized that the best way to uplift Africa is to better the conditions in African countries that lend to these generalizations.
Therefore, I decided to concentrate on the African region when I declared my International Affairs and Development major in college. After recently finishing my fist year at the George Washington University I am positive that I chose the right field of study. It is very true that many African countries are suffering both economically and socially; yet, I continue to believe that there is so much unlocked potential in these countries.
So, when I initially heard about Achieve in Africa and the projects in Tanzania, I felt a need to be a part of the progress. It was literally a dream to receive an internship with AIA. I look forward to working as an intern for this organization because I know that building infrastructure and furthering education can and will brighten the potential of the impacted children and communities. Doing my part to uplift Africa makes me feel closer to my heritage and working with Achieve in Africa provides an opportunity to educate both those in Africa and those unable to comprehend the overall exquisiteness of Africa.
– Samah McGona