Prior to my class and I meeting AA, we had dedicated an entire lesson to discuss identity in the context of our society, and how different identities are treated positively. This gave some of us the chance to hear each other out about how they were treated based on their nationality, race, religion, and so on. It was also an opportunity to talk about representation of identity, as we watched a video clip of a Nigerian woman giving a TED talk. I primarily spoke about how being represented in different social institutions makes all kinds of people feel seen and makes them feel a sense of belonging.
The second session entailed hearing AA speak about how she escaped Cameroon because of an arranged marriage to an older man she didn’t love. She described the terrors of her journey through the desert, the people that held her for ransom and how she was severely abused all throughout, even seeing people die along the way. While telling her story, I noticed how she did not hesitate, nor did she show any sign of weakness. It seemed that she came out on top from all that, and I truly admire that.
I think these sessions gave us a reminder of the privileged lives we live, and they instilled a sense of gratitude. I am thankful for AA bravely sharing her story.
Shannon Cishahayo, St. Aloysius College Sixth Form