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Relationship Management Skills for Interacting with Adults and Kids

My resume so far is heavily dominated with research and instruction. It is going to be hard at this point to explain my interest or commitment to any employer offering me a chance in a field that did not necessarily relate closely or loosely with the areas I just mentioned.

I’ve been through some personal indecisive moments where I wondered if I my interest in international affairs, a masters degree, and a foreign language were enough reason for me to go into international civil service or if I am indeed cut out for academia. For the most part, I would say I have made some progress trusting my life’s path, genuine interests and process, and so currently, I remain on academia’s path. Who knows? *Shrugs*

My training sessions recently have been on relationship management with young people. They have left such a strong impression on me and I would like to share some of the information I received in this post.

I am not a parent yet, however, observing young people and working with them makes me see how comparable and nearly the same adults are to young people.

Relationship Management With Adults and Kids, The How Tos –

Never Try to Negotiate through Tantrums/Arguments

Have you ever been in a conversation that is far from friendly and civil? An argument is what that is! Raised voices, overly assertive stances, egos at play and a stubborn view that the parties hold because they both think they are right. As a rule of thumb, disengage when tempers soar. Discontinue the conversation, walk away or wait until the person calms down. Same with young people, do not argue, reason with, coerce or bribe an upset young person. Let them know, ( both adults and kids ) that you will only engage in conversations once there is calm. I’ve seen young people and adults grow fiercer, nastier and act out more only because the other person tried to calm them down, I mean, fires get bigger if you try to put them out in the wrong way. To disarm, only continue when they calm down.

The Go Lower, Go Slower Rule

As a segue to the first rule, the go lower , go slower rule is where you would slow down, quieten your own emotions and speak slower to an agitated person. Remember at this point to eliminate hostile words, postures or gestures. Assume the position of the logical one because quite obviously, the upset person is moving mad.When we meet upset people with the same amount of energy, fireworks will happen. The go lower, go slower rule is how you calm down and quieten or tone down the scale of the argument. If this does not work, we move to the first recommendation which is to disengage.

Don’t Expect Behaviors You Don’t Teach

@themillenial.therapist ‘s Post on Ig

A lot of us women get upset at other women and men because they do not treat us the way we want them to or better yet, expect them to. We think they should already know what to do. Does this make any sense at all? How does a person expect a thing they do not ask for? For young people as well, you need to be explicit and teach or say what you expect, and then when the expectation is not met, you hold them accountable.

Punishment, Accountability

I am very interested in language, wording and positive reinforcement and so there is no way I would ever forget my elementary teacher’s comments on my report card. The comment was always along the lines of ‘Talks too much in class’ or ‘Can do better’. We can’t go through sugar coated moments all throughout life; but then we can always say constructive things to people. In retrospect my teacher could’ve said, the student has a good potential for leadership etc etc and should be offered resources and opportunities to channel that interest in self expression etc etc. because really, what does ‘talks too much in class mean? And what should anyone do with that information? I do agree that not everyone has time or the brain power to reword or constantly remember to be sensitive and offer constructive feedback, however, the key thing is to try. Coming to the word punishment, our trainer offered that we exchange the word punishment for consequence. That made sense to me. That also reminded me equally to remember to make consequences meaningful. To make consequences constructive, explain the relevance of your action ( the consequence ) and then allow the person you’re mad at a chance to rethink what they did and then discuss next steps. Sometimes kids and adults go through consequences and they have no idea the relevance of what they went through or why they need to do things differently. We miss good teaching moments when we do not offer explanations for the consequences we place on others.

Attack the Behavior and Not the Person

Often in arguments, we get distracted and go on unprofitable tangents. Whenever you need to address an issue, try as hard as possible to focus on the action and not the person. Instead of saying you always do this and I’m tired of you; ( Sounds accusatory ) – say this is what you do ( state the thing ) and this is how it makes me feel ( focus on the action ).

Thanks for reading!

Is Success Predetermined? ( Shoe Dog and Two Cases of Study )

Sisyphus and the Incessant Rolling Stone – Sometimes Symbolizing the Futility of the Human Pursuit of Success/Power

I live on African news. On a certain evening in late October, I was having dinner and listening absent mindedly to the London based Nigerian reporter who hosts the BBC Africa podcast. I liked her pace, voice and near casual delivery. I threw down whatever crumbs of food I was eating and walked away from the speaker that filled the apartment with the news. I was going to pace the entire square foot of the living space with no real aim in mind until I gave up and went to bed. Then the story of Dr. Ismail Ahmed, the founder of World Remit came on. There was mention of his having been let go of while he worked with one of the UN agencies; the UNDP, to be specific. He was working in the remissions department and had noticed a gross whirlwind of corruption and intended to blow the whistle. I rolled my eyes. This was truly a whistle blowing age we lived in. He was so concerned he wanted his superiors to support him while he changed the world and straightened things up in the specific UN office yet that was sadly not going to happen. He was told he could lose his job if he went ahead with the probe and outing. He eventually lost his job, doubled his fiery determination to make a difference and started World remit. Dr. Ahmed was recently named first on the 2019 UK power list in recognition of his success so far with World Remit.

My UN Experience

I worked in one of the UN offices in Accra for a year. While I think I didn’t work long enough to notice any activity worth whistle blowing over, I did encounter an image that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Naturally, any young graduate who cared enough about change would have stirrings in their spirit over the pace of work and things to be done. This was me in 2013; I had graduated with a bachelors in liberal arts and a foreign language under my belt. These diplomats had better make room and watch me change the world! My equally ambitious friend and I often spoke about books, travel, places to eat after work and the lady in the HR department who we asked the same question each morning. Did she need a hand with projects? Did she need help with pending work, help with future work, anything? Did she want us to clean her office even? We probably would have, but each time, the answer was a curt NO. The lady was a whole topic of discussion because unlike our boss boss, who practiced an open door policy with us, this one was very different. She was hostile, passive aggressive and never willing to assign or offload work to us. We were after all interns and there to work! Anyway, outside this, we quickly noticed the bureaucracy of the UN. To back the frustrating realization of this clogged up system, there was an image in our office of a dog. The dog appeared in many versions; imagine mugshots that continued for the span of about 14 boxes. Essentially the dog was captured looking excited in the very first shot and not so excited in the last. The images were a gradual and dismal transition of emotions and energy, from total motivation to eventual frustration. The dog was a representation of the effect work in the UN could have on you; – you would come in excited, eager to change the world; and eventually withdraw your excitement in exchange for a trite acceptance of the reality that changing the world might actually take a lot more longer than you’d expected….And this image was in our office! The presence of the image in our office was a bold and saddening admission that we all knew, and somehow accepted all we saw.

Francis Ngannou’s Story

Francis Ngannou is a successful mixed martial artist from Cameroon. He lived in poverty growing up; the crippling type of poverty that stifles any chance or effort to be resourceful. He migrated to France, met nearly the same amount of suffering if not more and then walked randomly one day into a training studio where he met a man that would train him, cultivate his skills and hone him into the world star he is today.

Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog is an intimate memoir by the creator of Nike, Phil Knight. Throughout the thirteen hour audio book, I have been unable to shake off the tremendous contribution of his coach, in the shaping of knight’s character, intellect and spirit. Phil Knight tells of his coach’s resilience, industriousness, strength, force. Bill Bowerman’s conviction that the type of shoe an athlete wore had a direct relationship with performance. He is Nike’s cofounder and the brain behind some of the brand’s very first creations.

Take Aways

The three individuals from these three encounters definitely worked hard. However, I am still mulling over the contribution and convenience of the relationships and steps and events that came their way that led to their success. Their stories enforce for me that….

…..the dots always connect.

Book Review, Bell Hooks – Feminism Is for Everybody (Work in Progress)

Capture d_écran 2018-05-24 à 4.57.59 PM Dr. Negash assigned this book in our 7000 writing class and like any flustered grad student, I decided that I’d read an article or two about it and read the real book later. The one thing that made me come back to this book outside of course my professor’s swearing by it, is the confusion that surrounds this concept of Feminism. Whether you are indifferent, repulsed or simply really wondering what these Feminists are about, it comes as no surprise to me especially because recently, I shift uncomfortably in my seat when I read posts online while feeling increasingly anxious to call myself Feminist or engage in the distracting conversation that surrounds Feminism. Reading this book has been both an enriching and tedious experience and this post’s main aim is to demystify Feminism with the help of this amazing writer, Bell Hooks, while attempting to keep readers on track and constantly reminded of the concept’s core motivations ( the elimination of sexism ) as well as the introduction of all the many fundamental and motivating factors for the naissance of this movement. (In plain language, it is a lot to take in, but while reading, keep main ideas in mind, main ideas like the fact that Feminsim isn’t anti-male therefore trends like #MenAreTrash do not equal Feminism) I will highlight the core ideas Bell Hooks presents based on the sequence they’re presented in, in addition to connecting theory with examples from society.

What is the Aim of Feminism?

Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression ;the movement isn’t anti- male, rather it addresses sexism; which implies that all of us, male and female have been socialized to accept sexist thought and action from birth. As a consequence, females can be just as sexist as men; the patriarchy’s other synonym is institutionalized sexism;- a system that males benefit more from because of the assumption that they are superior to females and should rule over us….

In feminism, men will find the hope of their release from the patriarchy that holds them bondage too. A vision of mutuality is the ethos that must shape our interactions. – Paraphrase from Bell Hooks

For the purposes of this post, I’d state that this conversation revolves mainly around the theme of heterosexual relationships.

Half the time, the connotation of oppression is this vision of a person in chains. The truth though, is that oppression can still happen in subtle ways through the policing of bodies and the indirect or direct compulsion placed on individuals to conform to what is ‘right’ or ‘acceptable’. Your dressing as a female can be policed, your personal sexual reproductive choices can be policed, your conduct at work or at home can be policed, examples are endless. Women can be as sexist as men and this manifests itself in a myriad of ways including your baby brother or another male waiting for you to get home to clean a sink full of plates because mom or some female told him it was your job/role to do ‘those’ things around the house simply because you are the female. Faux feminists present essentially as women who are sexist knowingly or unknowingly. Those women that feed into the idea of pleasing the patriarchy. My mom has told me over and over again about the need to exercise, not for the sake of my health, but because men don’t like hanging bellies. 🙂 My mom has my interests at heart but is unknowingly placing it in my mind that my fitness goals need to be out of the need to look appealing. To who though? Though men have their unique struggles, this post is mainly to demystify Feminism because often, it is seen as an anti-male train and remains daunting and antagonistic in the eyes of society. Bell Hooks suggests that we all become feminists, not literally label ourselves feminist while actively engaging but to at least have a basic understanding that though idealistic, aiming for the elimination of sexism can help everyone including men find the hope of their release from the oppressive tag of ‘masculinity‘.

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Feminists are not angry

 

That type of oppressive masculinity that tells men not to cry because they are men. Needless to say, crying is a human phenomenon. That norm that suggests to women to feel less ‘feminine’ if they are unable to cook three square meals or that voice that tells a man who does most ‘womanly duties’ around the house that he isn’t man enough or the other perception he has of not being ‘man enough’ if he’s unable to financially provide or if rather, unfortunately, his partner earns more than he does.

Sexism conditions us to act in certain ways only due to our sex and from that point, it places oppressive expectations such as the ones mentioned which limits individuality or in this specific context, favors one sex ( the male sex ) over the female sex.

Summary

Feminism isn’t anti male; it is rather anti – sexism

Feminism wants to eliminate sexism which is the lifeblood of the patriarchy

The patriarchy’s other name is institutionalized sexism

The patriarchy favors one sex over the other; which means both sexes are affected by sexism yet one (male) benefits more from the system than the other

If we all become feminist aka subscribe to the idea of eliminating sexism, men can also benefit through the elimination of their own unique and imposed struggles that society thrusts upon them ie not being ‘men enough’

Baking Cakes In Kigali – Book Review

Image-1 (3)         In fast-paced texts that darted from phone to phone, Marina invited me to a talk that she thought I was going to be interested in. Yaa Gyasi was speaking at the University of Michigan and Marina thought I had to be there. I’d read and reviewed Homegoing and I was more than ready to sit through a conversation with the author. In between inviting me and both of us nursing the hope that my schedule would not be too crazy in the quarter of 2018, Marina asked me about Southern African literature and if I’d read a lot of it. I’d not read much. However, NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names and J.M Coetzee’s Disgrace were books I knew I was going to reference and recommend for many years to come. Our conversation advanced and Marina suggested I read Gaile Parkin’s Baking Cakes in Kigali. Days later, I screamed as I opened a birthday package from Afi. One of the books was Baking Cakes In Kigali!

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Afi’s birthday note read; ‘Because you love to bake, I hope you enjoy this read too’. xxx

Opening

The opening scenes of the novel present us Angel, a cake maker from Tanzania who lives in Kigali with her husband and grandchildren. Right from the very beginning of the novel, I get pleasantly surprised at how diverse the characters presented are. They are from Somalia, are Somali-Italian, from Kenya, Egypt, Britian, Uganda, Japan and the protagonist herself is from Tanzania; all of these characters are in Kigali for different reasons mostly professional. The novel gathers momentum with the subtle discussion of topics spanning serious topics such as the wrong perceptions surrounding feminism, stereotypes that different countries have about each other, the preference of male children over female children in some African communities and topics as banal as daily gossip erupting from the proximity of humans to each other. One of the scenes that left me laughing was one in which the object of gossip was referred to by a coded name only the gossips knew. The former’s secret name was CIA just because it was generally believed that contrary to the former’s claims to be working with an American organization, it was strongly believed that he was really working for the CIA. This act of code naming to facilitate gossip is so relatable and funny and adds that authentic feel to this endearing novel.

Work in Progress..

Book Review I, The Sympathizer – Viet Nguyen

I stared at the paperback and suspected immediately that the name Nguyen in Vietnam must be as common as the name Mensah in Ghana. ‘Ngu…yen’ I slowly stressed each syllable while completely throwing away any remote knowledge of the uselessness of some letters in some French words. Studying French for years had taught me better. Also how these Frenchies are able to ignore whole letters in words without pronouncing them all while still physically maintaining the letters still baffles me.

Anyway, so I finally found out later from my Vietnamese colleague (whose last name is also coincidentally Nguyen and who agreed to write a part of this post) that the name Nguyen is actually pronounced /W3n/! How interesting.

Outside the use of the Vietnamese war as the backdrop of this novel, the narrative explores topical issues such as identity in the transnational space. This post will discuss identity in the novel and will lean on the perspectives of James Baldwin and Amin Maalouf to draw contrasts or similarities to the main narratives and issues presented in The Sympathizer. I’ll also have my Vietnamese colleague Mailé share about growing up Vietnamese in America.

Through the introduction of characters such as Ms. Mori, the General and Madame and the Crapulent major who names his twin babies Spinach and Brocolli, the narrator makes riveting commentary on identity in the transnational space.

Ms. Mori is American born and of Japanese heritage. She is criticised for her inability to speak Japanese and her personal choice to visit Paris versus Tokyo for holidays for example. She believes that how she is perceived in society’s eyes is flawed because deep within her, she identifies as American, Miss Sophia, the opinionated American who isn’t to be fucked with.

On the surface, I’m just plain old Ms. Mori, poor little thing who’s lost her roots, but underneath, I’m Sofia and you better not fuck with me

The General is disillusioned at life in a foreign culture. He probably dwells on past glory to keep his already downcast disposition from taking an even steeper turn. He is forced into a life that bows down to his former prestige as General and finds himself wasting away until his wife explodes out of fatigue and anger at him for leaving all their responsibilities on her shoulders. He decides then to open a liquor store which gives him some kind of purpose in life, however in the midst of his life’s troubles, he remarks that

fair percentage collecting both welfare and dust, smoldering in the stale air of subsidized apartments as their testes shriveled day by day, consumed by the metastasizing cancer called assimilation.’

His wife madame, addition to dealing with domestic burdens has their young daughter Lana to deal with. Outside quickly realizing that in America, children talk back, Lana has acquired a taste for clothing that is distasteful to both her mother’s and culture’s expectations. Lana meanwhile has become more direct and less apologetic about the way she expresses her femininity.

The Crapulent major who names his children Spinach and Brocolli leaves room for questions surrounding the possible meaning or reason behind naming children vegetable names when he could as well have named them Vietnamese names.