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Just got an interesting outside view of the US from a Nigerian woman

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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:32 PM
Original message
Just got an interesting outside view of the US from a Nigerian woman
I took my daughter to a birthday party and the birthday girl's family is from Nigeria. Her aunt has only been here about a year and I talked to her and two other family members the whole time. It was fascinating.

I asked her what she thought of living here, and she said, "There are two problems here, money and family. Everything is about money in America--making, getting, spending more and more and more money. Money, money, money. So much in this culture is about money. People work so much here, so many hours. And even that is not enough. And in Nigeria, your extended family is so important. People just go to each other's houses, no phone call. They might bring food, or the people you visit might make food when you get there, and everyone eats and talks, everyone, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings. Here, my sister lives in Plano, another sister in Frisco. By the time I get home from work, it is a ten or twelve hour day and I want to go see my sisters, but I would have to drive so far, through the bad traffic and I am already so tired."

She looked off in the distance and said, "We traded some bad for good and some good for bad when we came here. I find it lonely, isolated."

I told her it wasn't always so much this way in America. I started to say "Fifty years ago, extended family lived closer to each other.." and they laughed and said "That long ago? Fifty years?"

We got into politics and I discovered they detest bush. When I told them how upset I was about the election, they said "We thought most white people loved him." I laughed and said that's a big misperception. When I said "some of us do have brains" they doubled over laughing. They told me their entire family cried for days after the election and they said "That other man running, Kerry, I knew he was a good man, a smart man. But the republicans CHEATED. THEY CHEATED."

I have to admit, I was surprised to hear this. And they weren't shy about it, either. They didn't seem worried about being labeled conspiracy theorists. They were absolutely convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the election was rigged and crooked.

Then one of them asked me, "What is wrong with that man? bush? What is wrong with him? Why does he hate Iraq?"

I won't go into all of it here, but we talked about the war a lot. Then they mentioned the tsunami and said how awful they thought it was that bush didn't even say something at first. And how shameful it was to offer so little at first. They mentioned 9/11 and how the whole world mourned with the US, but this happens and it looks like the US doesn't even care. They just shook their heads.

The most interesting part of the conversation was when the birthday girl's aunt told me this:

"In Nigeria, money is not higher than relationships. You need money, yes, to buy food and clothes, but your family and friends--far higher. You value them far higher. And when you have, you give. If you have a lot, it means you give a lot. Of course! How could it be any other way? You will have relatives saying 'Auntie, I don't have a job, I need money' and of course you give it. When we go back to Nigeria to visit we bring many suitcases because we would not go back without giving things to our family, bringing them everything we can. I noticed here there is no talk about the poor. What do they do?"

She also told me a harrowing story of narrowly escaping death in an armed robbery when she went back to visit--she and her husband were shot multiple times and robbed by men from a distant village who heard they were there from America and possibly had money. They took everything they had. Their families raised the money to pay their hospital bills and finally they were able to get back.

I guess that's what she meant when she said they traded good for bad and bad for good when they came here (two of the three are US citizens now).

Anyway, I loved listening to them and hearing their perspective.
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Spazito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:38 PM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks for this,
it is very interesting to hear from those who have lived in other countries and to hear their views.
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:38 PM
Response to Original message
2. Nigeria obviously lacks a Madison Avenue
to tell them what they are missing by spending time with family and loved ones instead of spending money

/sarcasm off
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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:39 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Exactly what I was thinking as she was talking
they must not have five gazillion tons of advertising foisted upon them every single moment of their lives.

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BlueJazz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:40 PM
Response to Original message
4. That's interesting.........I'm going to McDonalds & WalMart now .
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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:42 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. LOL
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BlueJazz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:50 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. I'm glad you "got" that.
:)
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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:55 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Yeah
and I'm about to go buy vulgar amounts of electronics and DVDs and cheap, sweatshop made clothing!

WHEEEEEEEE!!!!!

:-( It's sad, really.

I told her except for the armed robberies and no jobs part, it sounds like I'd love a place like Nigeria.
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skylarmae Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:41 PM
Response to Original message
5. a great reminder - thanks!
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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:56 PM
Response to Original message
9. Family Values. That's Why GOP Uses That Talking Point
It is not JUST the economy, stupid.

MANY rightwingers hear the GOP rhetoric and swallow it because the Left refuses to talk about Family Values.

That's why I was so proud of Wes Clark. He came out and said in his campaign "GOP talks about Family Values and Democrats VALUE FAMILIES.

WE are the party that works for decent wages so families can spend time together, WE are the ones who fought for Family Leave, WE are the ones who care about Health Insurance, Social Security and Education.
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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. That's a great line from Clark
and I agree, we are the ones who obviously value families.

The repuke stuff is just a bunch of empty words---there is no meaning or action behind it.

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Lorien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:01 PM
Response to Original message
10. I always enjoy your posts, Bouncy Ball
You're an excellent story teller; I always feel like those were MY experiences after reading one of your narratives.

Yes, many outside the US feel the same way. My former roommate from Thailand was always dumbfounded by our lack of close personal relationships in this country. I remember her blowing up at someone once when they said "yeah, we should go do that sometime.." "WHEN?!" she demanded "You people always make plans, then you decide not to go-for no reason at all! Don't you care about keeping your word here? Why don't you treat friends like friends? You lie! You say pleasant things, but you don't mean them. You would rather watch the TV than have a friend"! I understood exactly how she felt, but I was never able to confront anyone as boldly as Orawan was. I think most of us DU feel the same sense of isolation, but since it's all many of us have ever known, we don't think anything different is possible. I've often told people that I wanted to leave the US because I don't identify with our culture. They always assume it's strictly due to politics, but there's more to it than that.
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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:09 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Ah, first thank you.
I come by the storytelling through generations of it. All males, but somehow it got to me! LOL! My family LOVES to tell stories.

And you know, your last line was great. That is EXACTLY how I am (and my husband). It IS more than political, it's cultural, social, all of it.

Our bush voting neighbor, back when we talked to her, was horrible about that: she'd always enthusiastically suggest that we do a specific thing "sometime" or she'd even say a specific day and then it wouldn't happen. She was just....saying it, I guess. And when she would say those things to my daughter (kids are very literal) it always disappointed her, until my daughter learned to take every promise with a grain of salt.

I thought the stuff the Nigerian woman said about valuing money over relationships was SPOT ON.
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tblue37 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 11:17 PM
Response to Reply #10
27. One thing I have noticed about young adults these days
is how readily people in that age group "ditch" each other (what my generation would have called being stood up).

I have several friends in their twenties, and they are always talking about getting ditched. What that means is that people make plans with them, and then just don't show up, or they call at the last minute and say they can't make it. They don't usually even offer a plausible excuse. At least in the days when ditching was called standing up the stander-upper felt the need to make up a resonable excuse. But now everyone is supposed to understand that if something better comes along, they will get ditched. No one is supposed to take offense at it, either.

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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-09-05 03:21 PM
Response to Reply #27
30. I've noticed that, too.
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Mend Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:09 PM
Response to Original message
12. Sad topic but did she mention female circumcision
Edited on Sat Jan-08-05 09:12 PM by Mend
in Nigeria? It is supposed to be one of the countries where over 75 per cent of the girls are thus mutilated.
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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:11 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. No
that didn't come up at all.

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Spazito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:18 PM
Response to Original message
15. I just had to read this again and it brings home the reality...
that she, her friends and family are far richer than any who value dollars over the things in life that truly matter.
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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:24 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. You can say that again.
And they are extremely close, even though they live farther apart here. If any one of them needs ANYTHING, they just pick up the phone and ask, period.

The father of the birthday girl is one of the kindest people I have ever met in my life. One of the girls who was a guest was a total brat and when they were given their little cards for tokens for the arcade games, she said "It's only got $8 on it? I was hoping it would be more!" The father looked pained and asked her what she needed. Then she had the presence of mind to at least be embarrassed by what she said and said "nothing."

But later I found out he paid extra for all of them to race go-carts. My daughter's car and two others wrecked pretty badly at the end and jolted them really good. My daughter was crying her head off, very scared, and he jumped over the railing, grabbed her out of the go-cart (I was inside) and held her, bringing her inside in his arms.

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RoeBear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:26 PM
Response to Original message
17. All that dislike of this country
and they still prefer to become US ciitzens, strange?
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fortyfeetunder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:35 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. I don't think it's dislike
It's just their perception how they see the US based on their upbringing in another country. And frankly, I think she was correct in her observation.
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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:43 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Did you miss the part
Edited on Sat Jan-08-05 09:44 PM by Bouncy Ball
about armed robberies? Are you not aware of the unemployment level in Nigeria? Even people with advanced college degrees cannot find jobs.

All of the people I was talking to tonight have advanced degrees, one has a PhD. They contribute greatly to our country. The one with the PhD worked selling used cars until he was able to find a job in his field (cancer research--he studied in universities in Europe).

Did you also miss how she said they traded some good for bad and some bad for good when they came here?

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RoeBear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:49 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. Glad to have them here
did they express disappointment in not staying in Nigeria and helping their people there?
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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 10:07 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. They visit Nigeria as often as they can.
I also talked about that. Airfare is expensive, but they save up for it.

One woman hasn't been since 2000, when the armed robbery occurred. She's scared.

The others go back once a year or once every two years, as finances allow. They take gifts and give them money. They also send money.

(I wrote about it when I said the woman talked about how many suitcases they take when they visit because they are bringing so many things to their relatives.)

Like any immigrants, of course they have mixed feelings. Hell, *I* have mixed feelings about this country and my people have been here since time out of mind. They see living in the US as having both good (jobs, better quality of living) and bad parts (the isolation, the focus on material things, and now the political situation).
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mitchtv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:47 PM
Response to Original message
20. My partner is Mex Am from the Spanish 1st language generation
their family values are similar, but the younger english only generation are more gringo, tho, not completely( they still have the food) the third generation is marrying now; many are indistinguishable from other Americans, Losing even the Delicious Mexican Cuisine.
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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 10:09 PM
Response to Reply #20
23. Yes
our neighbors across the street are from Mexico. They are incredibly open, gregarious people. They invite EVERYONE (I mean, the whole street) over frequently and don't have to have a birthday as a reason to have a party and eat food.

Last time I was over there, they were roasting a whole suckling pig. I always ask what I can bring and they insist NOTHING! NOTHING!

We trade services for each other. I babysit their two youngest kids quite often and she makes me homemade tamales and her husband owns a repair shop and he recently fixed my back brakes. I owe them some more babysitting. I am also teaching their youngest English.

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bloom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 10:24 PM
Response to Original message
24. thanks for that
Edited on Sat Jan-08-05 10:24 PM by bloom
It's always interesting to hear outside views.

It sounds like they may be developing an extended family over here. It's not easy to relocate for jobs and maintain that. I know of whole extended families - parents, adult siblings and children, etc. all relocating across the country. It is a matter of priorities.
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BamaGirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-09-05 12:08 AM
Response to Reply #24
28. We did something like this a few years ago.
My parents got some wild hair and decided to move to Vegas. So my brother moved to Vegas. Then my husband went to Korea (in the Army), and my kids and I moved to Vegas. It was crazy lol. Even crazier, when the Army sent us back to this side of the country, they all moved back too lol!

Also along those lines, my husband and I have been good friends with two couples we knew in the Army for several years now. We all decided about the same time not to re-enlist, and to stay here, where only one of the 6 of us has any family. Funny thing is her mom has pretty much adopted us all, and our kids, and we all see each several times a week. As far as pick-your-own extended families go, it can't be beat.
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proud patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 10:30 PM
Response to Original message
25. Thanks for sharing this
:D
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 10:32 PM
Response to Original message
26. An eminently more civilized and superior culture and country. Thank you
for posting. :hug: They have a great perspective. And they're reminders about the true spirit of humanity. They are a true culture of life. The US is a culture of greenbacks.
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steely Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-09-05 12:33 AM
Response to Original message
29. Your new friends remind me of my neighbors.
They aren't from Nigeria, but somewhere else, and I think they may feel the same way.
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Bouncy Ball Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-09-05 03:22 PM
Response to Original message
31. Today I went to their house to retrieve a couple of items we
accidentally left at the party and I started to have my daughter go up to their door to get the items so I didn't have to get out of the car and then I realized that would probably be rude to them, so I turned off the car, got out, went to the door with my daughter and they invited us in for a visit.

I was glad I re-thought sitting in the car.

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