Radio 101: Student Navigates Three Cultures

Radio 101: Student Navigates Three Cultures

3:08pm Jul 17, 2015
Mariama Ibrahim
Lopa Shah

Radio 101 is WFDD's education program for high school students.  Radio 101 reporter, Mariama Ibrahim, tells her story.

As the number of immigrants rises in the U.S., so does the number of young people trying to navigate more than one cultural identity. Mariama Ibrahim's father is Nigerian, her mother is Panamanian, and she grew up in America.

As a child, some of Mariama's peers made negative comments about her heritage. However, Mariama was always happy to be Nigerian, Panamanian, and American.

Her mother, Princella Josefina Ibrahim, thinks that a lot of people like Mariama embrace their culture. "It's their identity.  These days everybody's from someplace else, and it's something to be proud of."

Despite her pride, Mariama sometimes doesn't know where she fits in.  Wake Forest psychology professor, Debbie Best, says that having strong support at home and outside the home helps immigrant youth figure out their identities.  She says it is easier if their parents let them assimilate to their new country. But she warns that assimilation is not a simple panacea for immigrant youth. Best says that "people who integrate both cultures tend to be the most mentally healthy."

Mariama navigates her different cultures by switching back and forth between the three.  Sometimes she's more Nigerian or Panamanian, and sometimes she's more American. She hopes to help others by exposing them to her rich heritage.  And she continues to be a proud Nigerian, Panamanian, American.