Monday, March 28, 2011

Out of Africa

A few months ago, a call for pages on the CK blog caught my eye: calling for pages on "life changes."  An internal debate raged, finally the weekend before it was due, I got up the courage to look through a box of photos marked for "throw away" and made a layout.

I don't do a lot of this "type" of scrapbooking.  Primarily, it requires photos that I usually don't have, and I have yet to do a photo-less layout. Also I prefer to journal about present day facts, humorous anecdotes, witty thoughts... but this is documenting a part of my life journey, and the part that hasn't been without tremendous pain...

Twenty years removed from leaving Africa, I have a little more perspective on this topic.  While I was scared to death leaving my parents, I now can see how they were probably scared to death ^ nth degree, but they had to hold it together and not let on that fact. Mountains had to be moved to get me that U.S. visa, and once it was secured, I remember the little things they did to prepare for my leaving: cooking lessons, a gold necklace with a cow pendant ...  They both cried at the airport and my dad could barely hug me.  See this is why we don't write or scrapbook about these things, how does one hold back the emotions and tears ...

Now that I'm a parent, it's not that difficult to imagine my children going off to college, even to a "foreign" country. However things would be vastly different.  Where I talked to my parents on the phone twice in the four years I attended college, I imagine I would get daily if not instantaneous updates from my kids.  Where my parents had no money to travel to visit me, I might anonymously move to the city where my kids would be.  Where my parents wouldn't qualify for a visa to enter the U.S., there is no limit to where I can go as a U.S. citizen. 

To be sure, I was not completely alone or lonely.  No time in my life has God been more present than those four years. In my desperate need, He showed up so mightily, so tenderly and so concretely in the form of my host family.  That's another story and another scrapbook page, if I can hold the emotions in check. ;)

So here is this layout.  And by the way, my story does have a happy "ending," even if it is my parents living in my house six months every year! :)

"At the age of 17, I left my parents in Dakar, Senegal to come to Minnesota, U.S.A. for college.  That was life-changing in so many ways, of which I only realized a fraction at the time.  The future was completely uncertain, and in the end, I wouldn't see my parents for four years. I would only talk to them on the phone twice in those four years. At 17, my English was completely fluent, but my understanding of the American culture was in its infancy.  I would go on studying and working for four years, with all of my strength, mind, and heart.  Motivated by the thoughts of parents who sold all of their furniture and borrowed all they could to give me this opportunity. I would not fail them.  I came to the U.S. at 17 to make a life for myself and to deliver on a whisper of hope. It was the biggest life change in my life so far, nothing else could compare, not even motherhood. "

As seen in the March/April 2011 issue of Creating Keepsakes magazine. Copyright Creative Crafts Group. Posted with prior permission from the publisher.

38 comments:

Sue said...

I love this layout, Jing-Jing, especially the story behind it. I never knew you were from Senegal. Is that why you speak French?

Samantha Sibbet said...

I just saw this in the mag and I think it is fabulous, gret job girl!!

Mina974 said...

Wow, formidable page!!! Et ton histoire est magnifique!!! Love your story and your layout!! Yasmina

deana said...

Love this layout, love your story, love you. So glad our paths crossed in this crazy hobby of ours. You are one very cool and inspiring girl.

Congrats on the pub. You are are so talented... :-)

scrapopotamos said...

...and from Africa you came to us, thank goodness! Just reading your story brought a little blurriness to my eyes! Make a bet, we shall send our children to the same colleges so we may rent an apartment in town and take turns stalking them?

Keri said...

I've got a little eye-blurriness going on too, and I'll echo Deana's sentiments...so very grateful to have met you, Jing-Jing!

Jennifer Larson said...

This was hands down one of my favorite LOs in this issue, excepting another by a woman who shares your name, LOL! ; - ) Just incredible design. Way to rock the discards.

Alia said...

Wow! What a powerful LO and experience!!

Kryssi said...

Thanks for sharing your story! Your layout is fantastic, and so cool to know you hail from Africa!

Andi (RrlScrapGal) said...

Oh Jing Jing... Tears in my eyes!! Your parents... my gosh.. what strength to let you go at such a young age and what they gave up to send you out on your own...And yes - as a parent, I 'get it' - their love for you... and how hard it must have been for all of you those 4 years...

Karen B. said...

Congratulations on your publication. Although it might be difficult for you it is nice to see a different side.

Emily Leiphart said...

Oh my gosh, Jing-Jing. I was in tears after I finished reading this post. What an incredible journey you've had! I enjoyed learning more about you. Your parents must be SO, SO proud!! A big congrats on the publication, too. :D

Charlene said...

This brought tears to my eyes...the love that your parents had for you and the courage to send you off...that would be so so hard. And not seeing you...wow I could'nt imagine! And just think...now there are making up for lost time visiting you every year for 6 months lol!! LOVE this!!!

Sandi Cl~ said...

OMigosh .. where to start? Amazing layout exceeded only by the story behind it! Oh my!~ The tears are flowing. There is so much that so many take for granted when we really owe so much to those who sacrificed for us! My parents sold a car to send me to college in a city 30 minutes away from them . but their furniture . not! But I'm sure they would have! I'm ssure you are grateful to them and to God for being right there beside you all the way! Big congrats on your PUB!

alexandra s.m. said...

YEAH!!!
I'm just so happy you shared that amazing story!
Ta page est merveilleusement construite et le journaling absolument poignant!!

Merci jing-Jing!

Pearl said...

always love hearing this story ! truly remarkable ! what a destiny ! lol ! ;)

Alice Wertz said...

think you for sharing your touching story, Jing-Jing. that's why you are such a nice and down to earth gal. =) fabulous layout and congrats on the pub!!

irene moira said...

i really have to hold back my tears.. it's not just so sentimentil, but it also shows how strong you and your family are! you're such an inspiring lady, jing jing :) both your art and yourself!

Jocelyn said...

Ok....tissue please!!!! Thank you so very much for sharing this wonderful LO and story!!! This is what scrapbooking is all about!!! The memories.....

Congrats on the PUB....you so deserve it sweet friend!!

You made my cloudy day filled with sunshine!!!

Christie Bryant said...

What an amazing story Jing-Jing! So happy that you put your photos and story on a layout, thank you for sharing it. Your girls will surely treasure this story when they are old enough to understand.

Bente Fagerberg said...

Oh JJ your story brought tears to my eyes. I can barely begin to understand what that must have been like for your parents. -And for you, just a young girl. I can just see them there at the airport trying to say good bye to you!
My eldest daughter is getting ready to move abroad to go to university. But as you say the means of keeping in touch is so much more developed now. Still I dread the day that we shall be waving goodbye to her...
Thanks for sharing this JJ.

Nathalie said...

Jing Jing.... il faut que je te rencontre vraiment un jour!!! Je savais que tu étais intelligente, pleine d'humour et d'une grande gentillesse mais maintenant que je sais que tu as grandi en Afrique (comme moi!!!) j'ai vraiment envie de papoter avec toi! :D Ta page est géniale et me touche encore plus de part le parcours qu'elle décrit! Bravo pour la publication!

Chantal said...

This is such a striking and awesome page, Jing-Jing!!! Well done!!! xo

Linda Beeson said...

What an amazing story and it sure made for a really great layout.

Blossom inch said...

i love this layout and your courage and all the stories behind are just so awesome. You are one brave girl at the age of 17. Indeed a very meaningful experience of a lifetime and thanks for sharing. xoxo

teacher jessy said...

Whoa, you have an interesting life eh?! I enjoyed reading your journey. A very meaning layout to go with the memories too!! Congrats on being pubbed!

Courtney said...

such an important part of your life to record - and you did it so well!! and super, super congrats on the pub you rockstar!

liana suwandi said...

I stoped by at BN the other day and found your LO, really amazing! Love everything here, especially the journaling!
Congrats Girl!!!

Lydia said...

I love this layout Jing Jing and the back pack girl stamp could not be a more perfect addition!! Very Nice!

jamie said...

wow!
that is an amazing story.
your are an amazing woman.
i have yet to get to your layout in the ck sitting on my ottoman...heck...i am barely getting to my mail these days, so i am so glad i stopped by and read that not only were you published...like again...but with such a beautiful story.
great job!
~j

Debbie said...

Truly a wonderful layout, as all of yours are. The story behind it is heart warming!

papertrails leaver said...

what a fabulous layout! Congrats on the pub, well deserved! :-) Amy

Melanie said...

I saw this layout in the mag and LOVE it! What an amazing person you are :)

Cynthia Lloréns said...

Just a fabulous LO..great page.
I love everything in here!!!
Hugs from Brazil
Cynthia

Rbarakat said...

Amazing!You rock girl! Fabulous lo!

Debbi Tehrani said...

I love this page, Jing-Jing. It caught my eye in the mag right away. Such a clever page with those maps!

Belinda said...

Lovely layout! :) Just fabulous!

Karen said...

I loved this LO when I saw it in my CK mag. Thanks for sharing what was clearly a painful life journey :)