Nwanneka Tesy moved from Nigeria to Texas with her parents and siblings when she was 7. It was a difficult move. Immigrating was hard! The first 12 years were extremely difficult but what started to help her was when she tapped into her creativity and artistic side. That allowed her to escape the pain of being so far from her original home. Nwanneka speaks from the heart about the complexities of being parented by Nigerian parents in the US and advises anyone planning to relocate to be patient with their children and / or their spouses.
Nwanneka also warns immigrants about being nostalgic about their motherland. She says ” there’s a negative to having that vision because what you’re ultimately setting yourself up with failure. Because you have a vision of peace and then you go home and there’s so much difference in your vision and mindset because life has moved on without you “
Nwanneka is a graduate from Texas State University with a business management degree with a focus on entrepreneurship. She is also a podcaster.
I have done many interesting things that have led me to this point in my life where I feel truly content regardless of what’s happening in this world
[00:00:00] Paula: Welcome to “Chatting With The Experts”, a podcast for immigrant women from Africa and the Caribbean who have relocated to the UK, or the us, or Canada, or Australia. In this podcast we talk about the struggles, but at the same time we highlight the triumphs that we have experienced while living abroad. And we love sharing our resources and experiences with our fellow immigrant sisters, because we know they can benefit from it. My guest today is a fellow African sister and the fellow podcaster. Her name is Nwanneka Tesy, and she lives and works in the US. I am always thrilled to have new guests and she is no exception.
[00:00:58] Nwanneka: Oh, good morning. Thank you so much for having me on your podcast. It’s such an honor.
[00:01:04] Paula: Absolutely. You’re a fellow podcaster. Tell us about that.
[00:01:08] Nwanneka: Podcasting to me has always been one of those things I’ve enjoyed listening to, and I don’t think it’s specific to a region, you know. Like when you move to US, everyone says, oh no, I tried this or no I tried that, you might know what I mean.
[00:01:22] Paula: Yes.
[00:01:23] Nwanneka: And when I started listening to podcasts, I’ll do it while cleaning and doing chores. And my first podcast that my brother turned me to listening to was called “Car Talk”. They started in the eighties or seventies, and they basically just give you guidance on how to repair your car or car issues. And I just said, this is brilliant. And it had no political rem, no you know, you just bring your things and they assist it. And I said, “that’s so neat”, I would love to do something like that one day. And fast forward to 2020 here I am a podcaster.
[00:02:02] Paula: I know what you mean. I listened to car talk too, and they were NPR.
[00:02:07] Nwanneka: Yeah.
[00:02:07] Paula: And they were two brothers and they were hilarious.
[00:02:10] Nwanneka: Yes. Yes.
[00:02:12] Paula: I remember them. I remember them. So now let’s go back to, how did you get to the United States? Tell us about that.
[00:02:19] Nwanneka: Oh, this it’s an interesting story. It was not my business plan. I was part of my father’s plan. He moved to the US in the, in the early eighties to finish his education and study his masters. He ended up moving us here in the mid nineties when we were really little. And I’ve been here since. So it wasn’t a dream of mine, I’ve shared this with you. I desperately wanted to move back to Nigeria, I stepped out of the airplane. I wrote letters back home every day. Yeah, but you know, life happens and then you end up finding where you meet in the cracks and you accept that home is in your heart. So that’s how I started here.
[00:03:06] Paula: Home is in the heart. That means a lot. Which means that now that you live here, there’s something that happened between you stepping off the plane and saying, “oh my gosh, I want to go back home” to, okay I’m here.
[00:03:21] Nwanneka: Yes. We could get onto that later. But yeah, it was a big shift, because I did not favor it for 12 years when we moved. So was a long time being sad.
[00:03:34] Paula: Oh, yeah. I can understand that fully, 12 years of being sad is a long time. But then look at you today.
[00:03:44] Nwanneka: Oh yeah.
[00:03:45] Paula: Look at you today. All right. So, we touched on you coming from Nigeria. So that means your formative years were there. Correct?
[00:03:54] Nwanneka: Yes. All the way till about seven years old, which some people think, oh well that’s such a long time. But I remember everything. And I had the opportunity, as soon as I finished high school, I made it a must to travel home. So I have some friends there. I know my way around. I’m not that person that, you know, oh, I’ve never been there a long time and I have no idea. So I’m very versed in what’s happening back home.
[00:04:20] Paula: That’s wonderful. Wonderful. So you finished high school, you said, and you went back home being. Did you go to Lagos? Did you go to Onitsha? Where did you go? Where is home in Nigeria?
[00:04:30] Nwanneka: I’ll tell you what, whenever I go home, people are like, “oh she’s from abroad”, let’s take her to the city this. No, I take the next plane or vehicle that’ll take me to Anambra. And my father is from Awka. And my mom is from Onigbo. I see home as in Nebo. Because her family, they were very like, you know, they’re very close knit and it, they have, everyone has, what is it? Imperfections, right? But I just really love them. They were really kind to us. So to me, if I ever think of home, you know, “aren’t you used to grand things now”? No, I think of home as the town they’re in. It’s small, it’s just. Everyone speaks an Igbo dialect. I don’t speak, most of the time, they don’t understand my Igbo. And, but I love it. It’s just, it’s very backwards thinking, but it’s not archaic. Like, oh, you know, the type you think Igbo, you know very chill. It always reminds me of being in the beach somewhere.
[00:05:41] Paula: Cause, from what I’m hearing from you, that’s where your formative life was. And there’s a connection to, you know, things sometimes that we can relate to when we were small, you know, peace. It’s just home.
[00:05:56] Nwanneka: Yes. I remember going to school in Awka, and there’s this gigantic tree that would always signal that I’m close to getting home on my dad’s side. You know, because when your mom marries, she goes to the dad’s side.
[00:06:11] Paula: Yes.
[00:06:12] Nwanneka: So I would always look for that tree and I. Legend has it, they can’t cut it down. So every time I’ve been there up to 2018, what was the last time I went home because COVID, I haven’t been back. That tree is still there, it hasn’t, yeah, since I was a kid. So I’m hoping that that’s part of that town and they keep consistent.
[00:06:35] Paula: And that tree is significant to you, because it represents you prior to coming to the United States.
[00:06:42] Nwanneka: Yes mm-hmm.
[00:06:43] Paula: And there’s a peace that it seems to give you.
[00:06:45] Nwanneka: Yeah, it’s, I’m that person no matter the hardship and stress of growing up, either places. I like to think of what is it about a place that brought me the most peace? And what did it teach me about bringing peace to others? So, it’s where kids would gather and they’ll play. And you know, they have the marketplace, and if they have the Mo festival. That’s usually where we’ll stand and kind of take in that festival. So it reminds me of all the great things about home.
[00:07:22] Paula: I can hear that nostalgia in your voice.
[00:07:24] Nwanneka: Yeah. Yeah. That’s you know. But I will tell people there’s a negative to having that vision. Because what you’re ultimately setting yourself up with failure is you have a vision of peace and then you go home and there’s so much difference in your vision and mindset and life has moved on without you, because you’re no longer there and they don’t even think you’re a native anymore. But you know, so it’s like, you are always a visitor. But in your mind, you’re like, ah, this is home I’m home. You know, like, you know what. Sorry, my Igbo keeps slipping. You know what this is about. But to them is like your Igbo is from the nineties. They can tell, cause you know, language progresses and changes. But they can tell that your Igbo stopped where you left off. And that’s how they will always know you’re not really part of what’s going on anymore.
[00:08:22] Paula: And so it’s a bittersweet experience.
[00:08:25] Nwanneka: It is always.
[00:08:27] Paula: Okay, so now let’s move to where we are now. So this is your new country? And I can tell immigration here was hard. You mentioned that at the beginning. Did you, where did you find your strength to be able to cope? Because immigrating can be hard, as you said. You are familiar with the place, you’re familiar with the food, people, everything there, and then you relocate. And for some people you relocate through no choice of yours because your parents bring you here. For others, sometimes it’s work, it’s for better opportunities. But whatever the case, you are leaving something behind, and then you’re in the new place. And that place could have been a place that you were anticipating, you know, you could’nt wait to get there. And then also it could be a place that, never wanted to be in the first place. So tell us about that.
[00:09:25] Nwanneka: I think for me, the romantic idea of coming to US was because my father lived here. And when we were finally like, oh, we’re moving. That was really where I’m like, oh, this will be good, right? But two things have happened. My mom had a great part in raising us back home, because she, and I always remember if there were issues, right. In terms of, if we were scared or, we would, her home was always what I thought of safety, right? It didn’t matter if it was simple, going back to my grandma and my grandpa and her siblings, to me, that was always a safe place. So now we come to this place where we didn’t know anyone, she had no family, and we even, we moved to an area where it was predominantly Caucasian. And at the time I didn’t even think there was such a thing. It sounds very childish to think it. But you know, when you’re in a country where it’s only you guys, you know? And the only thing separating you, it’s more of class, you know? We weren’t wealthy, we weren’t that upper class, we didn’t have all those fancy things. So to you, you always assumed this operation in all the world is, we all look the same like me. And it’s all a matter of is this person Yoruba, Hausa? All those kind of things. Or Igbo, are they well to do? Will they discriminate because I’m female? A female that’s poor. And so you come here and everyone they sound weird, the food tastes weird. But to them they think they’re progressive. But in your head, you’re like, no, I didn’t move here because my place was not progressive, I had to come here. I don’t think you get strength from that. I had years where I was crying a lot. Sometimes you in an African household, I’ll say Nigerian, cause that’s what I am.
[00:11:29] Paula: That’s what you are, yes.
[00:11:30] Nwanneka: You are not even allowed a lot of emotions that signal you are displeased with a decision, that’s you as a child. So when you a child, the dynamic is very much, you do what you’re told, you listen to instructions. And anything that sounds like you are displeased is an affront and an attack on the decision maker. And I think if we were more emotionally intelligent as a people, the one thing I would tell parents is when a child hates something that has nothing to do with the fact that you made the decision, maybe they’re just really sad that things are so different, you know. And they don’t understand, there wasn’t a prep, you know. If you look at corporate America, before someone comes into the work, right? They do orientation. Let’s tell you what you’re, you know, even if it’s not a hundred percent accurate of what they’re to see. Now they’re aware of how do I go to the browser? How do I clock in? How do you know? If I’m salaried, do you want me to work, you know, past my time? We didn’t get an orientation of what to expect, you know? So it’s like, and I think if I, it’s such a lonely place. What I’ve always told parents who ended up with that same situation where they’re trying to move into America and you know, do that. I would tell them, be patient, be patient with your children, be patient with your spouse. Nothing is an attack on you. And if you don’t have to do it, like there were people I would tell them, if life in Nigeria is good. Like there were people who had a good. And you’re just trying to flex to people that you went to America. Don’t do that. You’re going to tear your family apart for no reason at all. And it’s not worth it, unless you have to do it. I definitely understand. But if you don’t have to do it and you’re like. I have a really good friend since we were kids. Do you know how many times I’ve invited him to visit US? He has said no to me every time. He’s like, “no, my life is okay, the craziness over there is not what I want”. He’ll visit other countries, but he’s like, “no, I have no need to be here”. So I tell Nigerians, please speak in your heart truthfully as to why you’re coming here. And if it’s just to show that you can be better than your siblings. My father had a great reason. Education was inconsistent. So if that’s why you’re bringing your, I absolutely understand. But if you’re doing it just a flex, okay. It’s you know, everyone, everyone has their own destiny. So I do give people that feedback.
[00:14:19] Paula: So you’re saying have a purpose, that’s what I’m hearing. Have a purpose, don’t just come. But you gave all the reasons, just because you want to seem like, okay, I’m abroad. I can afford to be abroad. My children are going to be, you know, US citizen or UK citizen of. As you said, in your dad’s case, it was education. But for the most part, let me think about Nigerians it is education that makes them go anywhere. We have our Nigerians even in Alaska. Where there is an educational institution you must find a Nigerian.
[00:14:53] Nwanneka: Yeah. It’s a hard conversation, and it made me always sound to people back home that I was unappreciative and uneducated as to the struggles of Nigerian, you know. It’s like, oh, you’re saying that because you are living in the US, you know. But you, and I know, even if you get to a destination and you see the carnage and all the things that you’ve had to lose, you know. Even if you’ve made it to that destination, your sense of what you will tell people will sound very different. It’s more cautionary. It’s not don’t come or don’t do it. My thing is please be prepared to lose these things right? Please be prepared to talk about these things. Please be prepared to understand that there’ll be seasons of loneliness and you have to explain racism to your children, sexism to your children. Things that they would not even think of. Now they are, you’re basically punishing them for not preparing them on your behalf. And that’s what I always, and I think I mentioned this to you. I have no fault in strict upbringing or being a disciplined parent that we’re not even, we’re talking two different things. I’m saying no, I’m telling you, prepare them and be okay having emotional and deep conversations when they’re afraid of something that you’re telling them to do. Just because you told them, and you’re inserting your authority is not going to mean anything to a child that doesn’t understand why the kids don’t wanna play with them and why they don’t want to respect them. Like not respect, but disrespect your kids every day. And some, most times we were the ones who made all A’s, we were the ones who excelled. But your grouped as very trash, you have no sense, even though you are more educated than even the American kids. So it’s those things and those experiences are not singular to me. It’s when I mentor kids, it’ll be the same thing, it’ll be the same conversation, it’ll be the same displacement mentally. Even rich kids who study abroad, they could be rich all day, at the end of the day, you’re still African you’ll still have a measure of disrespect. And it’s going to make you feel like what’s wrong with me? So.
[00:17:33] Paula: That’s a good analogy. I think probably, I mean, this is a conversation that needs to be heard now. And it’s probably a conversation that your generation is going to be more vocal about. Because, and I’m sure I am your parents generation. And our generations we didn’t talk about feelings. I remember telling my children that, I said, my mother said the only, as a kid the only thing you felt was, you know, a smack. It wasn’t abusive, but it was a smack. She said, that’s the only feelings. So like, if I’m sad, you know, children are sad that the assumption was that you get over it. Other people have done it and gotten over it and so will you. But some things that I think we trickle down to as I probably our parents generations didn’t put into account was that their formative years were in their country. And so they didn’t have to deal with some of the things that they expose, unwitinly exposed their children to. Because they were now as parents looking for better places, educational wise, et cetera. At the same time, they didn’t understand, you know, as you said, emotional intelligence pretty new. Understanding that children should express themselves. Remember it was a generation of be seen, children should be seen, but not heard. And now, now what’s happening is that we, I think having lived abroad much longer beginning to sit in our children. That you know, these children may be African, but they’re living in America. And so some of the things of American culture has impacted them and we have to make ourselves aware of them so that we can have a conversation that matters to them. And I’m thinking more and more is gonna be your generation. Your generation, that you are hybrid in a way, but you’ve been able to pick up things and you’ve able to understand, you know, that. Children are more than just, oh, I’ve given birth, I’ve had a child. Children are emotional creatures that you need to nurture. And you need to provide for them, not just physically or, you know, make sure that they have food and shelter. You also have to take care of other things that are going on in their heart. And I think that conversation is gonna probably be more your generation than it was our. Because, as I said, my mom used to say, children should be seen and not heard. And the only thing, if ever you feel would be a smack to get you in line. You know, if you keep asking question, “why, why, why”? They say, “why”? Must you know, everything?
[00:20:29] Nwanneka: Yeah.
[00:20:29] Paula: You know, just do it.
[00:20:32] Nwanneka: Yeah.
[00:20:32] Paula: Cause that’s what they knew.
[00:20:34] Nwanneka: I’m going to just say this because I think regardless of the situation you end up with ,with your parents. I do wanna say that one, it’s hard work, and I admire people who do it. But I admire people that have the same, close to the same mindset of myself. Of I’m going to wait till I’m way older, or I’m not going to have kids at all. And either I’m, co-parent or mentor. And I think we have to stop seeing that as a shame or an affront to parenthood, to the parents we had. Because basically when you see someone who’s saying that they’ve observed it, they. I don’t make this decision selfishly. It’s not because I haven’t taken care of kids. I’ve seen how very quickly they can shift to where they’re in a lot of pain, and if you’re not equipped to deal with that, I don’t think you should have kids. I don’t care what culture you’re in. It’s unfair to have seven kids or eight kids or 20 kids that you’re not prepared to say this one, or maybe three may have deeper emotional needs than just smacking and giving orders. And I have this conversation with American parents. I don’t, when I mentor their kids, I would always start out with. Please tell me what trauma you’re inflicting on your kids this year so I’ll know what I’m dealing with? And they’ll kind of like, they’ll be taking that back. I’m like, yeah, because you guys give me new and interesting things for me to help guide your children through. So instead of having me ask the child who did not inflict the trauma, let me just ask the parent, what trauma are you giving them or allowing to happen so that I can know how to mentor your kids this year? And I think if we are more honest to yourself, like I even have African parents who they’re like, I’m just having two, that’s it. And I’m like, good for you. You’ve assessed what is possible for you and you’ve said, this is what I can deal, so I can give them attention. Or I’ve had parents who are like, we have to have five because I financially can take care of five, I emotionally can take care of five. I’m like fantastic. And, you know, and the thing I love about the Nigerian people is the ability to, is the ability to grow anywhere. Put us in any situation, we will probably make it heaven if we want to. And we will keep going until we reach the destination, right? And when I, this is a side note. Sometimes when I realized that when I get employed with employers, right? The first thing is, well, she sounds very different, like she could be from different parts of the world. But then they bring me on board and I give them their name. I just realized what facial expression they used to make, and I didn’t know what it was then. But basically when I’ll go to finally meet them, this is their expression and I kid you not. They’re like,” oh”, Like they’re relieved. They’re like, oh great, we have a Nigerian, this is they’re gonna work hard, and they’re intelligent. So it’s a great presentation of who we are. So it always makes me kind of like saddenend, not because you don’t everyone’s life when you they had an experience with the wrong one, the one that didn’t come to work, the one that didn’t put effort, you know. Because majority of the time, by the time you walk on, walk into any door, once a professor senses that you’re African there’s that, oh okay, good. I know this person is going to be respectful of me. They’re going to even give me insight that I may not know their parents are going to be on them. They’re going to take their time seriously, so. That I admire it, and I’m super like, I’m disciplined. Even as an adult, I still wake up early, I read and meditate in the morning, I have an exercise routine. And I can trace that all back to the is point that I got from my parents. And I’ve never been that person, well, you know, this happened to me I’m just gonna go opposite and just not do anything with my life. And I think that’s the lesson and story. They are hurt, they’re told by their colleagues, well, if you don’t teach them to fair you, they’re just gonna do whatever. And I, what I’m telling people to define for me is, what is whatever right? And you find out whatever is not even, oh, they’re going to live a good life without you. Their whatever is immediately, they’re going to become a prostitute. I’m like, are you an, like, I go back to that, are you an idiot? Like, are you an idiot? And then I joke with them, do you know it takes skills to be a prostitute. You didn’t teach us that, you know. It’s like, and then they’re more upset, they’re like, what are you talking about? I’m like, do you know their skills to every job we didn’t get that skill because we’re so repressed and so afraid. You can’t be that and be good at that job you’re telling our parents that that’s what we’re gonna lead into if we don’t follow their every command. So it’s that rhetoric of they’re going to do things differently. Let’s define what differently means, right? And what are we afraid of? Like, if I have a child and my only idea for them is, oh, they’re gonna be a doctor and they’re gonna follow my command like they’re a dog. And then my child comes to me and said, “you know, mom, I think I wanna be a designer”. Then suddenly what my child is bad because they’re telling me an alternate universe for themselves. So let’s start with being truthful and define what the other is. What is that other? If my child says, “hey, I don’t wanna be X, Y, and Z”, I don’t wanna be a teacher. I want to be, I don’t know a chef”. I’m like, you know what? If that’s what you, we’re taking you to the best you’re getting to the best school for that thing you tell me, you wanna be. I think that’s the dialogue we should have differently. Let them make money in that field you didn’t think they could make money, and let’s see where they go. And if it doesn’t work out, remember we’ve had this conversation. I’d rather be there supporting you and it works out that you can cancel the fact that I didn’t stand in your way. But remember, if that child ends up making that life you hated work out they’re not coming back to you. There was no support there, so what should I come back to. It worked, I had to crawl 8 million ways. I could have gone one way, cause I see my white friends making it. But you made it hard for me. It was always a argument against your authority, and they still make it. Those kids don’t have any relationship with their parents. So it’s more of how can we salvage the two worlds, the child and the parent. So we all feel that we’re supported. I think that’s where my conversation always leads to. What kind of relationship do you want with both parts at the end of your life?
[00:28:05] Paula: And those are deep conversations that can only start with a conversation. And I think that’s what you are doing. Yes. You are spreading awareness, you are a child of Nigerian immigrants who. From what I’m hearing, experience things that looking back now, you would not want that to happen to another child. Especially in a foreign environment or in a place other than, in your case, Nigeria. And so I hear in you a voice of an advocate, I hear in you, a voice for as an advocate for children of Nigerian parents, of Nigerian immigrants. Because I heard two things. I heard the pride that, oh wow, we are instilled with discipline to get to a place and make it happen and excel. But I also hear, the flip side to that is, however, in this environment that we are in, we have to take note that they alternate the alternative ways of making a living that are not necessarily. I don’t want to use the word, not necessarily not accepted by the society. But are ways in which if that child is passionate about it, stand with that child, support that child, be there for that child. I know most times, well, I think statistics have shown that if you love what you’re doing, whatever job it is you are gonna do, you’re gonna excel at it.
[00:29:50] Nwanneka: Yes.
[00:29:50] Paula: So if you are a designer and you love your job, you’re gonna be the best designer ever. If you are a dancer, you’re gonna be the best answer ever. But it matters to that child to know that you’re supporting them.
[00:30:11] Nwanneka: On the topic of that, I think what I will also point out now that we’re discussing it is, when parents are in disagreement with any type of field their child should get into remember that’s okay right? You can tell a child, I don’t want you to do this field and then present the reasons right? You can still tell the child, “no, you have to study this because it’s more recreative”. But I’m here to understand why you don’t want to. I’m here to hear why you want to do this other thing. And perhaps, maybe can we find an alternate school that you can do both. I ended up doing both. I studied business, I still taught dance and I still competed in bodybuilding. All the things they didn’t want me to do. None of the degree they supported. But I still ended up doing it and I still, I take care of myself. No one has ever done anything for me. So I, but there wasn’t that conversation of like, “what would that look like if you were to chase that”? What would that do? But it was always a feel, well, that’s not what’s done, you know. Bring shame to this family and this and this. And I said, okay, well, what if that child said, I don’t wanna be part of this family? And it’s not shaming me as a family, so I don’t know what this conversation is doing for me anymore. And I hear this a lot, I hear this a lot, and I hear where the older adult is like, you know, I’m so, there was nothing for me there. And then remember when you miss something, right? Your head goes to when I was in that space, what emotion did it bring for me? And you see why people are able to heal different relationships. And then we don’t understand, we’re like, ah, I thought you said it was not, you know, because they’re able to think of things that they missed. They’re like, you know what? If we can focus on that, then this is able to be repaired. Then you have the flip side it where the person remembers even the good parts, but they always remembered there’s always a bad part right after. And when they think of that and that’s how they always felt, or it made them feel like they could themselves turn into that same way of thinking, then it doesn’t move them to go back to that at all.
[00:32:41] Paula: So what would your solution be?
[00:32:50] Nwanneka: My solution, like anything in this world is, there isn’t a quick solution there’s only an opportunity to have conversations. The same with the race issue in this world, you have to have conversation and you have to have uncomfortable conversations. And you have to be okay knowing that it has nothing to do with disrespecting you as a person. All the person is saying, can I talk to you about a different way of thinking? I still tell people, what is your objective at the end? Right? What are you, are you striving to say, “I want people to think I’m in control and I’m the big guy”. Great. You have your kids, so they’re 18 and they won’t see you again. If you have, if that’s your wish, your wish will come true. And yes, your colleagues will think you have respect and you have no kids. Good job for you. But don’t come to my inbox crying to me anymore. Because as a child, I used to think these parents or fathers whose kids in African cultures didn’t speak to them was, what did the kid, oh my heart feels for you. Let me be the so-called stand in daughter, cause I understand. Then you become the adult, and you just find that you could never talk to these adults, and it makes sense. So I have that conversation. I’m like at the end, what do you want? It’s all about you. If that’s what you want. Yeah, keep going, keep disciplining your kids like that. Like you are a godlike creature, they can’t ever question you everything they do is wrong and they never feel good enough. Or you can say I’m still in control, but I wanna listen to what’s actually happening in my household. Isn’t that the only difference between a great CEO and any CEO, you still have to come to work. I can’t be like, no, I’m not coming to work today cause you don’t listen to me. You’ll get fired. But another CEO will say, well, “why are my employees not wanting to come to work”? Let me figure that out because it’s not just a one employee thing, this is, I see a turnover every five months or every four months. Like, I get it, but what’s going on with my company. And then you see how they revamp the company to figure out how can we retain employees who are leaving at a quick rate? So that is a conversation, it’s not about changing your person, or leaving your leadership, or your throne. It’s about, I wanna figure out why this isn’t working.
[00:35:32] Paula: I think you hit the nail on the head, and that’s why I say, Nwanneka, you are the advocate. You are that voice. You are the person who can bring awareness to these situations, because people can’t give what they don’t have. And when you don’t know what you don’t know, you don’t, you can’t do it. So what you need to have voices out there who are saying, “right, this is what you are doing”, but look at the outcome or consider these alternative or open up your mind to embrace other things. And it’s only when, sometimes that conversation is had, and like you said, the hard conversation. That people, not everybody, but some people have their times where they sit back and rethink or recall the conversation of that advocate and say, mm-hmm, , that’s true, and I can change.
[00:36:30] Nwanneka: Yeah.
[00:36:30] Paula: And many times people don’t know what they don’t know.
[00:36:34] Nwanneka: Yeah.
[00:36:34] Paula: And this is the time to start talking, this is the time to bring awareness to it. Because your parent’s generation, we are getting, we are all getting older. But you know, your parent’s generations are probably grandparents and they can ensure that, that they can ensure that that way of thinking is changed. One of my guests recently said she and her husband have decided they’ll take the best in all cultures or in everything. They’ve taken the best from their, she’s from Cameroon and he’s from Congo. They take the best from there and they take the best from the Western culture and give that to the children. They said to their children, they said, there’s some things they tell the children look, just throw in the trash. And there’s some things that they tell themselves we need to throw in the trash. I think those are conversations I need to be having. And she too, similar to you, she is very instructional in or intentional on how she talks to her children. And even in how she mentors, she mentors children. So. I think it’s a conversation that’s worthwhile having. Things can’t change until, as I said, people don’t realize they don’t know everything. And that their alternate ways of doing so many things. It’s not just what they know.
[00:38:09] Nwanneka: And, you know, it’s so funny, when I’m working. So I’m in a leadership role in work. And I remember one parent of mine asking me, “well, you know, how to even get along with people there”? You know, because in their imagination, because I don’t listen to everything they say, it must mean I’m a rigid leader. And I said, “no, we don’t have disagreements because I do take the bullet and I do hear when my team does not like what I’m doing”. I’ve been in emails where they’re like, “oh, you could have done this differently, your teams think you could be supporting them in this way”. I’m like, oh, that makes sense. And I have to talk to my team. What I don’t do is, well, what I’m doing is what I was taught, so I’m not changing that. See, I would not make it in leadership. So we’re not talking about, I think people think because you don’t communicate to them means you have issues communicating with everyone else. No, you’ve equipped yourself to communicate, even when things are hard for you, even when you’re hearing unpleasant things about yourself and you learn to adjust. And it’s not because in the workplace, it’s also in your friendships. Friendships you value, and you say to yourself, ” hey this is what I want. You’ve learned to kind of communicate that. I’m so sorry. Do you see he’s very needy? He’s like, you’ve been talking to someone without me. This is, but yeah.
[00:39:40] Paula: Oh, he is so cute. What type, of what breed?
[00:39:43] Nwanneka: He’s a pit bull.
[00:39:45] Paula: He’s a pit bull. See, that’s another conversation that we have. The assumption pit bulls cannot be friendly.
[00:39:52] Nwanneka: I know.
[00:39:53] Paula: And trusted.
[00:39:54] Nwanneka: They are big babies. If you treat them well, they’re big babies. And so his thing was, you’ve been talking, I’m hearing your voice, but I’m not seeing you. So he’s like I’m gonna let you know I still exist.
[00:40:09] Paula: But, you know, even talking about pit bulls and dogs in particular, I grew up in a culture where your dogs lived outside not ever inside. And I said, never will I ever have a dog. Now I have a dog, and now I understand. And it took time, it took time. My son really asked me for this dog. And I reluctantly said yes. And I would tell you Nwanneka, his name is Haven. Haven is a blessing to the family. I’ve seen on, what should I say? Unconditional love met it out to each member of the family. He sees you, you can go upstairs and come back down to like, you know, he hasn’t seen you in 20 hours, you know?
[00:40:58] Nwanneka: Yeah.
[00:40:58] Paula: Like, hello, you know? And people told me that, but until I experienced it, I could not relate to it. And so that brings us back, me back to the conversation we’ve been having. Until sometimes people experience it, or until they, you know, open up their mindset to, oh, let me just give it a try. Then they cannot relate to those conversations. This conversation has been amazing. It’s been deep. But we’ve touched things that I think need to be talked about. And things that need to be talked about by non, other than you. Because you, we all have a purpose and there’s sometimes we don’t understand, and I’m not saying that’s the case with you. But sometimes it begins with one voice and then another. And so you bringing up some of these topics as the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, and even you are an immigrant too. Because you came from Nigeria when you were, how old? You said seven.
[00:42:04] Nwanneka: Yeah.
[00:42:04] Paula: When you were seven. And so your formative years were in Nigeria, you still remember things. And so, and that hasn’t left you. But at the same time you’ve lived here, and so you’ve been exposed to things that if you were back home, you would not have been exposed to. So how would you summarize everything? I mean, having come here, parents. Having come here as an immigrant, as a child of immigrants and as an immigrant yourself. And now we’ll fast forward, and you don’t have to say your age. We fast forward to 20 plus years.
[00:42:39] Nwanneka: Yeah. I’m in my early thirties. I don’t mind. I think it’s a privilege to even get to this point in my life.
[00:42:44] Paula: I agree. I agree. 100%. Every day is a blessing, cause some people didn’t have that. Blessing, yeah. So how would you summarize if you were, I wanna say, if you were to speak to, if you were to be a parent? That’s going that way. Let’s say you can now step into your parent’s shoes and be the parent of bringing a seven year old Nwanneka, what would you say?
[00:43:13] Nwanneka: I would first say every time you want to cry, know that I understand. And any time you want to come to me, and you find it difficult, here is a list of people that I trust that you can go to. And it’s okay if you don’t bring it to me because you’re uncomfortable. It does not take away my parenthood. And I’m okay with that, and I’m here to love you through whatever you need to go through.
[00:43:46] Paula: That is significant. And that my dear is what I think young, your generation of immigrants, and children of immigrants can do that would change a lot of lives. Because you’ve experienced it. And you’re talking from a place of, not a authority, but you talk from a place of having lived it, having experienced it, and now, knowing that this is a better method. So walk with me in this. And you’re speaking to people your age, and even younger who are coming up. Because there’s nothing new under the sun. What you’ve been through is not unusual, what you’ve been through is not unique to you. But there’s somebody who needs to hear this.
[00:44:37] Nwanneka: I agree.
[00:44:38] Paula: Cause that can change their life.
[00:44:41] Nwanneka: I agree.
[00:44:43] Paula: Well, thank you, Nwanneka. I just want to ask you, where can someone connect with you online?
[00:44:49] Nwanneka: They can find me, the best place that I communicate with people that I don’t know really is Instagram. They can find me, it’s called “Living The Life Podcast” on Instagram. That’s the best way, and I’m very responsive. Of course you can also find me with “Nwanneka Tesy” on Facebook. Just, I always tell people that, that’s the one I kind of use for people that I know well, or their colleagues, or associates that I communicate like this. So usually if I don’t know you too well, it might not let you add me. That’s just the way I’ve set it up. But yeah, “Living The Life Podcast” on Instagram is the best way to get a hold of me.
[00:45:34] Paula: Thank you so much. So for my listeners, if you have enjoyed what you just heard from Nwanneka Tesy, please head over to Apple podcast, Google podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else that you listen to podcasts and subscribe. I also would ask you to follow me on these platforms. And if you are an immigrant woman, from Africa. And I say Africa to mean all the countries in Africa. Africa is not a country, it’s a continent. Or if you are an immigrant woman from the Caribbean. And the Caribbean is made up of many islands, it’s not one place. And have found this story and the other stories that you’ve heard interesting, please let us know in your reviews. And even more importantly, if you’d like to be a guest on “Chatting With The Experts”, please head over to my website, which is “www.chattingwiththeexperts.com/contact us, and let’s chat. I’d love to chat with my guests.