The Summer Olympics are happening and I am excited! As a kid, I remember the excitement of watching the opening ceremony and looking for two teams, USA and Sierra Leone. Why both? Well, both are important to me. I am an American, born in the USA, but my parents immigrated to the USA from Sierra Leone. I am also a Sierra Leonean. Right? In my opinion, I am both. I celebrate both and I love identifying with both.
For me, it’s simple, but there is an ongoing discussion about identity as a First-Gen kid. Like many, my parents like to make it very clear that I am American with African parents, while my American friends love to emphasize how African I am because I have African parents and I look really African, even if I was born in the same hospital as them . What should we claim? Why does it matter so much? Well, it matters. Indulge me and read on…
Meet 2016 Olympian Hafsatu Kamara
As a First-Gen kid, Hafsatu’s passion for Sierra Leone is one that many of us First-Gen kids identify with and appreciate. To many, Sierra Leone is known to many as the little West African country that endured a long civil war in the 90s as a result of government corruption around a precious stone called the Diamond. The aftermath of the war was damaging to the economy yet, progress was beginning to happen. Then in 2014, Ebola showed up, and things took a turn for the worst. In conversations with peers, we tend to agree that it is tough to be Sierra Leonean. Our story is riddled with turmoil. However, despite all of this, Hafsatu decided to represent the country of her parents. As a role model who has recently garnered the attention of many, I asked her to share some of her thoughts about her journey to Rio and the importance of representing Sierra Leone at the Olympic games as she competes for the Gold Medal in Track and Field 100m dash competition.
Miss GK: How long have you been a runner/sprinter? What event(s) can we expect to see you participate in this summer?
Miss GK: How active were your parents in supporting your passion as a track and field athlete? Are you able to relate to the “African Parents” memes or was your experience different growing up?
Miss GK: What was it like to lose your first event (if that has happened) and what motivated you to continue to pursue your passion?
Miss GK: Tell me how it felt when you learned that you qualified to compete in the 2016 Olympics.
Miss GK: What made you decide to compete for Sierra Leone versus competing for USA? Have you dealt with any negative feedback?
Miss GK: How can people support your journey at the Olympics?
Miss GK: What is one thing that you wish more people knew about you?
Miss GK: Freestyle!! (Anything that you want to share that was not asked?)
Miss GK: What type of impact do you want to make in Sierra Leone?
Check back here for the follow-up interview when Hafsa returns from Rio! Go Hafsa!
As Hafsatu competes for the Gold Medal, let’s support her and Team Sierra Leone as they compete at 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Created by a team of First-Gen Sierra Leoneans, you can purchase the official 2016 Olympic Games Team Salone commemorative shirt. A portion of sales will help fund Hafsatu’s future endeavors to develop Athletic Camps for young athletes in Sierra Leone with a #SALONEDREAM.
Follow Hafsa as she competes for the GOLD for Sierra Leone on all social media platforms @HafsaKamara.