My hair and my skin might make me look like a different person from a different country, but the answer to the question of where I’m exactly from remains unknown.
I grew up in a country that I didn’t know wasn’t noticed by other countries. I came to the United States and many people asked me the question, “Where are you from?” and I answer that I’m from Eritrea. I then quickly notice the empty faces and the confusion. I then quickly ask, “Do you know where Ethiopia is?” Then when they answer, I tell them it’s right next to it and act like everything went fine.
I always hate it when people ask me this question because I have to explain where it is and how to pronounce it. Some people tend to get it fast, but some don’t get it at all.
At this point I have learned that everyone is not the same, and so I try not to stress a lot when I get asked where I am from. I have learned to answer this question in a simple way which is, “Eritrea, next to Ethiopia.”
I find it crazy how it’s there but everyone runs over it like it’s an empty street. I think it’s beautiful and peaceful, and it’s sad that no one really knows what it looks like or where it’s located. It’s a country where everyone cares for and loves one another. It’s very small and hard to see with all the other giant countries surrounding it. It’s a country led by a dictator, but that never stops people from making sure everyone is connected. For example, during the holidays it doesn’t matter whether you’re Muslim or Christian because everyone will end up going to each other’s holiday celebrations. It’s almost like fuzzy socks that keep everyone warm and gathered together.
I sometimes wonder how it has gotten to this point where many people don’t know where other countries are located. However, I remind myself that we live in a big world and it’s your choice whether you want to learn or not. No matter how frustrated, irritated, and angry I feel, I can’t blame anyone for not knowing my country.
I don’t only want my country to be known. I also want other countries to be known because there is so much to learn and so many other cultures out there, hidden.