My name. “No man is an island”.

Sakura” ( 桜), or “Cherry Blossom”. One of the national flowers of Japan.

“The tragedy is that you have to twist the knife in your own gray matter to make this defense work.”

Comparing my skin to the skin of the majority of my classmates would most likely put us in the same group. Compare our culture, and we would come from two different sides of the world.

With a household filled with Liberian and Japanese “territories”, they came together when the term “party” or “drunk” came into the equation. Alcohol was always a driving factor for our family, and the inducer of all the arguments that spiraled out of control in our home. Casablanca, Choukachou, Chibuku, Ibwatu, Happoshu (発泡酒), Sake (酒), and Umeshu (梅酒). These names became more commonly spoken than the names of those who lived with us. A “brewer” which uprooted more problems in our family with every sip someone took, alcohol took its place as “the one who calls the ‘shots’”. With a future split from my Japanese side, I could never again have easy access to the culture I was most interested in.

With this split affecting my perception of what “family” was, this was the first push to delve inside family archives and put public facilities to good use, in order to to expand my knowledge. This prompted my first steps into my education, as well as understanding the constant reminder of my family splitting apart.

My name. “No man is an island.”

The name “Menduyarka” splits itself down the middle, having both Liberian and Japanese meaning. Throughout my experience in lower education, this name would be derived into adorable, childish nicknames, and even into a term bullies would use to tick me off. I progressively began to hide my name, in hopes of the torment ceasing. “Samuel” became my newfound persona, in which I could express my ideas and not be judged by the content of my name.

This became a tactic in order to protect myself from an environment to which I couldn’t adapt.

Adapting to the places that I have been in was the only only way out of situations that I didn’t want to be in. I had to attempt to make amends with a new persona to add to my arsenal if I didn’t feel comfortable in a certain location. I had the possible outcome of shutting down whenever I equipped these said personas, in hopes of not being found out. I had to reject intellectual stimuli or diffuse them with my sarcasm. I had to cultivate my unawareness, and shape it into a tactic for resolving future problems. I had to convert boredom from a malady into a way of confronting the world. No one should ever have to hide like I had to. Free Expression should be a right to every student, regardless of aspects within their personalities that sets them apart from everyone else. Differences should be embraced and celebrated. If anything, these differences lead to informative opinions that can be built from certain experiences. They are the ones that drive the world to equality. The ones who create the diversity.

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