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TCK of the Week: Interview with Maurice Diawara

Maurice Diawara
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Culturs’ Alicia Bonilla interviewed Third Culture Kid Maurice Diawara about his upbringing and family history.

Q: Where were you born?

A: I was born in Tokyo. I left when I was 11 and came here to America. 

Diawara family photo (Courtesy Maurice Diawara)
Maurice is pictured in between his parents and younger brother. Courtesy of Maurice Diawara.

Q: Can you tell us about your family?

A: My dad was born in a poor rural town in Guinea. My mom is Lebanese. My father is Christian and my mother is Muslim. Because my father is a diplomat we moved around a lot, which is why I was born in Japan. 

Q: Was the contrast in religious belief hard to grow up with?

A: No. My parents respected their differences and there were never any issues. I went to a private Catholic school until 5th grade, but I never felt pushed to believe what they believe in. I don’t consider myself Muslim but I have so much respect for my mother’s practice. 

Q: Can you tell us about your name?

A: Moustapha is my real name, but because it is Arabic my mom wanted me to go by Maurice so I could fit in better when we came to America.

Q: How did you feel when you first came to the U.S.?

A: Well, I was 11 when I came here. I didn’t think we were staying here long. Then my parents told me it’s a good idea to get our education here because there’s more opportunity. My mother is only here for me and my brother’s education. So we were approved to stay and go to school and that’s what we’ve been doing.

Q: Do you feel like you are a part of U.S. culture?

A: American culture has definitely influenced me, but I don’t consider myself an American. From my culture on both sides of my family, it’s very important to stay close to your roots.

Maurice Diaware playing soccer. (Courtesy Maurice Diawara)
Maurice in action during a match. (Courtesy of Maurice Diawara)

Q: What comes to mind when you think of home?

A: That’s a difficult question. Before I might have said Japan, but now I would probably say Colorado. My family and friends are here. 

From my culture on both sides of my family, it’s very important to stay close to your roots.

Q: Do you want to go back to where you were born? Why or why not?

A: Yeah, I would want to visit. But not to live there. I only have memories of when I was a younger kid, so now I feel like I don’t have much there. Like I said, it’s the people that make me feel at home. My people are here in Colorado, so I’m happy here.

Q: Where do you see yourself a few years from now?

A: I play soccer competitively, so I plan to continue to do that and eventually settle down and have a family. Possibly living in Europe or here in the U.S.  

Ruth E. Van Reken, the co-author of the book “Third Culture Kids,” spoke to a class at Colorado State University about her story and makes a profound statement: “By looking at what we share we can see what is different.” Discussions, Q & A’s, and the power of the social media space all contribute to what inspire people to tell their stories and discover striking similarities with others in a positive manner. Like Reken mentions, it helps us appreciate our differences too.

It’s the people that make me feel at home.

(Alicia Bonilla is a Colorado native with a diverse ethnic background on both sides of her family. Bonilla has been involved in multiple organizations including Confluence Ministries and Young Life, serving as a mentor specifically geared toward minoritized populations and inner-city kids on a weekly basis. Bonilla has been fascinated with learning about other cultures since her experience with mission trips to developing countries and her study abroad experience in Europe.

Her writing began as a personal passion, later igniting the desire to share with others around topics in which people from all corners of the world may find interest. Bonilla enjoys recording her global experiences through personal journals and social media platforms.)

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