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Living the ACD experience: Africa trip yields newfound respect, appreciation

In September 2016, my family and I traveled to Cameroon, a West African country, and primarily stayed in Limbe. Limbe is a beautiful city within a valley that overlooks the eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean. Since my wife Marceline is from there, we spent a lot of time with her family, as well as did some touring. I have been to South Africa twice, but this was my first time in Cameroon. I always wanted to have as authentic of an experience as possible during each trip. In true African culture, there is a strong sense of solidarity and pride, as is the case with Native Americans.

In addition to being some of the most hospitable people, Cameroonians are undoubtedly the hardest working people I have ever seen.

In Limbe, it was common to see young children take long trips carrying jugs of water from a public tap to their homes atop a hill for their families to wash and cook with. There were teenagers who sold roasted meat roadside for long hours into the night after they arrived home from school. I witnessed elderly women who walked through the local markets holding large bags of yams, plantains and other harvested crops to sell, all while balancing sacks of grains on their heads. Most people in Cameroon who till the farmlands do so without the use of farming machinery. Unfortunately, the majority of the people are impoverished and do drudging work to survive. Despite these hardships, Cameroonians are generally upbeat people and love to party.

My time in Cameroon further strengthened my appreciation for the blessings we have not just as Tribal citizens, but also as Americans. Although the United States has a plethora of issues concerning its citizens, people living in the U.S usually have more opportunities to have even a decent quality of life compared to those living in other countries. Prior to my trip to Cameroon, there were days when I would loathe having to cover certain assignments for work. I have always been willing to do what was asked of me, but would sometimes do so with reluctance.

I became angry with myself when I reflected on the times I felt any sense of entitlement for simply being a Tribal citizen. Many of the Cameroonians I spoke to expressed that they felt there was a ceiling to what they were able to accomplish due to the lack of opportunities. I met a few people there who had advanced degrees. They were only able to find employment in fields not requiring much more than a basic education. As Tribal citizens, there is no limit. We are afforded every opportunity to live out our dreams and to be successful. It is easy to complain about things we feel we lack, but that prevents us from acknowledging what we do have.

Money no longer drives me as much as it did years ago. As mentioned in my past ACD columns, I initially chose to work for the Tribe to give back to my ancestors. I am always gracious and honored to benefit from being a Tribal citizen. There is no reason for me to ever complain.

As Seminoles, we are very fortunate. In all honesty, the routine that comes with being a disciplined professional has been an adjustment for me. I continue to learn patience and the importance of self-discipline based on my experiences thus far in the ACD program.

Since I have been employed by the Tribe, my motivation has been propelled by the change I know I can contribute towards the Tribe’s future. I willingly feel forever indebted to my ancestors to continue carrying the proud legacy they have left behind for us.

Aaron Tommie
Aaron has worked for the Tribe since 2015. He is inspired by people who are selfless, humble, and motivated. His family is the most important aspect of his life and is a die hard fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. He came to work for the Tribe to show his appreciation to his ancestors for the blessings Tribal citizens receive based on their foresight and the sacrifices they made. He loves mysteries and conspiracy theories and is a huge on a great story line or plot in something that is supposed to entertain him.