About this blog.

Ashiya. It’s a Cameroonian word I learned from my high school calculus teacher who worked in the Peace Corps in Cameroon for three years. It doesn’t have a direct translation into English, nor any other language that I have found, and yet it expresses a sentiment that I feel so often that I wish we had a word for it. In english, we try and say “I’m sorry” when a Cameroonian would say “ashiya.” It’s the feeling that someone is struggling, having trouble, or is in pain, and yet you know there is nothing you can do for them. If you saw an old woman carrying a heavy load on her back back to her village, you could say “Ashiya Mama” as you walked by, acknowledging her struggles, and also that there is nothing you can do to alleviate her pain. This word keeps me grounded, while giving me hope. It seems contradictory, but it makes sense to me. While ashiya serves to remind me that, though I wish I could, I can’t help everyone in the world, I can’t fix every problem that I see even though I may want to, I can’t save every child from dying, give every person food, or give each child the same opportunity to succeed in this world. But at the same time, it reminds me of my teacher, of how she gave up three years of her life to help children have a bit better a life, a bit more of the pie, a tiny sliver of opportunity they wouldn’t have normally. It reminds me that people have the ability, as a whole, to change the world, one little village, one child at a time. It also inspires me to do the same, and I have no doubt in my mind that I will. The idea that I could be doing something to change the world and alleviate a little bit of the great amount of pain there is in this world, but then chose not to is something I could not live with. I have been given so much in this life, and while sometimes I feel like I’ve been given too much, and that I don’t want it all because I feel guilty for having so much when so many have so little, I also know that I can harness what I have been given and spread it across the globe to other communities. “Ashiya” lets me acknowledge this somewhat guilty feeling, and also makes me remember that, while sometimes I want to push some of what I’ve been given away because of the guilt, that in the end I can counteract this guilt by spreading what I’ve been given around to better others’ lives. It is my daily inspiration to keep going, to push through struggles, because somewhere, someone’s struggles are a thousand times what I could ever imagine, and they push on, they still keep moving, and while I can’t help them now, that one word allows me to acknowledge their struggles and keep them in the back of my mind to help solve them later. Ashiya.


One Comment on “About this blog.”

  1. Ashiya Ivins Says:

    I have not yet in my life heard of Ashiya meaning this. Being my name, I’m always interested in finding out what it is.
    How beautiful. Thank you for posting this.

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