I’m KalKidan, and am 18 yrs old. I came to Canada 3yrs ago from Ethiopia, at age 15 with mum.
DIFFERENT SOCIAL NORMS OF DATING
The lifestyle here in Canada is very different than Ethiopia because back home people are more sociable than in Canada because people are very busy in Canada. Everyone is busy working, or going to school. There is really not a lot of time for people to socialize and even when people here in Canada are not working, their work schedule might conflict. There are less chances for people to meet here in Canada than back home. Back home you get to see everyone more because there is always someone in your area like family members that lives in your area and you get to visit and hangout with cousins and aunties and uncles.
In terms of dating, it easier to date in Ethiopia even though it’s not open. It’s like everybody is watching, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Back home you are not only your parent’s child, but you are everyone’s in the community. So if you are dating, you have to be very private and lie about it no matter what. There is always that one person that will be watching you wherever you go and if they see you with a boy, they will tell your parents about it. In Canada, it is very difficult to date as well because of the closeness of the community. Kids are more likely to date; Here you can walk home with a boy and it’s normal because he can be just your friend. But back home, that can never happen. People will call your parents and ask who was the boy you were walking with. Although it depends on your parents too, if the parents have lived in Canada for more than 10 yrs, their responses to their kids dating might be different than a parent that has only lived in Canada for 3 yrs.
Parents have a bad feeling about dating. They view dating as a form of disrespect and feels like the kids are disrespecting them. The parents of Canadian-born white people and Aboriginals seem to have it easier when it comes to dating. I personally am not dating because of my parents’ pressure. When I’m ready to date, I will have to keep it private. When it comes to dating, I don’t discriminate, as long as we get along. My friends, on the other hand, are dating but are hiding and lying about it.
WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT SEX, THE PARENTS FEEL LIKE YOU WANT TO HAVE SEX
In terms of sex, we don’t talk about sex. My mother only wants to hear about my school progress. Even in Canada, I have never talked to my mother about sex. I will not because she might think I actually want to have sex. In Ethiopia, we learned about a lot about sex education, such as girls’ club. Here, sex education is more detailed than back home and there is no judgment. You are free to ask any questions and not be held in judgment. I remember back home in one of our groups there was this one girl that was asking about more details for the teacher to expand more on her teachings and the teacher got upset asking her why she was asking for more details. Basically, where I grew up in Ethiopia, you can’t ask any questions or others might judge you. The teacher would want to know why you are asking such questions. They feel like the right
time is during marriage when it comes to sex.
It’s hard to fit-in and balance all cultures
l couldn’t believe it when I came here and see people holding hands and stuff. But then I was like that is their choice and their way, and it’s none of my business, when I see them now I’m not surprised. I’m more educated on that than I was when I was back home. For new African youths in Canada, I’ll say keep busy and stay positive and focus on school. Age doesn’t define your maturity. Don’t fall into peer pressure; be safe by using protection. And when you are mature enough you do better without the fear of judgment. Don’t feel like you have to have sex when you are in a relationship.