Etymology Proves That I Am Not MundaneSome students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
My surname "Sackey" originated from an Old English term 'sacc' meaning "a sack". In Italian, Sackey is the diminutive of the family names "Sacchi" and "Sacci", deriving from "Saccus", which is Latin for a maker or seller of a sack.
In no way are my family involved with the making or selling of sacks, but this last name has been an emblem throughout my life, reminding me that I am derived from various cultures, from different parts of the world, even if my birth certificate says differently.
I actually am 100% Ghanaian, possessing no Italian nor English ancestry in my blood, but I feel my name gives me license to integrate those cultures. Whenever I asked my parents why I had an English and Italian last name, they would rebuke my question as blasphemy. My parents were very traditional in their world views and they were not fond of me acquiring cultural interests outside of my West African background. Therefore, I never asked them where the name came from. We are clearly Ghanaian; born, polished, and imprinted. Etymology, however, conveys more than that. For almost ten years, my inevitable curiosity with my ancestry has developed my infatuation with language.
English was foreign to me and I was foreign to English. Back in Ghana, my parents communicated with my two other siblings and me through our native languages: Ga and Twi (pronounced "tree"). They never expected to migrate to the US, so they mainly focused on having us develop our domestic tongues before introducing the globalized idiom to us.
Then my father won the lottery in 1999. As a consequence, my family and I moved to America and I was forced to assimilate into a new environment. I was three years old and not able to articulate nor to comprehend a single English word, except for my own name: Sandra Dede Sackey. It was a huge cultural shock for me, residing in the South Bronx amongst thousands of West Indians and Hispanics. My mother, an advocate of education, was fluent in five languages (including English). I was fluent in only Twi and Ga. But now, I had to learn English -- and fast. My mom bought chapter books and situated me in many afterschool programs to help me polish my language acquisition.
As I became more and more fluent in English, I continued to speak Twi and Ga at home so that I would not lose these languages. And I started to learn others as well, like Spanish and Italian. I am now familiar with a total of five languages and want to continue to learn more. I love not only speaking different languages, but learning about those cultures, immersing myself in the ways other people live.
In college, I plan on majoring in theater and minoring in linguistics. Both of these disciplines attract me because of my appreciation for communication. In theater, language is more about performance and engaging; helping an audience to understand a play or film. In linguistics, I get to explore my love of language, etymology and the excitement I feel as I discover the connections between two completely distinct cultures.
So where is all of this love of language taking me? I want to indulge my love of performance, my love of the theater but I also want to keep acquiring new languages, keep practicing the ones I know and learning more about the different cultures in the world. I am still a Ghanaian; a young woman of West African ancestry. But I am also a citizen of the world who feels a connection to all that is around me through a love of language.Who is the person you dream of becoming and how do you believe Syracuse University can help you achieve this?
Engaging with people through different levels of communication is one of the most meaningful goals that I plan on achieving.
Whether it's through theater, foreign language, or even sign language, I want to be able to share mutual understandings with a variety of audience. My mother, serving as a great support and influence for who I want to become, encourages me every day to pursue a field within communications because of her prior experience with the great advantages it has to offer. Back in Accra, Ghana, she studied multiple languages in Secondary School such as French, German and a couple of native Ghanaian languages like Ewe and Fante in hopes of one day serving as a bilingual secretary. Even though she did not become one, her experience with a variety of languages has aided her throughout her restaurant business. She now creates various French cuisines that she was able to conceive more knowledge of through her understanding of the French culture. Familiarization with multiple languages is an excellent skill to possess because of the different fields of study it can introduce you to. I do not, however, intend on becoming a replica of my mother. I believe that we all as human beings are configured to learn from each other in order to put our understandings into action. Her compliance to forge a living out of a binding skill she has endorsed throughout her childhood reflects my decision to minor in Syracuse University's department of Linguistics studies, and major in Acting. Through both of these disciplines, I want to utilize the information and skills that is given to me in order to achieve the University's Mission, Scholarship in Action. Both areas of study offer opportunities, such as studying abroad, that encourages the engagement with not only our local community, but global community as well.