Archive for August, 2010

Weekly Òwé

This proverb offers advice about personal grief. It means we have to deal with personal strife on our own. Even though friends and family are there to help us, in the end we have to overcome problems independently.

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Weekly Òwé

Proverbs are fundamental to the Yoruba language. Yoruba people use these poetic sayings –one or two lines of words– to convey a message with more meaning than a 30 minute conversation could accomplish. A proverb (òwé in Yoruba) can be used to give advice, give warning, express reproach or express compassion. Children start learning them from their parents, grandparents and school teachers when they are very young. Hundreds of Yoruba proverbs exist. I think they are all beautiful and fascinating to learn. When I get to Nigeria and start whipping out proverbs, believe me, the Nigerians will be astonished.

I love these proverbs so much that I am going to start posting a ‘Weekly Òwé’ for everyone to learn. They are all figurative. The literal meanings don’t really make sense, but that’s how Yoruba is. It is a poetic, figurative language, something that doesn’t suit literal translations well but makes it all the more fun to learn. So I hope you find meaning in each one as the weeks go by.

I chose the first one because I think it’s pertinent to the situation I’m in right now. Ki e gbadun òwé náà. first proverb

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It’s all happening.

After two months of waiting, deciphering confusing bureaucratic emails and gloating over the fact I would be in Madison–not Nigeria–next year, it turns out the trip is back on! I will be going to Nigeria for fall and spring semester this year. I leave my hometown of Chicago on September 5th for a two-day orientation  in Washington D.C., then ship out for Nigeria the night of September 8th.

I received this news in a quite nonchalant email from the President of American Councils in late July. Before posting the news here (for the whole world to see), I had to make sure it was real so I wouldn’t put everyone, including myself, through another emotional roller coaster…and it’s true.

Essentially what happened is UW decided not to sponsor the program after commissioning an investigation into University of Ibadan which turned out positive. Gary Sandefur, one of the UW Deans overseeing this whole situation, had a letter drafted to send us students in the program saying that the report came out positive and UW would support our study abroad program there. He sent this letter out to other UW staff involved and magically, overnight, the letter turned negative, claiming the report said Ibadan was not safe enough and we could not go under UW auspices. That is the email I received mid-July, to be followed up with a condolence email from UW Chancellor, Biddy Martin. My hopes were crushed at that point. I started preparing for the prospect of being in Madison this fall: finding a place to live, and classes to take. More emails came from high-ups at NSEP and UW. More hope crushing ensued but I never lost determination to figure out how to get there some day.

Two weeks later, an emailed tagged IMPORTANT arrived in my inbox. It was from Dan Davidson, the President of American Councils, the sponsoring organization for the program in Ibadan. It said the trip is back on for fall and spring semester. I read it, closed my computer and went to teach a software class at my summer job. My head was spinning.

As I understand it now, we are back to the original plan of going as a non-UW study abroad program and transferring credit through Bryn Mawr College. The program specifics in Ibadan are the same– we are still doing an internship, taking clases at UI and living with a family. Originally there were 7 of us going, now there are 4. We will miss the three students who won’t be with us. My professors have assured me that the whole experience will only be better now because everyone in Ibadan kept preparing for our arrival, even though the trip was “temporarily” cancelled.

So it looks like all is not lost, in fact much is gained. I will be actively blogging North of Lagos after all. Stay tuned…

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