T minus 1 hour until Kevin Barry, Lauren Halloran, Cara Harshman, Keegan O’Neil, (a.k.a. four ex-University of Wisconsin-Madison students and proficient Yoruba speakers) and Moses Mabayoje, our resident director at the University of Ibadan, board a flight headed to Lagos, Nigeria. We have been in Washington D.C for the past three days attending our American Councils pre-departure orientation. Diplomats, doctors, security officials and Yoruba professors have imparted knowledge, a bit of fear, some laughs, and most of all overwhelming inspiration to our spirits. We were pampered with Indian, Lebanese, Mexican and Mexican food, heavenly hotel beds and the astonishing views of America’s capitol city. I certainly feel motivated to move there someday, hopefully with a job for the government (but not before I put my time in as a journalist).
One of our workshop leaders, Atim George (you must Google her because it would take 500 words to do her life any justice) taught us lessons about Nigeria I never knew before. She told us that in Naija (what Africans call Nigeria), all things are possible and impossible. In order to understand Nigeria, you must accept paradox, she said.
As American students we will be seeing Nigeria through a different optic. People will run up to us and want to touch our skin to see if it hurts because they believe we used to have black skin but it peeled off. They will bombard Lauren because she is blonde. We are as ready as we can be for this. We wouldn’t have lasted this long if we weren’t flexible and open-minded.
So we are in for more than 20 hours of traveling, taking us to Frankfurt, Lagos for a night, then, our city: Ibadan–just 136 km north of Lagos. Thankfully we upgraded to economy plus…
See you all in Naija! O dabo!