Nafisat acquaints Ames High with Nigerian culture

Moving is difficult, especially when one is young. It entails the hardship of leaving everything familiar and moving to a completely new situation. The process of making new friends and adjusting to a new school, neighborhood and city is daunting. This process is even more complicated when the move is to a new country, something that junior Nafisat Ibrahim knows all about. Nafisat, or Nafi for short, is from Badarawa district, Kaduna City, Kaduna State in Nigeria. She is in Ames through a foreign exchange program, Iris, that only takes the best students from Nigeria. There are some major differences between living in Nigeria and the United States, including the pace of life, school, cultural views of gender and race, and the opportunities available. In Nigeria, there is a relationship-oriented culture, versus the time-oriented cultures in the United States and most Western countries. For example, it is easy to make friends in Nigeria. “In the United States, people meet their friends in elementary school and grow up with them,” Nafi said. “In Nigeria, most people change schools so you meet different people, and it is easier to make friends there. Back home, we would just show up to our friends’ houses without any invitations.” Another aspect of a relationship-oriented culture is that time is not planned. “We have African time, where you add three hours to the agreed upon time,” Nafi laughed. Nigeria’s school system is similar to here, with students spending six years in elementary school, three years in junior high school, three years in high school and four years in college. All students are required to wear uniforms to school. There are more private schools than public or government ones, which cost more on average. “In school, you are with the same people and stay in the same seats during the day,” Nafi said. “The teachers move from class to class. Also, even if you are smarter than your peers, you still cannot take advanced classes.” Nafi cited this difference as one of the things she liked about living in the United States. She said that here students can “be advanced, compete and try their best.” There are also different cultural perspectives in Nigeria. While Nigeria has a predominately black population, there are also a number of Chinese. Also, in Nigeria it is generally believed that men are superior to women, but this is beginning to change. “When a woman is first married, her fiance and her can choose whether to share rights equally or have the male be in a superior role,” Nafi said. Also, the opportunities available in Nigeria are different from here mainly because scholarships are not offered. “Everything depends on how well you do in classes,” Nafi said. “Also, your parents pay for college because teenagers do not work. This means if you are poor, your parents probably cannot afford college, and you will not go.”