Prepared by Lucia Valente, Founder and CEO, CCN
Before I went to Nigeria, I really did not know what to expect. Due to extensive biases that we all experience or observe about certain countries and regions, we often have incomplete or inaccurate views and beliefs.
Most people who know me, get that I usually leave myself open to experience and try to deflate preconceived views and wait until I have the experience before forming strong opinions.
The majority of people who I know and interact with were quite uncomfortable about my decision to travel to Nigeria. That is fully understandable given the biases in the media about this region. As noted, I tend to take a slightly different approach to life and life experiences. I probably have more of a free spirit than people think.
And so, off I go to Nigeria.
Before going, I was in touch with several academics at educational institutions in Nigeria. Plus, I had a contact there who I got to know over the last several months and who would be my guide – Olumuyiwa Omole. Olumuyiwa had introduced me to other academics in Nigeria and I was to meet with them during my trip. He also introduced me to two NGOs whose focus is in education and could avail of our work.
On February 7 my adventure in Nigeria began. The posts – that we will post over the next few weeks – provide a high-level overview of some of my experiences.
Olumuyiwa was my guide and, also, we lined up a driver Umerah Ifeyinwa Abolanle (Bola) to take us to our various meetings in different parts of southern Nigeria. Umerah Ifeyinwa Abolanle (Bola) is an amazing driver and got us safely from place to place over several days.
Given that Nigeria is such a very different environment to what I am familiar with living in Ireland it was important that I had such support during my trip. Driving in Nigeria is quite different – the idea of driving in defined lanes on the highway or roads appears to be an unknown concept. So, I am forever thankful to both Olumuyiwa and Bola for their support during my trip.
There are so many stories to share and will do so in the forthcoming blogs.