Continent: Africa, Country: Nigeria

Image by exchanges.wiley.com

Image by exchanges.wiley.com

I’m in Africa!  Since I was a child, I have wanted to come to this amazing continent.  I am simply thrilled to be here.

My first impression of Nigeria is that it is a country burgeoning with hope.  Everywhere you look buildings and roads are being constructed.  In Abuja, the capital and where I am working, the red earth is being shaped to accommodate the large influx of people moving here to work for the government, embassies and NGOs.

I arrived just 12 days ago during my new school’s spring break.  I had finished my Myanmar school year at the end of February and then flew back to the US.  I spent a wonderful three weeks in beautiful Oregon where it was cold (to me), and after a 25 hour flight arrived in Abuja where it is hot, hot, hot!

I am happy to report that hands down, I have never been treated with such inviting warmth, support and immediate friendships as I have here at the American International School of Abuja.  School.Front EntranceEven the immigration and customs officers at the airport were smiling, inquisitive, offering to help and generally joyful.  Crazy!

And it didn’t stop at the airport.  The Curriculum Coordinator who had been covering the 4th grade class I am taking over for the rest of the year, has been nothing but accommodating; helping me transition into the classroom, driving me everywhere to get myself settled and acquainting me with the surroundings and new friends.

I have already been to a pool party (around the pool at my apartment compound), a bush bar (outdoor, under a thatched roof, beer bar) an Indian restaurant, a German Riding Club dinner and a HASH (Hash House Harriers). And today a lovely Nigerian woman came to our apartments and gave us massages.  Nice!

As to the school, it is great.  It is a K – 12 with about 500 students.  The administration is wonderful and organized.  The current principal is the founding principal (20 years!).  They have a wonderful library with computers and loads of books as well as a librarian that gives the kids weekly lessons.  A computer lab, an olympic size pool, lots of playgrounds, a stage in the cafeteria…  My assistant, Ms. Lucia is a dream.  She is wonderful.  She is very respected here and her smile is effusive.

My 20 students come from seven different countries.  Here is a list of their names as I just love the sound and mix of them all: Demateide, Saidu, Amber, Kenya, Omer, Abigail, Othneil, Kambili, Rai, Emmanuella, Hope, Kofo, Lucy, Gabe, Proshun, Theadora, Davide, Fred, Tomer, Halimah.

I will get a better picture of them – but here is a quick snapshot of the class:

Classroom.Day 3Tomorrow starts week 2 of teaching.  The kids are wonderful so teaching is easy.  My only complaint is that they love to talk, but then again don’t most 10 year olds?

As many may know, Nigeria is also having troubles with different factions causing serious harm to others.  It is mostly in the north.  From what I have been hearing from locals and expats, the main reason for the in-fighting is the current president is a Christian and it is apparently time for a Muslim to be president.  I have been told that as the country is nearly 50/50 Muslim/Christian that it is expected that when presidents change, so should the religious conviction of the new one in office, keeping it equal-ish.  The current president (a Christian) took office when the last president (a Christian) died in office.  He is now running for re-election.

Here are a few shots of what I have seen so far.  I am told that taking photos is not looked upon favorably, so I mostly likely will stick to my iPhone for photos while I am here, so the images aren’t as sharp.  Also it is the Harmattam season – when the winds from the Sahara desert kick up and fill the sky.  So the air looks like massive pollution, but it is mostly from the Sahara that is just north of us – kind of cool actually! 🙂

Yam Mounds

Yam plantation – mounds and mounds and mounds.

TRAFFIC.Intersection

The crazy traffic. Worse here than in Mandalay! Here they all have cars and go everywhere they want when they want. Most cars are dented on all sides.

Money

The local money: Naira (Nie Rah).

Home.Neighborhood street

A lovely street in my neighborhood.

HASH.Newbies Circle

HASH: All of us “Newbies” getting initiated.

HASH.Hill Top2

HASH: Top of the hill.

HASH.Hiking2

HASH Hike: hiking up the hill through a cashew plantation.

Gretchen.HASH

At the top of the hill during our HASH hike.

Construction

Construction…

Abuja.Market

Side of a local market.

More to come.  I’ll be here until early June.  Then back to Oregon to start a hybrid (on-campus/online) graduate program in Geography and then next fall heading to Guangzhou, China to teach secondary Humanities.  A fun few years ahead!

I’ll be back with more photos and insights soon.  Take care!

Gretchen

 

3 Comments

Filed under Adventure, Education, Fourth Grade, Nigeria, Photography

3 responses to “Continent: Africa, Country: Nigeria

  1. Sandy Anderson

    Well, we’re off on another adventure, and then another, and another. Love coming along via blog and photos. Love, Sandy

  2. leamcleod

    Wonderful to see and hear from you Gretchen! Sounds fascinating and like a real community!

    Lea McLeod, M.A. Founder, The Job Success Lab (+1) 503-694-8778

    Get your free email series: 21 Days to Peace at Work

    Find Your Freedom Here: http://bit.ly/JobSuccessLab

    Follow me on Twitter! @LeaMcLeod Join me on LinkedIn!

    From: Sunshine Impressions Reply-To: Sunshine Impressions Date: Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 7:33 AM To: Lea McLeod | GMAIL Subject: [New post] Continent: Africa, Country: Nigeria

    WordPress.com Gretchen Fogelstrom posted: ” I’m in Africa! Since I was a child, I have wanted to come to this amazing continent. I am simply thrilled to be here. My first impression of Nigeria is that it is a country burgeoning with hope. Everywhere you look buildings and roads are being “

  3. Thank you for posting this story. AISA is a school my wife and I are considering teaching at.

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