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International Exposure
By Odera N. Okakpu

Nigerian students who pursue education abroad become Nigerians with “international exposure”, identifiable by certain character traits imbibed in them over the course of study. When they return to Nigeria, they are more likely to be hired because companies are rest assured that not only do they have the basic skills to perform basic duties, employers have confidence they understand basic office ethics, otherwise lost on the average Nigerian.
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For a very long time I misunderstood the desire to be abroad. For some, the outright desperation to leave the shores of Nigeria. But after being here myself I realize how myopic I really was despite being an American citizen! Not only is international exposure advantageous to personal growth, it sheds light on how backwards Nigeria really is.


There is nothing like learning by experience, we all know the value of that. So with living abroad, comes a different kind of social learning that mirrors the society it is operating in. The first thing I have noticed is how nice people in America seem. Not how nice they may actually be; that I cannot actually quantify. But many understand the importance of at least appearing nice in public for the benefit of others. It may be just to be polite, it may be just to not ruin another person’s day, but across the board public courtesy is to be nice. In Nigeria we do not have such mantras. Looking back at many experiences in Abuja, Lagos and Yola, I realize it was like we were all competing on who could get one over on the other. We are oblivious to the way our mood affects others and we are always ready to fight. 


It is possible the conditions Nigerians face psychologically make it hard to live life thinking about the next persons happiness when you are not even happy yourself. It is possible that certain aspect of our culture have embedded into our subconscious a particular kind of sadism that prevents us from just being happy. I have not conducted research into this, I am not a psychologist but the number of people in my lifetime that have asked me in awe "how do you stay happy ALL the time?" have helped me arrive at this conclusion.


On a community development level, the understanding of how America caters for the down trodden or otherwise ignored in society proves the heart they APPEAR to have even more. Whether true or not as a collective society they know how important it is to ensure babies and children get food to eat. They know how neglected old people feel as they age. They understand that the handicapped just want to do daily routines the way everyone else does. More importantly, corruption is not absent in America or any developed country, but those engaging in corruption are wise enough to know if majority of the populace is content, is able to progress and dream of attaining wealth, they will not have time to pay attention to whatever corruption their politicians are dabbling into.


The most glaring is how "abroadians" deal with their youth population. They give them the space to flourish. They provide to them the keys to life to enable them begin to think like adults as early as possible. They make sure they receive enough education about a wide range of things. They understand the need for them to learn the ethics of work quickly. THEY DO NOT NEGLECT THEM.


There is so much, the average citizen of Nigeria will not be able to comprehend simply because he has not observed anything like it before. The mere fact our leaders believe empowering us is by providing scheme upon scheme and even handing out wheel barrows proves the level they are reasoning on, a very low one. It is worrisome though, considering how many Nigerian politicians love to vacation abroad and own homes in exotic places. Why has guilt or shame never led them to aspire to such heights at home? Is Nigeria as a whole not worthy of having a drop of international exposure to affect those that may never get the opportunity to travel in their lifetime?


 

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