Transcript for September 2017

>> Hi, my name is Kenetta Smith, and I know some of you know who I am, and some of you don't, so I'm just going to give you a little synopsis. I'm a third year student at Rehabilitation Counseling Program, master student. I've been at San Diego State since my undergrad in psychology, and I am here to present on Nigeria. It's pretty much a picture presentation, and I will talk you through it. Luckily, I'd like to talk, so that's a little bit about me, and the reason why I wanted to do these experiences, because what you don't know about me is that I have Nigerian bloodline, and so it was very exciting for me when the opportunity presented itself. So again, it's my experience that I had with a study abroad in the spring of 2017, and then again I returned in the summer. This was my experience. So what is ASP? And that's pretty much what the experience was called. And it is an alternative spring break study abroad, which means you're not there for a whole semester. You're only there for approximately two weeks, and then we have to think about why we wanted to participate in this study abroad, and really it was because, like I said, I have a bloodline of Nigerian culture, and I wanted to know more. I had been doing research about my family for about 15 years, and it wasn't until about 2013, '14, things started to come into play, and I was able to understand my father's Cuban heritage, which led into his Yoga tribe.

I also wanted to just know more about the culture, and participate. Seeing that it was spring break I assumed that I was going to have this break, like most people do, but instead there was much work. So while we were there we spent 10 days. There were 23 students, one of which was a male. He got his own room. I feel a little some way about that, but, and there were four lectures. We did our lectures there at the University of Lagos. Another thing about going to Nigeria was that San Diego State University has been traveling to [inaudible] since 2003. They've been going to South Africa and Guyana, and never had we ever participated in Nigeria. But because of our Provost, to Kuka and Wamaka [inaudible] said, "How come you haven't went to Nigeria?" He proposed that to the Africana Studies Department, and we were going to be the first people to go to Nigeria. And so we were excited. We got to go to the University of Lagos. They were our host, and that is the front entrance to the university. And that second picture is the Senate building where we got to meet the administrators. That is the Senate building where that is some of the routine that administrators. You noticed that all the students are in the front, so I'm way in the back. Everyone was asked what were their majors were. Majority of the students who were undergrads, and their major was Africana Studies, and there were about three of us who were master students, and my study happened to be of great interest to them.

They set up a classroom for the four days. That's pretty much what our classrooms look like. That's not a typical classroom, but we were given like VIP privileges. [laughs] Part of the hosting they wanted to take us around so that we would learn about slavery, and what it meant to them and how it was presented in their perspective. We actually are professors actually got to present a little bit on how it was perceived for us from the United States perspective. There's a lot of difference. So one of the things that was interesting for us is they have lots of slaves ports. So they took us to the Vajaggery slave port, and there they have a multitude of museums where we went into this Mobey Royal Family Museum. And then the actual Vajaggery slave museum where they were teaching us about the slaves being transported and taken from their tribe onto where they didn't know where they were going to go. And so while they were teaching as -- I don't have enough room for all the pictures, but irritation [inaudible] the negotiation process, and the negotiations were really done with the chief so that Mobey royal family, Chief Mobey was actually one of the slave traders. He was trading the slaves that he owned being of Nigerian descent, and sending them over to the unknown. He did not know where he was sending them to.

He thought that they were going to -- they're still considered slaves, but they were going to be doing some work for them, and it was going to be, you know, pretty much legit work of what they were doing for him. They introduced the yokes to us, which was very heavy. I watched my cohorts put on the yoke. I touched the yoke. I did not want to put the yoke on. It's a bit emotional. And they showed us the cell, so over to the far right is the slave cells, and they are small little rooms, probably about the size of a nice sized restroom, just a lot of people just kind of really squished up in there, stacked on each other, and not being able to use the restroom. So they're pretty much using the restroom on themselves. And they had small little holes, little ports at the top for them to have oxygen. So then we were made to get on a boat that looked like a submarine, and walk across boards that looked like they were going to break. So a lot of us, like, no, you know, [laughs] we didn't really want to go, but we didn't want to be left behind either. And so we went over what looked like a lake, and people were hanging by the windows and I kept saying, there's gators in that water. And so they thought I was playing, they were like, yeah, there is gators in those water. And I'm like, oh, my God, get us off this boat. [laughs] So we went across this pond let. I'm not sure what it was, and we ended up on the other side, and we had no idea where we were going.

Nobody told us. So when we first got there we've seen this big rock, and we went, wait. This is the rock of a journey unknown destination. Is there no return? We were all having the same feelings that some of the slaves were going through, because we had no clue what was going on. And we were very, very nervous about the situation. So on our journey we have this nice little pave, these bricks laid down, and they're like, oh, that's really nice. It ended shortly [inaudible]. That walk was about the distance of being at the San Diego State Education Business Administration building, all the way till probably I would say our baseball field over where, yeah, where the police department is. That's a long walk. It really wasn't that long as long as you're a walker. But the fact that you're in the sun, don't know where you're going. It was long. It was hot. It was tedious. That nice little walk, that nice little brick right there it ended really soon. So we were walking in dirt and a combination of dirt and sand, and the dirt was kind of like clay. So we're walking, and we were walking, and some of us are not -- we do not have the right shoes for this, because we really did not know where we were going. We just knew that we needed to be relaxed in our clothing. And we were told to be modest in our clothing.

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A lot of us came out of that modesty really fast, because we had tank tops up under. [laughs] So it was really interesting. The walk for most of us was interesting. Some of us got really emotional. At that point there were two of us, me included, that got sick. We were just dehydrated, and they were dousing us with water. It was a lot. At the top it says, the annotation [inaudible] well. This is the well where as you began the walk they actually gave the slaves water, but the water was intoxicated. It was -- there were something in the water, and to this day they still don't know what it is. They never drink from the well, they never pull water from the well. The well is sacred, but they would give the water to them, and they thought, oh, you know, they're hydrating us, but it actually was just to keep them in control. So during our visit they set up all these community sites for us to go and visit. And that is what some of you remember donating. I asked for a bunch of donations, supplies, school supplies, toiletries, things of that nature. And we didn't know until we got there where we were going. And we went to visit the School for the Blind and Partially Sighted. We also went and visit next to it was the School for the Hearing Loss, a few orphanages, and staffing school. So the School for the Blind is what most touched my heart. It touched my heart because me being rehabilitation counselor it was a youngster who said, the question was asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And his answer was, "I'd like to be a doctor."

And the headmistress said, "Oh, no, honey. You can't be a doctor." Of course that touched me in so many ways. I'm like, hmm, I didn't get to hear that personally. I was outside, and because I was emotionally touched by the singing, and one of the officers ran, and said, "Wait, wait. Is this what you do? Is this what you do?" And I said, "What are you talking about?" He says he wants to be a doctor. [inaudible] said, Oh, okay. And she told him he could not be a doctor, but he reiterated the question for me. And is it possible? [laughs] And, of course, there are about 70 [laughs] sets of eyes on me, and I'm going, [inaudible] [laughs] So I'm thinking absolutely. The possibilities are endless. He may not be a surgeon. He may not be my surgeon. [laughs] But there are adaptive technologies that could assist him in making sure that his dream comes true. Just finding out where, when, and how, how to get it is something that I expressed to them, very nervously. That touched my heart, and then realizing that most of the schools, and this one in particular are self-sufficient. There are no government funding. All their funds come from donations or because they're self-sufficient, they all take a trade.

And so the School for the Blind is usually they do beading. They have other things, but they do these beadings, and this is a little coffee cup. They have these large mats, they have just beautiful -- can I pass them around? Can I move around? [laughs] They have this beautiful beadery work. And I'm looking at all of the beadery work thinking I can see, and I can't [inaudible] this beadery work so, so beautiful. And we bought tons of those. I bought a lot of little ones, and then a lot of us bought the masks, and just all those sculpted pieces that they made, and we're just like amazed. And so that's how they get their funding. And so for me that was what touched my heart. Think, oh, I'm proactive. I'm going allocate for this school for the blind, and I'm going to tell everybody about they need [inaudible] boards, and that's pretty much what I thought was going to be my participation. I did not think anything about rehabilitation at all. I was excited that they were learning these trades, but I didn't think that it would be something that I would hold more passion about. We visit all of the other schools. Those are our pictures of all the donations that you guys have donated, and really all of you guys who did donate, just really appreciate it. We have so many piles.

That is one of about nine piles [laughs] of sorting through. It's taking us about four hours of sorting through, making sure that the appropriate school get the appropriate donations. They gave us celebrations and provided us with entertainment and traditional dance and attire, so that we could understand the cultures of the evil tribe, the Uraba tribe. Much exciting. The kids in the green, those are the staff students. The students of the staff at the University of Lagos. I was most impressed with the school. Their language is English. That is the main language. They're learning math that I probably to this day cringe with. I was like, wait. So it was exciting because I was taking pictures of everything, going wait, why are they learning this? [laughs] So it was amazing. It's really impressive. So one of the things that I went in with were preconceived notions of Africa versus what I really learned. What I really want to share with you. But of course Africa is Africa for the United States. We only see it in whatever we get from television. And so my preconceived notions were that I'm going to go to Africa, and I'm going to see filth everywhere and I'm going to see little children with pot bellies, and [inaudible] everywhere, because that's what I see. I also knew that oh, Africa is, you know, the number one place for AIDS. And a lot of us just, you know, everything about Africa is poor.

There's much famine, and of course what we learned about slavery, which we got to learn about that. Oh, and everybody is a scam artist. Everyone, so don't trust them. What I learned was totally different from there. Yes, there is AIDS, definitely as there was AIDS in most countries there is AIDS. We in the United States cure our AIDS a little bit different than everybody. It's not accessible to everyone there, so that was unfortunate. Everyone is not illiterate. They pride education, like major. Like parents will do whatever it takes to get their children educated. And education doesn't stop in the primary and secondary level for them. They will do what it takes to get them in the universities. Their number one thing is doctors, engineers, and lawyers. So those particular programs at the university are impacted, but there's a lot of room. There's more room for them to join those programs than they are here. Also what I learned was everyone is not poor. The economy is really bad. I'm told that's because of their government. It has not always been that way. It's just what we see on television. Surprisingly in [inaudible] they have cable as well.

So they get to see what we see on television. I'm watching all these American shows, and everything, and a lot of the commercials are filtered, but they do get to see some of the commercials, and the funding for the African children, and it's not like that. Don't get me wrong, it's that way in some places. But what we don't really get to see is that there's a whole another side of Africa. So that being said, my impression of them is that Nigerian society, and I spent most of my time in Lagos. Big buildings looked like San Diego to me. [laughs] So, that was the marketplace. The marketplace was a little bit more home, more traditional. Marketplace would be something that we would call like the swap meet. So just a little bit more. Okay. A lot more people. A lot of push and shoving. A lot of traditional clothing. That would be the -- a lot of plantain everywhere. [laughs] A lot of fish on the side. The difference is we have like little 7-Eleven's to go into everywhere, and just a side vendors right there. And they are just like us. They have truck drivers, and teachers, and I mean, I didn't see much different other than the fact that the majority of the society, of course they're doctors in this society here. [laughs] You know, so I was seen as the majority, which was rare for me. It was like, oh, you know, so other than that, but they're appreciative of everyone, they love on everyone.

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When you walked off the plane it's what I noticed my observation was when you walk off the plane, and you are of their complexion, but they're not really sure where you're from. They say welcome home. When you are of a different complexion, they say it's nice to see you home in Nigeria. You know, it's just a little difference. I definitely recognize that everyone's embraced. There is nothing that we see on television. [laughs] That was against some of the things that I've seen that was like really nice and wholesome for me, because usually we get, you know, some really bad ideas of what Niger, what Africa is in itself. And so we stayed at the Eco Hotel, which is one of the nicest five star hotels there is, very secure so everyone can't just come in. And we had entertainers and sit right next to us without bodyguards, which was totally different than the United States. And we had fine dining, which let me tell you that salmon was wonderful, including the curry. [laughs] So, some of the students went to see poetry, and a little festival, and they made it to the newspapers to [inaudible] at the bottom and one on the side.

We were in a van all of the time, and we because we were Americans we always had to have extreme security. So we had one of the officers ride with us, and then we had an entourage of two in the front, and two in the back, two cars in the front, and two cars in the back. They are expanding. Japan is one of their largest contributors. So, no I have that wrong. I want to say China [laughs] is one of the largest contributors. Shoprite is where we like felt like home. It's like being at a Wal-Mart or a Target. [laughs] And also I was able to tap into my own heritage being there connecting with extended family members, and investigating some things that my father, realizing that he knew more than what he shared. And in 2014 I was presented with finding out that my father's lineage was royalty. So I am called Olary, and they were presented me with my Olary beads. This is just letting others know I'm with the royal family as a royal. We have the ceremony going on. I really couldn't tell you all about the detail of that, because at the time it was just like what's going on, but I will tell you my experience.

That is a retake of pictures because phone had died, but when I got there the family had bathe me, [laughs] dressed me, and that's a really interesting experience, because that is their way of bonding. And I was like, no, you cannot see what's under here. [laughs] So having them help me take showers, the showers were not what we had at the Eco Hotel. The shower was faucet coming out of the wall where the toilet sat, and [inaudible] and bowl, and throwing it and them handing me the soap. They're very particular, do not want the soap to touch the floor, the anything, so they were very clean about this soap. And so that was my experience, and tapping into my own heritage, and they showed me that there's a street called Musalu Smith Street to let me know that Smith was very alive in Nigeria. Some people that we met were the students, just people that we saw at the market street. They were very friendly. A lot of people who have been to Ghana notice the difference. They did not notice the embrace as us who had never been there. We saw them as very embracing, but the people who had already visited Ghana, said, no, they're [inaudible] they're not embracing. So I never have that experience. So I did notice there were a lot of stern faces, and I tell my children they can never say the struggle is real again, because everybody is really just -- they're busy workers. They're trying to get to point A, point B. Everyone worked. There's not enough employment opportunities, but there is a high rate of entrepreneurism. Everyone is selling something.

One way or another they're skilled products, whatever it takes, and are going to school, and they're pretty serious about it. They're very reluctant to leave your smile in the beginning. They want to make sure, like, is that fake, is that real? [laughs] So but once they kind of noticed like, you know, you're genuine, they really embrace you more, so then you become like family. And they have this saying where they say, hello Auntie. It's like, are you calling me Auntie? Like what does that mean. [laughs] So which basically there's a real admiration for you, so it was really nice. We became mentors to some of the students at Unilag as we exchanged information. So we were their American mentors, and they were not considered our mentees. They were our counterparts, and so they are our Nigerian mentors, which was an awesome set up that Unilag had for us, because on my return I was able to contact most of the people that I had met. So we felt really safe because I met them through the school.

So a couple of entertainers. If anyone is familiar with Degenis [SP]. He's a singer, and down at the bottom, I know there's a second part to his name. All I remember is Ace. He stills text me to this day, you know, letting me know where his concerts are, and all that, sending us pictures, and a couple of us still have his connection. And so it was great. So what kind of impact did that have on me? Well, as I told you the story about the young man who wanted to become a doctor. Going into the orphanages, and some of the other schools it truly touched my heart. So I definitely knew like, I definitely felt like I was home, and I felt like I was in a place where of comfort, and I knew that I wanted to return to kind of help to some capacity, but what was happening what I didn't tell you each day, I was being asked to come back to Nigeria and help with the vocational rehabilitation. [laughs] And I was thinking, okay, [laughs] but it kept happening every single day or someone would sit down and talk to me saying, so what is it that you are doing, you know.

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And I feel I'm working at the Department of Rehabilitation. Oh, okay, you know, just there were always just some kind of question about what I did. And we recognized that I was probably getting questioned more than most of my cohorts were. So I thought, well I'm going to come back for something, but I'm just not sure exactly what it's going to be, and I'm not sure how soon it's going to be, because, well it's a lot of money to get to Nigeria. And it just kept egging me, and just bothering me and bothering me, and it just felt like I needed to be doing something. I have many connections. I have family. I have friends there. I have established friends. I have new friends. What will I do? Return back to Liberia, of course. [laughs] So this summer I got the opportunity to go back, and I reached out and said, okay, okay what is it that you quite -- what is it that you want? You want me to come back. You even offered me jobs, and slow down, you know, we just wanted you to give us information about rehab. And I said, okay, well where would that be? Whatever you like. Okay, so can I present on career development? We would like to know it all. [laughs] Me too. [laughs] So the speaker, oh, my gosh. That's really vague. I ran to Karen. I don't know what to do. [laughs] It's really broad. And she gave me a lot of suggestions. [Inaudible] oh my goodness, they're asking me for this proposal. I don't know what a proposal is. How do I put this together? I thought you invited me. Why you making me do all this work? [laughs] But it had to be done officially, appropriately, and formally. And so I did a lot of work, but I knew that I was going back.

So I was preparing. Got to be preparing [laughs] for my big presentation there. Researching the procedures of our disability services systems here. Looking at the Disabled Student Services at the university level and the junior college level. Looking at our own department of rehabilitation, bothering Nelson a lot [laughs]. Tourers the college program kind of helped me with that program with learning their curriculum system online. Learning the workability. Workability three and four. And, of course, San Diego State University. [laughs] Researching their system in place, their government positions, and who the collaboratives were, which is really hard, and it is still confusing. Just understanding well what did Unilag have in place, and there's another university called the Cotonou U University, which has a vocational rehabilitation program, but it was too far for me to get to, because I definitely wanted to tap into it. But Unilag is very unique, and I'm not sure if it's Nigeria and itself are Unilag. It's very unique, because unlike our system we have a system in place for our students here. Department of Rehabilitation has a system in place for its clients. It's referred clients. It's walk in clients. So Unilag doesn't have that kind of system. There's a lot of collaboration. Well, they took us to all of these orphanage schools, all these places, and we were like, okay, what's the connection? The awesome thing about the first trip was it was all about me. [laughs] It is all about vocational rehabilitation.

None of my counterparts could really identify the level that I was identifying with. Like, what, you are teaching them how to, you know, do leather, make shoes? What is that like? Oh, my gosh. And how long are they here for? And what are you doing? How do you promote self-sufficiency? I had all these questions that they were probably like, where did she come from? Where my counterparts were like, oh, everything about them was just what can I do to help? What can I do to help? And for me it was what can I do help, but tell me more. Explain the system. But going back was more about explain the system. So they're very unique, because Unilag reaches out to the community, and everything runs through them and the community. If that makes any sense. So they actually have facilities on their land. The Unilag, like when you look [inaudible] say this is a big campus. Unilag is like a city in itself. As you're going down the streets, literally like big gigantic streets, you see houses has nothing to do with the students. You see medical facilities, nothing to do with students. They're embracing the community, and really putting forth, like saying, you know, here, we're here to help. And this is the population we're going to help. We're going to help them here. So they have them on the campus, and outside the campus, which is really interesting. And this is really interesting to know how involved they were. And so I also got the opportunity to talk. The first picture is that is me and Professor Mustafa. Mustafa is apparent, and you can see he's blind. This is slide six, and he was an awesome treat. A great personality and very humorous. He is the coordinator for the blind program they have on the university itself. It was interesting. I didn't know.

No one gave me the heads up. So I'm talking to him on the phone saying, "I'm standing over here. Where are you at?" [laughs] He's saying, "Oh, I don't see you." And I'm going, "Well, I'm right here." But nobody tells me, and then finally I look over and I go, "Is that him?" So I'm walking over to him. He laughs at me. He thinks it's funny. It's him and his assistant, and they're laughing. They think it's very funny. I think it's funny at this point, but at first it was like, oh my gosh. [laughs] But it was great [laughs] telling us about all the services that they have for the students. That's really what he focused on just teaching me about the services they have for the students, finding assistance. Their Braille center. That's what I got to see mostly was this Braille center of how they convert the books into Braille. And some audio books, but mostly everyone who's blind reads Braille. Again, that's the [inaudible] work from the School for the Blind. And we were able to go and talk with them some more, and the Wesley School for the Hearing Impaired. This is quite interesting that I didn't get to dig into the nuts and bolts of things, and the orphanage is the Treasure of Love Missionary. And no pictures there, and I don't have a lot of pictures, because I made that choice not to exploit. So my time there [laughs] did not happen the way I planned it. So I had to write a very detailed proposal of what I would be doing everything all day. But that is not what happened. So my time was spent mostly with my newly LAG mentor, who is Dr. Falliei. [SP] He always corrects me.

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Dr. Falliei is the Dean of Faculty of Arts, and he is the director of the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies. And the other is Dr. Peter Onee, [SP] who accompanied us on every single day that we had during the spring break. And he is the director of the Department of Philosophy. They had me at many meetings. Meetings do not necessarily start on time, as I know it as in America. Meetings started on time as they know it as Nigeria. [laughs] So there were lots of meetings. Meeting significant people in this field. One was I got to meet up with the staff of the Women and Youth Art Foundation. This program is totally awesome. Their focus is on those that are disabled, and they actually won an award, The Smart Award from Clinton. So it was really exciting. They're really proud of that. So it's real exciting. They said if I ever come back I'd be working more with that particular program, so definitely interested in that. And they were just going back. I spoke with many people from Moeschine, and I went to Benin just to observe people that were working that had disabilities of how they use phenomenal assisted technology, like things I wouldn't [inaudible] and I know in an AT class can I say whatever you can think of. It doesn't have that sophisticated. And I would walk in there and go, whoa. [laughs] So it was amazing, and it worked.

So hats off, Karen. Thank you for teaching me that. [laughs] And, okay, so I didn't just do educational things. I like to tell you I did, but I didn't. Nope. I enjoyed all the great food. This was at the mall. We went to a mall. We went to the movies, watched an American movie. [laughs] And they were having this dance presentation. They were doing salsa, like salsa. And totally what I wouldn't have thought of. You know, going back to this preconceived notion, so I was like what, you guys are doing salsa. [laughs] I didn't think you were doing it right, you know. It was awesome. It was phenomenal. They were doing some other dances to the point that watching them there was this point where I was really just overtaken by emotion. Like, I'm here. I'm here, and I'm experiencing this great culture.

That was -- Elizabeth was my personal host. She was there with me almost every single day. She is my dear heart. She kept me. She spoiled me, wasn't much I had to do. And she was a dear heart. And then we went to the club, of course, because non-alcoholic, of course, but we went to the club, because they needed to share with me what Nigerian clubs were. So you're going to do the same thing if you're interested in ever going to Nigeria for any studies, for doing internships or anything. They'll be doing the same exact thing. And speaking of internships, the facilities, especially the orphanages would definitely appreciate all the assistance that they can get. So the new impact. [laughs] What now? Something like I said before, that I learned is that Nigerians definitely love their country. One of the things that I heard prior to going was everybody wants to get out. [laughs] Or they say, they don't like their country. They love their country. It's a beautiful country. I kept thinking lions were going to come out of the bushes, but it's a beautiful green country.

And it was amazing. Of course there is the culture that we're not used to. There are cattle on the sides of the road. I'm like, whoa, are you going to get hit by a car. You know, there were people walking through the streets that I definitely would have been that you can't do that in America. You know, but overall it's a beautiful country. They love their country, and people that I did talk to I always have some interview up my sleeve. And so the people that I was interviewing were telling me that they really love their country, and that people, their family that has left are usually leaving to go and learn something new to bring back to their country. Learning new skills and education. Just being able to bring it back. One of the things that frustrated me most were they talked about the corruption of their leaders, their government, and not having enough employment opportunities, and China is coming in and assisting with some of the new things that are going on. And unfortunately they're not all Nigerians are being employed.

So that was a little discouraging for me. And so for me it was what can I do as a rehabilitation counselor. I haven't finished what I began. You invited me to come, and I couldn't finish what I began. And they invited me for five to six weeks, and I was only able to get two, and I get it now. I understand there are systems in place of being heard, being able to get me around, transportation is a little bit different there. And Nigerian time is different, so I get that too. So the time was definitely needed, and so the impact that I have in me now is I like to finish what I started. I definitely would like to finish what I started in some kind of, I thought in some kind of consultation capacity, something I'd like to finish it. I'd like to make sure that there's a bridge between San Diego State and Unilag. So my next step is I am hoping to be accepted for the Fulbright come next year. So I would be gone for nine months, and then return and focus back on my passions here in the United States. The big slide. Questions and answers. Any questions? Can I.

>> You said you want to go back and finish what you started. What are some of the things that you felt like you got started, that you like to go back and finish?

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>> So Karen's question is what are the things I'd like to go back and finish? So only initiating the beginning of just being able to -- the only thing I have to do is just to say, hey, how are you? I'm meeting you. I'm meeting you. Here's what I'm proposing. Because they weren't quite sure what they really wanted, it was really difficult. I'm not really sure of the culture, so it was really hard, because it was really stepping on like tiptoeing around, because I didn't want to offend the culture. There were particular words that were put in my first proposal that were totally offensive that I didn't know. And so one of those words in particular that I had the most problem with is my motto is psycho education. For them psycho in itself meant I wanted to do research on their client, on their students psychologically and exploit them. So it was like, who, you know, [laughs] that's not right. So changing that kind of verbiage, things like that. It's like I never really got to get into anything, because there was so much. You know, I don't know, cultural differences that I need to get over these bridges first. I need to understand me, and I need to understand them. So that would probably be the first thing [inaudible] nine months if that's a possibility. It's a lot of time to get to know the culture, understanding, learn the verbal language. [laughs] You know, and then really find out what they really want. [laughs] Any other questions?

>> So you get, you know, a chance to visit the, you know, some of the orphanages, and the School for the Blind. Did you get the sense that generally what the attitudes are among most Nigerians about people with disabilities, you know should they work or how much independence should they have? You know, those kind of things.

>> Yes. So there's been a big shift in that, because before being disabled was taboo. Kind of almost like throwaway. Like, oh, there's nothing you can do, but you're just encouraged to marry and find a life where someone can really take care of. You are not encouraged to stay on your family, but those things are changing or they've been changing throughout the years. I've been doing lots of research, and the fact that they were intrigued when I said, oh, vocational rehabilitation. Here's what happens, because that's what they're working on. You know, that's definitely one of their priorities, because it is a financial economy burden on the country. And so, and there is a crime rate. There is a crime rate with Nigeria, and especially there's a lot of begging. And I did get to experience that firsthand with the disabled community aggressive begging. So like in your face I'm going to push you begging. So I can definitely see where they're trying to get Nigeria a better look, because they really don't like, you know, Nigeria being known for being the scammers. The poverty, the, you know, so really the policymakers, the local policymakers, which is really roughly the educators of the university. They want to change that look of Nigeria. And so they want the disabled to be self-sufficient.

>> [Inaudible] Federal Government in Nigeria I mean, do they have, you know, a social security system?

>> They do not.

>> Like we have [inaudible] administration, like any kind of stuff like that?

>> They do not. They do not have any social security. There is no income. No supplemental incomes of any sort. No welfares, no government assistance whatsoever when it comes to supplementing financially. No Departments of Rehabilitation or anything to match that. There are agencies, what we would call our nonprofits. They're called NGOs, and I'm trying to remember what it stands for. Sorry.

>> Thank you. Thank you. And so they do have the NGO [inaudible] governmental organizations, which is really try a lot, but a lot of those organizations are non-governmental. They're not funded, and they have [inaudible]. Any other questions? I know you have a burning question. [laughs] Well, I just like to --

[ Inaudible ]

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>> So there was a gentleman who was working at a tire shop, and he had no legs. And he made a board, something -- I'm trying to think how I would describe it. Just a bunch of paddling boards together, and he put wheels on them. All the wheels weren't the same wheels, but it worked. It worked for him, and he slid around, and he pushed those tires and rolled them around. And it's unfortunate, because he, you know, things are a little different there, so it wasn't like he earned an hourly rate. He earns the tips that people give him. But he works there, and that's pretty common. And that was in [inaudible] the city of Benin. I have to say [inaudible]. Some other things was there was a gentleman who had lost his arms, and he had, I can't even put this into words. He had some kind of contraption he had around his waist that when he moves this arm it kinda helped him scoop up things. So like nothing I've ever seen. And I can't even articulate it for you. [laughs] I just really like to encourage those to take a step out and do something different. I remember coming in to my undergrad, and the master's program, and I remember it being said, Oh, you can take opportunities to study abroad. And I'm thinking I got three years. What I'm going to do, study abroad. I don't have time for that. [laughs] So, and also I was thinking, what kind of finance would pay for that. There were all kind of questions through my head that I never thought it to be a reality. Looking at it now, knowing how busy I am, and how things are going to be. If I get the Fulbright, and return to the United States my focus is totally going to be on what I need to be doing here. So I can't imagine putting it off, and putting it off, and saying, oh I'm going to do it in the latter, because the reality is I don't think I'll have time for it in the latter. [laughs] I just want to encourage anyone if they're going to study abroad anywhere, but Nigeria is an option. [laughs] Definitely.

>> Do you work with the [inaudible] logistics involved? It's like [inaudible] planning the trip and doing all these kinds of things?

>> Ok so I really got contacted by the Africana Studies Department, because I've taken a class there, but it was opened to all students. In fact, it was even opened to Grossmont Community College students as well, alumni, et cetera. And we were told we were going to get this phenomenal price. That's how it was like appealing. I think most of us paid about $800, $900 for a ticket, which is like half the price of what you would pay. And they connected us with the International to make sure that we had our passports correct, everything done in time. We had all kinds of sheet and reminders to let us know, hey, you got to get that in by the state. You know, to assure that our visas were done at the same time, and there were a little few hiccups. I actually picked mines up in New York. [laughs] So but they were on it. Rebecca is -- she's [makes sound] so [laughs] she walked us through mostly everything. There were scholarship opportunities. A lot of us went for some of the scholarships. I received $500 towards my first trip. Other people went through different scholarships, but that was one of the scholarships the international program offered for this particular trip. And basically just writing one page or two page essay about why we wanted to visit Nigeria, and what we were going to do when we returned. Did I answer your question?

>> Yes, that's good.

>> Okay.

>> You know, for student and other students here, you know, feel kind of on the fence about doing international experience like how would you say [inaudible] about how you see the world and how you think it's going to affect, you know, how you're going to function as a rehabilitation counsel after you graduate?

>> I see things differently with cultures now. I've always been one to say, oh, well maybe it's this or maybe it's that, but now I can say, oh, for a fact there are things like driving per se. You know, when we were driving, I always say San Diego is one of the melting pots of driving. And so you have to expect whatever you get. So there are lots of people who don't follow the rules, but the honking going on. So and [inaudible] and when you honk that means you've done something wrong. Somebody's honking at you they're telling you, hey you did something wrong. And I probably have had entire life my own road rage by, you know, but inside I'm thinking, what's up with you, right. [laughs] But they [inaudible] kinda see a little different as in honking for them means, hey look out, I'm coming. [laughs] So now we're a little bit more understanding. So I'm understanding in lots of ways, not only just the driving. I'm understanding in ways that I opened my eyes as a rehabilitation counselor say just because this is the way that America does it, doesn't mean that it's necessarily right. Yes.

[ Inaudible ]

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>> Yes.

>> How things are going [inaudible]

>> Yes. I do have that [inaudible]. Part of my presentation to them so, in doing a comparison is part of my presentation. So yeah.

>> How much of your time there was orchestrated as like a tour, and how much you had freedom to do some things as an individual? Is that a possibility over there?

>> All right. So the first time around, let's see, alternative spring break, things are very rigid. Our safety was number one. Number one for our provosts too. So we moved mostly as a group. There wasn't a lot of flexibility. We were told we would be staying in the compound. So Eco Hotel was our compound, securely gated, security everywhere. And that's pretty much what most of us did, unless we left with the professor or some of us had extended families and friends. We had to give those names ahead of time to the professors to have them approved. How we knew them, how long we knew them. Making sure it wasn't just like people we've met on the Internet. You know, I'm finally going to meet you. No, you can't get married, you know, it was [laughs] all kinds of things to reassure that we had our safety. There wasn't a whole lot for most of us, but were three of us, because we had family, extended family, friends. We had to leave, so I got to see a little bit more of my Nigerians, than my peers did. And I got to Ajaa and Nicky. I don't know if you've seen the pictures of their beautiful home.

That is in Lakee, and Ajaa was an experience in itself. [laughs] So it was very scary for me. I kept quiet so people didn't know that I was an American. My second time around, because I was more independent had a lot of flexibility. But because of the people that I knew, who pretty much looked after me, pretty much treated me the same way my professor did. So I was pretty much found in my room most of the time, because I was alone. My personal hostess, Elizabeth, as long as she was there. I think she spent like three or four days with me at my hotel. We went everywhere. She was able to talk to you. People, the Uber drivers, [laughs] that was pretty much the safest thing is getting an Uber ride, which works very different there than here. But I had lots of flexibility the second time, but I paid attention to what everyone said. And then I had already taken friendship with a couple of the security, so I'd already known that they knew that I was coming, so there were certain places where they would say, okay, we'll be able to meet you up or I'm off work at this time. And so that have a lot to do with my meetings as well. There were some meetings where I couldn't make it, because I didn't have security. I think if you go first semester, and you're on the actual premises of the university, it's a little bit more flexibility. All right. So I have some artifacts around. I [inaudible] these. I have some Olary beads. [Inaudible] my first pair. [laughs] I have some [inaudible] in our itinerary, and the Woman and Youth Art Foundation. So we can pass this around so that you can see them. And the jewelry, those beads are very precious to them. They're Nigeria beads. They're very precious to them. They're much like having diamond rings, diamonds jury. It comes from the bottom of the ocean, and they --

>> Clay.

>> They actually from a coral.

>> Oh, a coral.

>> So I think they mix it with a clay though, and some of them are made with a wax. Some of them I know that was my first one. I think the second one that I have they tell me is more, I forgot [inaudible] it costs more. It's [inaudible] expensive that I know. [laughs] But I didn't bring that one. [laughs] So yeah, it's pretty much like if they were lying around [inaudible] something beautiful, they would probably look to that before they would look for a diamond ring. It's amazing what our materialistic [laughs] values are.

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>> [Inaudible] full price and you graduate from a program. Would you ever see yourself going back to Nigeria on a more extended basis to maybe really help them [inaudible] their vocational rehabilitation programs, and [inaudible] programs [inaudible]

>> I really haven't looked that far, to be honest. I was offered a position in the hospital, you know, they were going to create a position at Unilag for teaching.

>> Yeah.

>> I really haven't entertained that much, just because I do miss home. I'm sitting here thinking how am I'm going to do nine months. I thought it was eight months, and then Nancy from Fulbright said, no, it's nine. You know one extra month. [laughs] I'm like, so I don't know. I probably would be calm. I have extended family there, which is going to give me some comfort. I do get to bring my children with me during the Fulbright, so I'll get to bring my fiancé, well, he'll be my husband by then, so I get to bring him with me. So that's going to give me some comfort, but I haven't really looked at [inaudible]. I think there's a certain kind of -- I need to do things home.

>> Yeah.

>> That's it? [laughs] Thank you.

>> Thank you very much.

[ Applause ]

>> All right. So hello. I'm Kenetta Smith and this is my third year in the RCP program. I'm here to talk to you about the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals. I think it's known as IRAOP, [laughs] I like to say IRAOP, but it's IRAOP, and I just wanted to share a little bit about it, because what we're trying to do is put together a club here at San Diego State University [inaudible] so that we have something that kind of supports us as students that are interested in the private sector. So a description of what it is, is to have an organization under IRAOP, how's the [inaudible] SDSU into work through power and assist the success of the goal of assisting and advocating by providing support with professional growth and education to SDSU students that have an interest in private rehabilitation. So basically what I just said if you have an interest in the private sector then this is the club for you, giving you support on achieving your goals. So the mission is to find mentors and educators of rehabilitation professions to foster the growth of independent rehabilitation interests to develop an effective private sector. And have worked really closely with Alex, who is our contact person who definitely supports this and fosters our missions.

And the vision that I have, which definitely can be squeaked this is all me and about me. I need my group, so you guys to come forward. The vision that I see is to have trained individuals to educate and mentor students striving to provide services in the private sector to [inaudible] in the field ethics, standards, competence standards, networking, and to promote our membership for future support. So let's discuss. So I don't have any data ready to go. I don't have anything that says, oh, come and meet us on this day. We're going to meet once a month or twice a month. I'm proposing twice a month just because if you can't make it to one date, you'll be able to make it to another. But I can be contacted specifically about the IRAOP at And that's That's just discuss your ideas if you're interested in joining the group and being a part of the club. Some officers would be nice. It is an unofficial club at this point. We're not recognized by San Diego State, but that will be the goal. Just keep your interest. So let's go. [laughs]

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