What was the environment in which you were raised?
I feel that it is impossible for me to trace it all down to a single place. Who I am as a person is like a pot of jollof rice, all of the ingredients are equally important in creating a wholesome meal. That is why I would like to highlight some of these ingredients and how they each added to shape the person that I am.
Everything begins at home, as they say, this is very true in my case because my upbringing was one of the key components that made me the man that I am today. I come from a Nigerian household and one of the foundations that hold up a Nigerian family, and our culture as a whole is respect. My mom who frequently speaks in Yoruba proverbs etched the saying, "iwa rere leso eniyan"(try pronouncing that), into my brain. This closely translates to "good character is a person's jewel," so she has always made an active effort in making sure that my jewel shines. That is why she always made it a priority for me to greet my elders appropriately, cautioned me when I pointed at people and always made sure I did not collect things with my left hand(which is considered rude in Nigerian culture). I can definitely attribute my respectful nature to my mom.
My education has been special because I have seen both sides of the coin. My elementary school was full of kids who were just like me. It was a Nigerian institution, and any foreigners were few and far between. This school expected order from students. Every Monday at assemblies, the teachers check to see if we were in uniform, if our shirts were tucked in, if our hair was cut properly, and our nails were trimmed neatly. During the day, we would be made to line up in a single file or we would not be allowed to go to recess or lunch. At lunch, nobody ate until there was pin-drop silence in the dining hall. If anyone failed to follow these rules, the students would pack up all of the dishes and wash them with the cleaning staff while the other kids were out playing. It felt very militaristic how we would have to follow all of these precise rules. However, in hindsight, I can see that the school was simply trying to mold us into students who took after the school's core values of respect, excellence, and service. Values that were definitely imparted in me because I received the Best Student Award 3 different years and I won the mathematics trophy. So looking back, my elementary school gave me the blueprint to become a model citizen of Nigeria
My middle school was an international school, which was a complete change from my elementary school. For the first time, nobody was like me at all. There were so many students from all over the world that the school looked like a UN summit to me. This was the first time I had been in a truly diverse environment. I obviously went through some culture shock at first, but I found it easy to make friends from many different cultures. This is because I had a large capacity to respect other people, due to my parents' guidance and the values of my previous school. Soon, I adapted to this new environment and over the next four years, I made it a goal to establish a global identity. The fact is that the world is becoming such a small place, and that is what puts myself and my generation in such a great situation, We have the opportunity to expand and touch every corner of the world in ways generations past never had, we can do all of this no matter where you are, or where you are from.
Altogether, my elementary and middle school, even though they were on opposite sides of the spectrum, both had a tremendous impact on my life and how I perceive life. My elementary school made me a model citizen of Nigeria and my middle school made me a model citizen of the World. My parents teaching me respect from such a young age made it possible for me to adapt to new places and environments. These along with many other experiences are the ingredients that make my pot of jollof rice unique.
*I tried to make mine kinda unique be as critical as possible