Feb. 25, 2010
MADISON, Wis. -- While many students braved the Midwestern cold to be with family over the holiday break, sophomore Dorcas Akinniyi of the women's track team took a trip to Nigeria.
Dorcas spent seven days in the centrally located country in Africa to visit family.
It took about 13 hours of air travel, each way, from her hometown in suburban Dallas, Texas, to Obu Masho, Nigeria -- not counting her stops in Atlanta, Ga., and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Even though Dorcas preferred the hot Nigerian sun to the Wisconsin snow, she shared that trip reminded her about how great her life is here, in the United States.
When asked about her initial reactions of the trip, Dorcas replied that the country is, "Different because their government isn't as strict." She said that, while some places like Lagos and Calaba are similar to what we are accustomed to seeing in the U.S., places like Obu Masho are much different. Dorcas said that, "A lot of the roads [there] aren't paved, and the ones that are paved have potholes everywhere."
She continued saying, "People live in shacks," and explained that many everyday tasks that would take minutes in the U.Ss, can be very time consuming in Nigeria." For instance, Dorcas says, "Taking a shower is very difficult. First you have to get the water from the well, bring it back, then put drops of Detol in the water so your skin doesn't get burned." In addition to disinfecting the water with Detol, Akinniyi explained that most times the water is also heated up for further sterilization.
Dorcas admits there were many eye opening facets of her trip, the most prominent being her first memorable meeting with her elderly grandmother - the main reason for her trip. "No one knows how old she is," Dorcas replied when I asked her about her grandmother's age. She continued, "They really didn't keep records back then, but she's somewhere in her nineties."
In addition to a generational divide, Dorcas faced a language barrier when trying to interact with her grandmother. "She speaks Yoruba...[so] I couldn't relate to her completely." Fortunately, Dorcas' dad was able to translate in order for her to communicate with her grandmother, enabling them to discuss religion and share a few laughs.
Overall, Dorcas is very thankful that she was able to have the opportunity to travel to Nigeria and feels that the trip was a "humbling experience." She says she will parlay the life lessons learned from the trip into her work ethic as she continues to develop as a track athlete, saying her "biggest lesson is to appreciate what I have."
UW Softball Student-Athlete