Aisha moved to the United States at the age of 11 from Nigeria. She shares the challenges she faced, including fitting in and being accepted by her peers. Aisha discusses the issues of leadership in her birth country. She plans to pursue teaching English in Korea as her next endeavor. This story was recorded in partnership with MALA and StoryCorps. Production credit given to Sydney Jarol.
I was born Lagos, Nigeria. And, I was raised Muslim. My whole family is Muslim. Even though with my mom and dad, I am the only child. I still had the siblings on my mom‘s or dad’s side, so I could still like ask them for help. Even though they were way older than me, I could still relate with them. And they, you know, helped me out. Because my mom moved here to the US in 1997. I stayed with my sister for the main time. And, I moved to the US when I 11 years old to stay with my mom and her family. I think that growing up here, there’s a lot of challenges. You know, you are looked at differently. And people kinda just shy away from you. I think it is because of fear, because of what the media portrays and at a point, I wanted to wear my hijab. But, then I didn’t want to in high school. Because, I was like kinda scared about what other kids my age would think. And, I feel like fitting in was a problem. Because the way the kids would, you know, treat you if you were Muslim or you were African. I’m Muslim. I’m African. So it’s like oh my God that’s, like to me double trouble. So I kinda didn’t want to show that.
At a point, I wanted to be American so bad. It took me a little bit to accept me being Nigerian and Muslim. I went to back Nigeria in 2012. And, things were very different. We have been able to, as one nation, we had been able to get along with different ethnicity. But, now with Boko-harm, it has been a challenge. Because, I feel like they have bring a lot of chaos to Nigeria. And, it’s not what Nigeria stand for, Boko Haram do not represent Muslims or Nigerians. I feel like the corruption is what’s really killing Nigeria and Nigerians. So if we cannot get new leaders that are willing to do what is right, fix the country, fix the roads, bring light, bring about water and food to the people. I feel you wouldn’t see so many Nigerians striving to go aboard. To me, Nigerians are very talented people. So, if they are given the opportunity by you providing the basic things that they need. They wouldn’t have to go aboard and struggle so much.
My major was sociology. So I had a lot to with society and different social problems that we are facing right now. I actually plan to go Nigeria later on and help people who are less privileged. Right now the unemployment rate is very terrible in Nigeria. So I would really like to work with people who are unemployed. I feel like that is one of the things I would want to do. I am hopefully going to teach English in Korea. I plan to do that for a year. So I feel like this is going to give me enough time for me to think about what I want to do. But, also, it would be a great experience and, it help me grow. You know, you have black Africans, African-Americans, and other ethnicity in Korea right now. And, they state their challenges like, when you are black, and Korea is a homogeneous country, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to get a lot of stares. And, it is going to be challenge, but I am up for it.